Friday, July 30, 2010

The Looming Towers #8: Sixth theory of Theory Week: on the Aiel

By Linda

In the sixth and final theory for Theory Week I suggest that at least some Aiel need to swear a Covenant to follow the Way of the Leaf before the Last Battle.

I hope you enjoyed the theories this week. Nest week I'll continue adding new articles to the blog.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

The LoomingTowers #7: Fifth theory of Theory Week - on Rand

By Linda

Last night's theory was long-ish, so tonight's is shorter. The fifth theory for Theory Week speculates on what the Rand's Third Question was to the Aelfinn.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Monday, July 26, 2010

The Looming Towers #4: Second theory of Theory Week - about Verin

By Linda

The second theory for Theory Week is about who Verin might have left the Horn of Valere with in the White Tower.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

The Looming Towers #3: Theory Week + new theory

By Linda

I’ve decided this week is Theory Week on the blog and I plan to post a theory a day from now until Friday. First up is one on what else Perrin may do besides fight battles.

Friday, July 23, 2010

The Looming Towers #2: 13 Predictions for Towers of Midnight

Linda’s top 13 – with explanations.

1. Mat, Thom and Noal will have a thoroughly nasty time in the ‘Finns’ world and Moiraine will turn out to be the woman in shadow in Egwene's dream beckoning Mat to great, monstrous danger.

Perrin’s vision of Mat bound and naked will be fulfilled in the Finns’ world. The Finns will consider Mat cheated the agreement (which Moiraine hinted would be necessary to win against the Aelfinn and Eelfinn) and bind him and threaten to skin him, just as Mat threatened to skin a Finn for cheating in the Rhuidean ter’angreal. Mat is bound naked, just as in Perrin’s vision, everything having been removed except the very items the Eelfinn gave him as part of their bargain in The Shadow Rising. (If the Aelfinn or Eelfinn break the agreement they can hardly object to Mat and co. doing the same).

Shortly after being bound Mat will lose his eye – blood is the fourth item (along with their courage, Thom’s singing voice, and Aludra’s matches) which will be used to cheat against the ‘Finns. Because the Finn's world has radically different natural laws (Letter to Paul Ward from RJ - March 2000), and is a separate world, Noal will remember a certain amount of knowledge that has been unavailable due to a Forsaken tampering with him (probably Graendal). Mat is mistaken in thinking that the ‘Finns are linked to him – the link was broken when Mat was unbalefired in Caemlyn. Thus the ‘Finns won’t know about Aludra’s matches.

Before he goes to the Tower of Ghenjei, Mat dices with Elayne for funds to build the dragons. He makes a rousing speech to his troops tht he will return and departs for the Tower of Ghenjei. The Murandian who designed his crossbow crank also makes the new device Mat has in mind.

2. Berelain is shaved bald by Faile as punishment for trying to poach Perrin and letting everyone think she is Perrin’s lover, and she is "recognised" as one of the Seanchan royal family as a consequence. She is smitten when she meets Galad, but he isn’t much by her.

3. Tuon is revealed to the Seanchan as able to learn to channel like all sul’dam and the worst possible interpretation is put on this thanks to the Shadow. Many Seanchan declare preference for Berelain again thanks to the Shadow. (Theory on this newly published.)

4. The Seanchan make a second attack on the Aes Sedai using Travelling this time and AS damane are forced to call lightning against the White Tower just as Egwene dreamt (see First Strike by Aes Sedai Damane theory). Tuon flaunts Elaida the damane Amyrlin while declaring Egwene merely an escaped damane and not Amyrlin.

Egwene herself is rescued from the headsman by a Seanchan woman. One of the Bloodknives’ victims is Beldeine.

5. Caemlyn will be the site of one of the main battles of TG since it is a parallel of Camlann where King Arthur fought Mordred (or Modred) and they killed each other. Rand will apparently die at Caemlyn and will be taken to Tar Valon by Skimming (since they don't know the area well) fulfilling Nicola's "three in the boat and he who is dead yet lives" Foretelling. Logain takes command. Rand survives to father Aviendha's children.

Kennit arrives at Caemlyn looking for Eldrith.

6. Lan and those forces still in the Borderlands fight great battles at Maradon (a parallel of Marathon, where the Greeks repulsed the Persians in battle in 490 BC) and Shol Arbela (Shol being similar to Sheol (Hades), and Arbela referring to the Battle of Arbela between the forces of Alexander the Great and Darius III of Persia in October 331BC. Darius had collected an enormous army, including Iranian heavy cavalry and many chariots with knives protruding from the wheels. The Persians cleared a level plain near Arbela, east of the Tigris River. The Persian cavalry outflanked Alexander's left and captured his camp. But, with a charge which he led himself, Alexander routed Darius, and the Persian Army retreated to the east. It is considered one of the most decisive battles in history.)

Sidona (Sidon) and Tyr (Tyre) will be destroyed in horrific sieges as they were in the real world.

Note that Lan landed at World’s End when the world’s end is in the offing.

7. Halima’s little group encounters the Seanchan and she is tested for the collar with fatal effects as discussed in this theory.

8. Dark People:

Annoura is Black Ajah. Vayelle Kamsa is also Black and was involved in the illegal gentling of men.

Elder Haman is forced by events to violence.

9. The strength and smith motifs around Perrin become more important as he undergoes trials. Perrin is wounded in the leg.

10. Aviendha realises the Aiel need to readopt the Way of the Leaf before the Last Battle from what she sees in the glass columns ter'angreal. She has a hard time getting to Rhuidean and back due to Darkfriend Aiel including Wise Ones. (Theory on this next week.)

11. There is huge division among the Ogier. Ogier subverted by the Shadow, Covril foremost among them, try to force a vote to open the book of Translation. They may even try to take the book after Loial reveals the presence of Seanchan Ogier on the mainland in a desperate attempt to stall the decision.

12. Egwene will fulfill Verin's deathbed suggestion and thank Laras. Laras will follow the letter she received from Verin and give Egwene information, including that which leads to where the Horn is hidden.

13. (appropriate number) The Black Tower has quite a few Black Ajah visiting. There is at least one Black Red now visiting the Black Tower: Javindhra and perhaps Desala. Of those in the rebel expedition to the Black Tower Malind, Escaralde and Salita are Black. Some Black Ajah on the run stop by the Black Tower. Ample Black sisters for linking with 13 Myrddraal to turn channellers to the Shadow.

There are more hints that Taim is Moridin and the climax of the book is when the Black Tower is rent in fire and blood. Cadsuane is among the group that attack it. Her weave-breaking ter’angreal breaks Taim's disguise.

Feel free to post your own predictions for Towers of Midnight on the 13th Depository predictions forum or in the comments below.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The Looming Towers #1: Possible Darkfriends

By Linda

I thought it might be interesting to name a few likely, but currently unexposed, Darkfriends, some of which might be revealed in Towers of Midnight.

With Rand:

The Tairen High Lord who wore “elaborately silver-worked boots” at Ishamael’s Darkfriend social in The Great Hunt is probably Weiramon Saniago, since he is the only one to wear such boots and has been acting suspiciously. (It is remarked more than once that Weiramon’s sigil is very similar to Lanfear’s – not a suggestion that he is her, but a subtle hint that he is also allied to the Shadow.)

Weiramon may have been undermining the effectiveness of Rand's attacks from the inside. His ‘mistakes’ include:

  • 1. He grossly flatters Rand, trying to puff up his ego, so that Rand becomes excessively arrogant and dictatorial, judges poorly and repels people. This is happening.

  • 2. He tries to make Rand distrust other nations’ forces; he sows disunity and suspicion (The Path of Daggers, Answering the Summons).

  • 3. Weiramon encourages Rand spread his forces among too many targets.

  • 4. He underestimates the size and effectiveness of enemy attacks. For example, he claimed the forces attacking Tear in The Fires of Heaven were only bandits and pirates (The Fires of Heaven, The Craft of Kin Tovere) and he told Rand that the remnants of Sammael’s Illianer army was only as small force, yet it was not (The Path of Daggers, Floating Like Snow). He and Gedwyn together persuaded Rand to ignore Bashere’s advice and push on to Ebou Dar fighting the Seanchan.

  • 5. Weiramon attacks too early with too little forces, often managing to leave behind, divide or lose some of his forces, e.g. against the Shaido in Cairhien (The Fires of Heaven, The Craft of Kin Tovere), and against Sammael in Illian (A Crown of Swords, A Crown of Swords). In Cairhien, if he had his way, he would have lead the core of the Tairen forces Rand had in Tear to utter destruction before even the final battle.

  • 6. In battle he leaves his assigned position, opening holes in the defence for the enemy to penetrate, as happened against the Seanchan in Altara. Rand was nearly killed as a result (The Path of Daggers, Fog of War, Storm of Battle).

  • 7. He doesn’t push hard enough when in battle. In Altara Weiramon did not even get slightly dirty and the Taraboners in the Seanchan said the Tairens fought less fiercely than expected, unlike Rand’s other troops (The Path of Daggers, A Time for Iron).

Such an extensive list adds up to a deliberate pattern of sabotage, aiming at undermining the effectiveness of Rand’s leadership and armies. It is a wonder he has survived any military engagements at all (we have seen other military incompetents promptly killed in battle, for example Melanril), let alone have any credibility among Tairens. He was particularly stupid about the Shaido, yet is old enough to have fought in the Aiel War. In fact, in New Spring, The Hook, a young Tairen noble with silver worked boots gave Lan orders to position his forces as an anvil against which Tairen forces were supposed to crush Aiel. This did not happen and if the Aiel – in much larger numbers than the Tairen said - had not withdrawn after Laman was killed, Lan and his forces would have been wiped out.

Weiramon’s conversation with Darkfriend Asha’man Gedwyn in The Path of Daggers showed that he is sometimes not so stupid at all:

"I don't care who you are, I won't take more risk without a command direct from the lips of -"

- The Path of Daggers, A Time for Iron

When he saw that he was overheard, he looked murderous and then acted stupidly again. Gedwyn apparently tried to pull rank on Weiramon but was ignored. Weiramon was unimpressed by a very high up (dark) Asha’man, which implies that Weiramon was under orders from somebody higher up than Gedwyn, somebody even more impressive - one of the Forsaken, for instance.

I consider Lews Therin’s comments in The Gathering Storm to be a red herring:

I like him, Lews Therin thought.
Rand started. You don't like anyone!
He's honest, Lews Therin replied, then laughed. More than I am, for certain! A man doesn't choose to be an idiot, but he does choose to be loyal. We could do much worse than have this man as a follower.

- The Gathering Storm, Before the Stone of Tear

Yep. We could have Taim, for instance! *rolls eyes* Actually a man can choose to be an idiot – or at least appear one. Just as he can choose to appear loyal.

We have seen very few Darkfriends among the Aiel. Way too few for the numbers of Aiel. I think Sorilea might be a Darkfriend. It's suggestive that the Shadow burgle Cadsuane the day she shows Sorilea and Bair where the male a'dam was hidden and on the only night that she is out of her room visiting...the Wise Ones. Cadsuane unravelled the weave while Sorilea was in the room. I think it was Sorilea that showed Elza the ‘rarely known weaves’ (as Sanderson put it) required to arm/disarm the box and get the Domination Band since Sorilea was too weak to do it herself. The weaves were inverted, so Sorila couldn’t see them to unweave them as Wise Ones can do to regular weaves. The situation mirrors Sorilea’s demonstration of Travelling to Cadsuane to put her in her debt in the first place, even though Sorilea’s weaves were too weak to open a gateway.

Quite possibly other Wise Ones are also Darkfriends, and, judging by the amount of discord among the clan chiefs, at least one clan chief probably is a Darkfriend.

Aes Sedai:

Evanellein is pretty much a definite since she fled the Tower when the Black Ajah did.

I think Javindhra is Black too. She is supposedly Elaida’s lapdog, yet smirks when she says that news of Dumai’s Wells is spreading to discredit Elaida no matter how hard the Red Ajah leadership works (Knife of Dreams Prologue). It sounds as if she is aware of Alviarin’s order to do this. She wears ‘almost black’ clothing, often a sign of a Black sister. And now she’s at the Black Tower. Desala, a particularly nasty tempered Red (and that says something) is also a possible Darkfriend. She’s now at the Black Tower too.

Men can’t link without women and if the Shadow want to forcibly turn channellers to the Shadow with 13 Dreadlords and 13 Myrddraal, Black sisters would be useful. Not since Liandrin’s group was broken up have there been 13 Black Ajah free and available to link together with 13 Myrddraal to forcibly turn channellers to the Shadow. Of course, the circles of 13 don’t need to be all women, but there does need to be at least 7 women in a circle of 13 - one more woman than the number of men. Even a free and available group of 7 Black sisters hasn’t occurred that often before now.

The rebel Sitter Malind, who worked with Moria in suggesting to the Hall that the rebels make an agreement with the Black Tower is probably a Darkfriend. She also drafted an appeal to nearby nobles that might have turned the whole countryside against the rebels ( The Path of Daggers, Unexpected Absences). If she is Black, Verin failed to identify her, and she might be one of the rebels now at the Black Tower.

Salita, a Sitter who definitely went on the rebels’ expedition to the Black Tower, is another possibility since she proposed to levy a tax on every town and village the rebels passed through, which would have also have had the countryside against them.

Escaralde is another possible Black rebel Sitter since she too promoted the deal with the Black Tower and might now be on the rebels’ delegation there. If she is Black, Verin failed to identify her.

Of the one third of Aes Sedai that stood aside from the Tower schism and listened to Cadsuane, 20 to 25% of them will be Black.

Surely one of the Aes Sedai with Perrin is Black.

Memara, the Red sent to bully Tenobia, is a likely Darkfriend since Alviarin was the one to send her.

At least two Aes Sedai with the Borderlander rulers are probably Darkfriends – at least one each from the group that accompanied Tenobia (led by Illeisien), and the one with Paitar (led by Coladara). Since individually the groups could not have hoped to hold Rand, and combined they total exactly 13 I think the two groups were always working together.


Kyril Shianri, Paitar’s advisor, has the usual characteristics of Darkfriends: dissatisfaction, vanity and arrogance. To make sure all the rulers were committed to what amounts to weakening the Borderlands, he was very quick to pounce on any doubt and scorn it. He actually butted in on exchange between a King and Queen:

She [Ethenielle] made her own greetings just as short, ending with a direct "I hope you've come this far without detection."
Easar snorted and leaned on his cantle, eyeing her grimly. A hard man, but eleven years widowed and still mourning. He had written poetry for his wife. There was always more than the surface. "If we've been seen, Ethenielle," he grumbled, "then we might as well turn back now."
"You speak of turning back already?" Between his tone and a flip of his tasseled reins, Shianri managed to combine disdain with barely enough civility to forestall a challenge.

- The Path of Daggers, Deceptive Appearances

So eager is Shianri that he seems to be over-reacting. Neither Easar nor Ethenielle were thinking of turning back.

Lomas, the Kandori scout described as sly by Ethenielle, is another possible Darkfriend.


Covril, Loial’s mother who has been trying to get the Ogier to open the Book of Translation ASAP and leave the world, and thus miss out on the Last Battle. I explained why in this recent post.


We know there are some Darkfriends among the Seekers and/or the Hands controlling the Seekers from Crossroads of Twilight, The Tale of a Doll.

Sea Folk:

Carridin believed the slender, heavily wrapped Sea folk person at Ishamael’s social was male, but he might have been wrong. I think that this person could be female.

Speaking of Sea Folk women that might be Darkfriends, we have the two sister Windfinders to Clan Wavemistresses. But which one is the Darkfriend? Tebreille or Caire? That is the question. While having the seemingly benign sister a Darkfriend would be more surprising and original, it’s not likely since Caire was crucial in restoring the seasons. While we’ve seen Darkfriends do ‘good’ before, this might be going too far, even allowing for the desire for a great personal achievement. Most Darkfriends have pretty obvious character defects, so I guess Tebreille is the likely Darkfriend.

Black Tower:

Taim’s personally trained Asha’man are obviously Darkfriends.


Einor Saren who spread chaos on Almoth Plain for Carridin and was ruthless enough to order a whole village killed

and stupid enough to throw the bodies into the river to float downstream and trumpet their deed from Alcruna to Tanchico.

- The Great Hunt, The Shadow in Shienar

Handy for promoting further division and chaos. He confirmed the existence of the strangers, the Seanchan and baited Bornhald with the possibility of his legion fighting them:

”Or are you sliding from the Light?" Saren's smile was a grimace. "If battle is what you seek, -you may have your chance. The strangers have a great force on Toman Head, more than Tarabon and Arad Doman together may be able to hold, even if they can stop their own bickering long enough to work together. If the strangers break through, you will have all
the fighting you can handle. The Taraboners claim the strangers are monsters, creatures of the Dark One. Some say they have Aes Sedai to fight for them. If they are Darkfriends, these strangers, they will have to be dealt with, too. In their turn."
For a moment, Bornhald stopped breathing. "Then the rumors are true. Artur Hawking's armies have returned."
"Strangers," Saren said flatly. He sounded as if he regretted having mentioned them. "Strangers, and probably Darkfriends, from wherever they came. That is all we know, and all you need to know. They do not concern you now.”

- The Great Hunt, The Shadow in Shienar

Bornhald and his legion died doing just that. Saren used reverse psychology; all the Questioners are aware of how the other Children see them. In the light of this, Saren’s suggestions to Asunawa sound like he is promoting division between Niall and the Questioners (and reminding Asunawa that Morgase should be killed).

And now I come to a tricky one.


I am in two minds about Berelain. There may be good reason why we’ve never had a POV from her and also that Lanfear gave her the letter that claimed Rand. She’s done some good (when she was under the eyes of the Aiel) but has also been a great distraction and time-waster for Perrin and Faile. So I think she very well could be one of the cleverer Darkfriends. Some of her parallels indicate she is (Delilah, for instance, or Nephthys). Her motive? The survival of Mayene. It’s possible she’s one of those unknowingly working for Moridin but if so, who is giving her the orders and why is she obeying them?

Monday, July 19, 2010

New Article Released: Character Names Parallels - R

By Linda

Today I posted an article on possible sources for character names starting with R in the Reference Library. Rand is the main entry of course, but there is also interesting information on the names of Rand's ancestor Rhea, Tuon's mother Radhanan, Rolan and Romanda.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Knife of Dreams Read-through #15: Lording It Over Chaos

By Linda

One of the most interesting things about Knife of Dreams is that it begins and ends with the cryptic phrase “Let the Lord of Chaos rule”. Semirhage recites this after she informs Suroth of how she destroyed the Seanchan Imperial family and the Empire:

This time, Semirhage’s laughter was so shocking that it shut off Suroth’s tears. That head of fire was thrown back, emitting great peals of mirth. At last she regained control, wiping away tears of flame with fiery fingers. “I see I didn’t make myself clear. Radhanan is dead, and her daughters, and her sons, and half the Imperial Court, as well. There is no Imperial family except for Tuon. There is no Empire. Seandar is in the hands of rioters and looters, and so are a dozen other cities. At least fifty nobles are contending for the throne, with armies in the field. There is war from the Aldael Mountains to Salaking. Which is why you will be perfectly safe in disposing of Tuon and proclaiming yourself Empress. I’ve even arranged for a ship, which should arrive soon, to bring word of the disaster.” She laughed again, and said something strange. “Let the lord of chaos rule.”

- Knife of Dreams Prologue

and Taim says it after he agrees that the Red Ajah can Bond those Asha’man (all three ranks) who are willing:

Pevara blinked in spite of herself. "'Very well'?" She must have misunderstood him. He could not have been convinced so easily.
Taim's eyes seemed to bore into her head. He spread his hands, and it was a mocking gesture. "What would you have me say? Fair is fair? Equal shares? Accept 'very well' and ask who will let you bond them. Besides, you must remember the old saying. Let the lord of chaos rule." The chamber erupted with men's laughter.
Pevara had never heard any saying like that. The laughter made the hair on the back of her neck try to stand.

- Knife of Dreams Epilogue

Rand is associated with chaos since

Order burns to clear his path

- Lord of Chaos, Epigram

as the Prophecies say, but so is the Dark One, as Verin explains:

The Dark One is the embodiment of paradox and chaos, the destroyer of reason and logic, the breaker of balance, the unmaker of order.”

- The Dragon Reborn, A World of Dreams

It’s a risky tactic as Mesaana observed back when it was first proposed in Lord of Chaos: letting Rand rule while ‘aiding’ that rule as chaotically as possible. (With 'friends' like that, who needs enemies? No wonder Rand is paranoid.)

Examples are:
  • Sammael ‘aided’ Rand by dispersing his enemies the Shaido, thus widening their pillaging front;

  • another Forsaken (Lanfear?) ‘aided’ Rand by deluding Masema into encouraging his Dragonsworn to pillage; and, as shown above,

  • Semirhage ‘aided’ Rand by destroying invader Tuon’s support behind her.

As Lord of Chaos, Rand is effectively being linked with the Dark One and we saw the result of this in Knife of Dreams and The Gathering Storm: Rand became dark, the Land became Blighted and the Dark One’s touch on the Land increased.

The Shadow can hide their real intentions within the chaos as Sammael said:

"The rest [of the Shaido] are scattered from Illian to Ghealdan. As to how or why? Maybe al'Thor did it, for his own reasons, but I certainly wouldn't have wasted most of them if it was my work, now would I?" He laughed again; caught up in his own brilliance.

- A Crown of Swords, Spears

On the other hand, so can the Pattern protect, hide, or aid Rand in the same way without the Shadow noticing until too late. As Graendal observed, the Pattern is now so unstable it’s now quite hard to find even such very strong ta’veren:

Finding ta'veren was never as simple as you made out, and now it's harder than ever. The whole Pattern is in flux, full of shifts and spikes."

- Knife of Dreams, At the Gardens

At the end of Knife of Dreams Tuon returns to her base, having avoided attempts to kill her, and establishes order, one of her strongest motifs. Rand may be Lord of Chaos, but Tuon is Lady of Order (see Tuon essay).

And finally six brave Reds arrive at the Dark Tower and find a child soldier, and a harsh, cruel regime. Taim now has 100 full Asha’man, all trained personally by him and owing him their positions and loyalty (as Logain warned Rand). The Reds have ostensibly been given the permission they sought but will they survive this dangerous expedition? How many will leave the Black Tower alive? Will some of the fleeing Black sisters be sent there to enable Taim’s group to make rings?

To add to their peril/woes there are possibly Black sisters present with them already – as part of their number. Javindhra, who is supposedly Elaida’s lapdog, smirks when she says that news of Dumai’s Wells is spreading to discredit Elaida no matter how hard the Red Ajah leadership works (Knife of Dreams Prologue). It sounds as if she is aware of Alviarin’s order to do this. She wears ‘almost black’ clothing, often a sign of a Black sister. Desala, who has a notoriously nasty temper among an Ajah full of harsh characters, is another contender.

And has the Shadow’s plan worked? The last we heard, the Dark One thought so.

This post ends my Knife of Dreams read-through, which has been the longest to date that I have attempted solo. Next week I shall post some new library articles. There are only a few weeks until the Towers of Midnight prologue is released (about early September, according to Sanderson).

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Knife of Dreams Read-through #14: Temper Temper

By Linda

The theme of temper|tempering|temperance is prominent around Faile and Perrin.

Due to cultural differences, the couple has had an issue of how to express anger. Perrin says he “did not know anger” until Faile was captured (which is why he could not express it to her as she would wish). One of the ‘mistakes’ Perrin made in Faile’s mind was showing his temper to Berelain – the wrong woman. Perrin should have taken his cue from the wolves: the more attention the pack leader gives another wolf, the higher the status of that animal. He is supposed to ignore Berelain as much as possible.

Faile wants to express her temper readily and fully but makes Perrin guess why she is angry. This links in with another theme surrounding the couple: that of courtly love. It’s capricious and demanding, but that’s part of the courtly love game.

You might say Faile has been good for Perrin’s self-expression; she helped him show grief when he learned of the murder of his family, and not only encourages him to show his anger, but consciously guides it:

[She] planned how she would meet his anger and turn it. There was an art to guiding a husband's anger in the direction you wanted, and she had learned from an expert, her mother.

- Winter’s Heart, Customs

Perrin is too moderate or temperate and Faile pulls him back from this extreme by paradoxically moderating his moderation – or is it tempering his temperance?

Tempering is usually described as the strengthening of metal, and by extension other things. It’s an appropriate motif for a smith. Lovers showing temper to each other in Faile’s book affirms or even increases the strength and respect of each other.

Perrin and Faile are strong people and make each other grow stronger. Just as importantly, they strengthen other people:

She had been taught to give those under her strength even when she had none herself, to soothe their fears, not infect them with her own.

- Lord of Chaos, Prologue

Faile was taught that this is one of the true roles of a noble/leader (the others being to protect them and to foster their well-being by keeping order, providing infrastructure and promoting industry and trade) and she has not only followed this herself but instilled it in Perrin too.

Her captivity among the Shaido amply proved to her and us the worth of these roles, by showing positive and negative leadership in action. Faile had to moderate the behaviour of those subject to her lest they be killed or kill their chances of escape, which brings us to the motif of temperance.

Temperance is defined as moderation and self-restraint in behaviour or expression. More than once under the Shaido Faile had to control her anger and other emotions and persuade others to do the same. For example:

Alliandre's cowl hid her face, but her back grew stiffer with every word. She was intelligent, and knew how to do what she must, but she had a queen's temper when she did not control it.
Faile spoke before she could erupt. "Until we manage to get away, we are all servants," she said firmly. Light, the last thing she needed was the pair of them squabbling. "But you will apologize, Maighdin. Now!" Head averted, her serving woman mumbled something that might have been an apology. She let it pass for one, in any case. "As for you, Alliandre, I expect you to be a good servant." Alliandre made a noise, a half-protest that Faile ignored. "If we are to have any chance of escape, we must do as we are told, work hard, and attract as little attention as possible."

- Winter’s Heart, Offers

Both Faile and Perrin have had to mediate between disparate groups of people and weld them into a useful and focused whole. In The Gathering Storm Tam remarked to Rand how well Perrin did this:

That boy's put on a balancing act to impress any menagerie performer.

- The Gathering Storm, The One He Lost

Faile not being there to guide Perrin’s anger, he had to learn to control it himself. He knows he goes out of control in the extreme danger of battle. One of his greatest fears is that he will be stuck in berserk mode but Elyas set his mind at rest about that. The climax of the rescue, when Perrin finally set eyes on Faile, was one time she couldn’t moderate his anger, which is why the women killed their Aiel saviours lest they kill Perrin.

The more narrow meaning of temperance as the restraint in the use of or abstinence from alcoholic liquors also features. The issue of drunkenness among the Shaido affected Faile and her group. They were each subject to harassment. Their need of protection attracted disaffected Mera’din warriors who ultimately made their escape successful. One has to suspect that the widespread drunkenness affected the fighting ability of the Aiel as a whole in the Battle of Malden that day. On the other hand the Shaido were beaten and their captives freed because most Shaido Wise Ones did not drink wine but water. Perrin used the Wise Ones’ temperance against them by adding forkroot to the water supply.

A discussion of the courtly love theme, and all the themes and motifs of these three characters along with their real world parallels can be read in the newly written Faile and Berelain essay and in the Perrin essay.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Knife of Dreams Read-through #13: Black Ajah Activities in Knife of Dreams

By Linda

In Knife of Dreams the Black Ajah is gradually revealed to more characters, but is not publicly known until the end of the book.

This post will look at those Black sisters mentioned in Knife of Dreams.

With the Rebels:

Sheriam’s performance as Mistress of Novices was considered mediocre by Silviana:

“I’ve browsed her punishments book. She let the girls get away with too much, and was far too lenient with her favorites. As a result, she was forced to deal out correction much more often than she should have had to.”

- Knife of Dreams Prologue

Who were Sheriam’s favourites? And why? Were they prospective Darkfriends? Sheriam didn’t like the job (The Path of Daggers, Out on the Ice) and obviously it shows. (And Sheriam’s true commitment in time and effort was to the Black Ajah).

When Sheriam heard that Egwene was not to be tried and executed, she pushed for rescuing her since Aran’gar was of the opinion that the Tower split depended on Egwene leading the rebels. Sheriam blabbed the news to Lelaine:

"Siuan says Egwene is alive," Sheriam said as though relating the price of delta perch on the dockhead. "And Leane. Egwene spoke to Siuan's dreams. She refuses any attempt at a rescue." Myrelle gave her a sidelong glance, unreadable, but Siuan could have boxed her ears! Likely Lelaine would have been the next she sought out, but to tell her in her own way, not spilled out on the wharf like this. Of late, Sheriam had become as flighty as a novice!

- Knife of Dreams, When Last Sounds

It’s unlikely that Sheriam believed Lelaine would want to rescue Egwene, so it looks like she was ordered by Aran’gar to support Lelaine now that Egwene was not available. Presumably someone else was told to support Romanda to maintain the stalemate. Alternatively Sheriam was trying to limit Siuan’s influence, something both Sheriam and Aran’gar would like.

When the rebel Hall met, Sheriam hung around outside it, embarrassing everyone, including herself, probably with the intent of keeping Egwene’s claims alive:

Sheriam's green eyes were tight, as usual, and she fidgeted in an unbecoming manner, like a novice who knew she was due another visit to the Mistress of Novices.

- Knife of Dreams, Call to a Sitting

It sounds like she didn’t want to do this but was told to by Aran’gar.

Delana was openly instructed by Aran’gar on what to say and do in the Hall:

Indeed, the woman was gesturing emphatically while Delana merely nodded in the meekest manner imaginable. Meek!

- Knife of Dreams, Call to a Sitting

This was politically stupid of Aran’gar since it would only erode Delana’s credibility further.

When Narishma mentioned the Forsaken who channelled saidin to the Hall, Delana didn’t wait to hear any more but rushed out to tell Aran’gar, especially since the rebels now know a weave to detect saidin being channelled. They fled the rebel camp. Delana’s judgement was correct: Romanda soon worked out who the Forsaken was.

As Romanda observed, Moria seemed anxious when Lelaine called for a Sitting:

Moria, in blue wool embroidered with silver, was striding up and down in front of the blue-covered platforms. Was her frown because she knew why Lelaine had called the Hall and disapproved, or because she was worried over not knowing?

- Knife of Dreams, Call to a Sitting

Moria knew something of what Merise and Narishma would say since she was asked by Lelaine to fetch them from the Blue Ajah tents, so I think she didn’t want this offer made, but couldn’t stop it without exposing herself.

When she (and Malind and Escaralde) suggested the rebels make an agreement with the Black Tower it was never meant to succeed:

Romanda and the others might have stood in favor of this nonsensical "alliance" with the Black Tower, but from that moment on they had fought like drunken cart drivers over how to implement it, how to word the agreement, how to present it, every single detail corn apart, put back together and torn apart again. The thing was doomed, thank the Light.

- Knife of Dreams, The Dark One’s Touch

but merely to cause as much contention within the rebel Hall and the rebels as a whole as possible, knowing that such contention would prevent anything actually being done about contacting the Asha’man, and to make it almost impossible for the Tower to reunite.

Ironically Moria accelerated the exposure of Aran’gar in an attempt to erode Narishma’s credibility when she asked him about a woman channelling saidin. Therefore she never reported to Aran’gar – this is backed up by the way Delana seemed to work the Hall factions by herself.

Nacelle invented a weave for detecting a man’s channelling and tried it out on Narishma in the rebel Hall. At the least this would have limited Aran’gar’s channelling (even if s/he reversed the weaves her channelling might still be detected with the weave), so it was an added reason for Aran’gar had to flee.

With Rand

While Rand’s group was assembling to meet “the Daughter of the Nine Moons”, Elza

was frowning at Rand, too, one hand on the shoulder of her tall, lean Warder Fearil as if she were gripping a guard dog's collar and thinking of loosing him. Not against Rand, certainly, but he worried for anyone she thought might be threatening him.

- Knife of Dreams, A Plain Wooden Box

Likely Elza felt the Seanchan might ambush Rand at the meeting. She would lose access to him then and wouldn’t be able to ensure he live to be killed by the Dark One.

In Caemlyn

According to Pevara, Duhara left Tar Valon by ship, but no one knew where to. There is no proof either way as to whether Duhara was taught Travelling by Alviarin (she is strong enough to Travel). Duhara might have been ordered to do a few errands for Mesaana or Alviarin when she went ashore, before Travelling to just outside Caemlyn a feasible time later. She could not be seen to arrive in Caemlyn too soon. Or she spent the whole time on her arduous journey as she emphasises:

"A poor welcome, Elayne, when I came to the palace as soon as I arrived. And after a journey that would be as torturous to describe as it was to endure.

- Knife of Dreams, House on Full Moon Street

(I think she protested too much, myself.)

Elaida sent Duhara to be Elayne’s advisor. Duhara knew a lot about what is going on in Caemlyn before she arrived; she was well-briefed. She said that the political opposition to Elayne’s claim is due to Elayne not having Tower backing and when Elayne refused to even have her in the Palace threatened to make trouble:

"You won't fend me off so easily, child. No one fends off the White Tower easily. Think, and you'll see I'm your only hope." Silk whisked against silk as she left the room, and the door clicked shut behind her. It seemed very possible Duhara would cause trouble trying to make herself needed, but one problem at a time.

- Knife of Dreams, The House on Full Moon Street

On the other hand, what would Duhara do to try forcing her acceptance as an advisor? Duhara would try to meddle somehow, but she could not see how. Burn her, she did not need any more difficulties between her and the throne.

- Knife of Dreams, The House on Full Moon Street

Duhara might try to rescue the Black Ajah prisoners unless forbidden to by a Forsaken. She might encourage Jarid Sarand to make trouble. (Her opportunity to do this openly is dwindling: soon her allegiance will be known by Elayne, at least.)

It was to arrest Falion and Marillin as Darkfriends that Elyane raided Shiaine’s house. She didn’t know four other Black sisters were there.

Marillin had heard Elayne had a woman Warder but disbelieved it and didn’t pass on the information. She revealed that Careane was Black and Vandene killed Careane in revenge for Adeleas.

Asne showed a fondness for weapons. She stunned Elayne and co with an Age of Legends ‘gun’ and used the balefire rod to carve through Elayne’s rescue forces. The Windfinders killed her with lightning.

Chesmal killed Vandene and Sareitha and their Warders with the Power.

Temaile took pleasure in binding, blindfolding and gagging Elayne cruelly.

Erith deduced that Elayne’s group had disguised their weaves and the glow of the Power and wanted to learn this.

These Black sisters were captured by Birgitte and the Windfinders and are now held prisoner. Duhara may rescue them unless forbidden to. The only Black sister in Caemlyn who knew how to do the Travelling weave, Careane, is dead unless Alviarin taught Duhara. Other Black sisters could yet stop by though to tell Duhara to leave Caemlyn, or to help her free the prisoners.

In the Tower

The rest of the White Ajah consider Alviarin to have brought shame upon the Ajah with her demotion. She is beaten every morning by Silviana at Elaida’s orders.

Alviarin told Katerine to spread news of Dumai’s Wells (Knife of Dreams Prologue) and ordered that news of the Black Tower debacle be spread in a similar way.

Alviarin collected three Black Ajah reports. One was about Talene leaving the Greens’ quarters with luggage, and the other two were that Yukiri and Doesine slept behind wards against intruders. She wrote orders that Talene is to be found and brought back and that Doesine and Yukiri are to be closely watched. Whenever she encountered Egwene she tried to lure Egwene into her clutches by saying that she must want to escape.

Katerine told the Red Ajah that Galina died at Dumai’s Wells. Sashalle’s letter indicated otherwise but was disbelieved.

Katerine obeyed Alviarin’s orders to inform other sisters of what happened at Dumai’s Wells to discredit Elaida which meant she disobeyed the Highest’s orders to do the opposite.

She helped capture Egwene and was one of the Reds who watched over Egwene regularly.

After Alviarin saw how Talene looked to Doesine and Yukiri for guidance during a meeting with Elaida, Talene was ordered to appear before the Supreme Council. She knew this boded ill and begged to be hidden way. She was taken to the Tower basement. Black sisters were ordered to search for her. In The Gathering Storm A Visit From Verin Sedai, we learn that Talene fled the Tower during Knife of Dreams.

Atuan was broken with the Chair of Remorse and named the other members of her heart, Karale and Marris, who were treated in the same way. The extra sisters they know are out of the Tower. All three are passing on whatever they hear.

Consistent with Alviarin’s orders to undermine Elaida by talking of the failure of Toveine’s expedition, Evanellein called for Elaida to be deposed due to the debacle at the Black Tower but was overruled by the other Grey leaders on the grounds that the Tower must be mended and the Seanchan and Asha’man dealt with.

Miyasi argued logic with two other Whites about reality changing while they guarded Leane.

Nesita was one of Egwene’s guards. The one time Egwene refused to drink forkroot Nesita forced it down her gullet.

Zanica was one of those who caught Leane and insisted on rushing back to the Tower with her.

With the Shaido

Therava makes Galina abase herself for a chance to touch saidar.

Neald and Gaul captured Galina and took her to Perrin, whom she tried to manipulate into not attacking the Shaido. When this failed she tried to delay him. She asked Perrin to hit her in the face to provide evidence for her excuses to Therava but he refused. Berelain did it.

Therava beat Galina severely anyway – the injustice just added spice - and singed off all the hair on her body and made her wear nothing but the gold belt and collar until the bruises on Galina’s face healed. When Galina was finally clothed again, Therava added a big red bow to the short regrowth of hair on her head.

Galina planned to revenge herself on Elaida and others once she was free. When Faile and co told her they had the Oath Rod, she lured them to the deserted part of Malden and trapped them under rubble. She tried to flee the Shaido but was caught by Therava and is now accompanying her to the Waste as her slave. She is forbidden to ride, or touch the Oath Rod, or to try to escape.

With the Seanchan

Liandrin killed Alwhin with poison in a mistaken attempt to gain favour with Suroth. She was beaten for not being a proper dacovale.

Suroth said she would have Liandrin collared and paired with a Darkfried sul’dam but probably didn’t get to do so. Collared or not, Liandrin is now the property of Tuon.

There are plenty of other Black sisters, including Verin, but they aren’t onscreen in Knife of Dreams.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Knife of Dreams Read-through #12: Sylvase

By Linda

In the Winter’s Heart read-through I looked at the character development of Teslyn and one astute reader pointed out that her reactions indicate possible sexual abuse. In this post I shall look at another character who has the same: Sylvase Caeren.

Sylvase’s grandfather Lord Nasin was High Seat and forced himself on any woman he could; even other High Seats had trouble refusing him. He got away with it because he was head of a powerful House and because he was demented.

Throughout Crossroads of Twilight and most of Knife of Dream Sylvase had an expressionless face. Such emotional withdrawal can be a sign of abuse. According to Norry:

“her grandfather chased away every man who showed interest in her until men stopped showing interest, and she has been virtually a prisoner since reaching her majority. That would tend to give anyone a dark view of the world. She may not . . . um ... be as trustworthy as you could wish, my Lady."

- Knife of Dreams, The Importance of Dyelin

The imprisonment itself is a form of abuse. Nasin claimed he was keeping her safe from fortune-hunters (Crossroads of Twilight, Gathering Darkness), but it was an excellent excuse which may well cover something far more sinister. Considering Nasin’s current behaviour, he is likely to have sexually abused Sylvase as well. Note that unlike everyone else, Sylvase made a point of watching the maid coerced into accepting Nasin’s sexual favours go to his tent with him (Crossroads of Twilight, Gathering Darkness).

The effect of his actions in driving all men away was to keep her all to himself and totally under his control. At the least, by claiming that men only want her for her money, he was making her feel worthless as a person.

More recently, Nasin left Sylvase under the ‘protection’ of Arymilla, ostensibly to keep her safe, but actually so she, his heir, could not replace him as High Seat (Crossroads of Twilight, Gathering Darkness). He was partly aware that he had lost his mental faculties, but was determined to retain his position until his death (Knife of Dreams, A Bronze Bear).

Sylvase is less stupid than she appears: she questioned the value of attacking Caemlyn without the support of Luan and the other High Seats and asked why they did not accept Luan’s truce until they forced the Borderlanders away (Knife of Dreams, A Bronze Bear). She also understood what Elayne’s acceptance of her support would entail.

Nasin almost pleaded with Sylvase, his granddaughter and heir, not to replace him before he died:

His smile faded, and an odd note entered his voice. It might almost have been...pleading. "Remember, you will be High Seat of Caeren after I'm gone. After I'm gone. You will be High Seat."

- Knife of Dreams, A Bronze Bear

or perhaps he held out the promise of High Seat as a reward for putting up with him. All it did was encourage thoughts of what her life could be like if he were gone and suggest a way out of her troubles.

Sylvase claimed that Nasin died of a seizure during the assault on the Far Madding Gate (Knife of Dreams, Nine Out of Ten). While this is possible, it is remarkably convenient. However, Nasin had made such a pest of himself that no one was going to quibble. Sylvase’s cousins for instance promptly confirmed her as High Seat.

Nasin had kept Sylvase powerless and confined, so this was the first opportunity to rid herself of him and get away with it. In the confusion of battle it wouldn’t be difficult to kill him in a way that passed as natural causes. For instance she could stun him and suffocate him. An old man would die of suffocation rapidly. Any slight wound on his head could be passed off as him hitting his head when he fell. If anyone saw her bending over him she could say that he had taken ill and she was trying to help him. Her prompt employment of the interrogator Jac Lounalt once Arymilla was captured suggests she is bent on revenge enough to have killed her grandfather, or gotten someone such as Lounalt to do it. (Though the latter option leaves her more vulnerable and she has probably had enough of that).

Now that Nasin is dead, Sylvase’s eyes are alert (Knife of Dreams, Nine Out of Ten) and she is openly expressive. She has dropped her protective mask of withdrawal because Nasin’s death has set her free. The abuse has stopped.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Knife of Dreams Read-through #11: The Maiming of Heroes

By Linda

In Knife of Dreams the wounded Hero Rand became maimed as well when Semirhage burned his hand off. He had told Min that he would rather lose an arm than hurt her

"Trust me, Min. I won’t hurt you. I will cut off my arm before I hurt you.” She was silent, and he finally looked down to find her peering up at him with a strange expression.
“That’s very nice to hear, sheepherder.” Her voice was as odd as her face.

-Lord of Chaos, The Mirror of Mists

and that is what happened: he would not dodge the attack because Min was right behind him. (Her reaction to his declaration suggests that she had a viewing of Rand losing his hand.) Rand sacrificed his hand to Semirhage just as the Norse god Tyr did to the monstrous wolf Fenrir (see Rand essay).

So far we have one maimed Hero, modelled on one-handed gods like Tyr and Nuada, but there are likely to be two maimed Heroes, since Mat has many parallels with Odin (see Mat essay) and Odin sacrificed an eye to gain knowledge. Mat is about to go to an Otherworld noted for its access to knowledge (and mysterious items). The woman he is on a mission to rescue there has always been the embodiment of knowledge – even if in the past it was incomplete or faulty knowledge. I have theorised that Mat will lose his eye in the world of the Finns (here).

Since the number three is so important in the Wheel of Time, will the third ta’veren also be maimed or at least suffer a chronic wound?

So far Perrin has been hale and whole compared to Rand and Mat. Rand is wounded because he is one with the Land and the Land is being blighted by the Shadow. On the other side of the coin, Rand’s corrupting link with Moridin is also affecting the Land adversely. The loss of his hand represents Rand's (hopefully temporary) loss of strength and humanity.

Mat’s wound – his broken bones and aching hip sustained in Ebou Dar – are a symbol of his dread of the One Power. Eyes are symbols of awareness, vigilance, foresight and honesty, while covered eyes can be a sign of deceit. Mat means to trick the Finns to rescue Moiraine and may lose an eye as a consequence.

If Perrin were wounded it would represent his fear of losing his humanity or those close to him. He would do whatever it takes to avoid either.

Perrin has parallels with smith gods and many of them are lamed, usually by those who force them to work for them. In The Gathering Storm there has been some emphasis on Perrin feeling unable to run and jump freely with the wolves in the Dream:

'Jump down, Young Bull. Jump. It is safe.' As always, the Sending from the wolf came as a mixture of scents and images. Perrin was getting better and better at interpreting those — the soft earth as a representation of the ground, rushing wind as an image of jumping, the scent of relaxation and calmness to indicate there was no need to fear.
"But how?"
'Times before, you always rushed ahead, like a pup newly weaned. Jump. Jump down!' Far below, Hopper sat on his haunches in the field, grinning up at Perrin.
Perrin ground his teeth and muttered a curse or two for stubborn wolves. It seemed to him that the dead ones were particularly bull-headed. Though Hopper did have a point. Perrin had leaped before in this place, if never from the sky itself...
'Run,' Hopper urged, obviously confused at Perrin's reluctance.
"I can't," Perrin said, stopping.

- The Gathering Storm, Embers and Ash

He has ‘hamstrung’ himself. Wolves usually do the hamstringing rather than be victims of it. I wonder if this isn’t an indication that Perrin will be grievously wounded in the leg. Legs represent strength and stability, both of which are important features of Perrin's character.

The Shadow would really proclaim its strength if it could strike or even cripple the most life-affirming and least destructive of the three ta’veren.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Knife of Dreams Read-through #10: No Figurehead

By Linda

When Egwene was captured, the rebels assumed that, as a woman falsely claiming to be Amyrlin, she would be tried and executed. Siuan’s news that Egwene is a prisoner but otherwise OK is greeted with varying reactions.

The Group of Six

Sheriam’s instinct was to rush off and rescue Egwene, since the rebellion and the Tower split depended on Egwene leading the rebels, and perhaps to let Aran’gar know what was happening. She was bitter about Egwene’s determination to reunite the Tower peacefully (because it will annoy Aran’gar?)

Myrelle wanted to follow Sheriam’s lead for a rescue.

Carlinya thought logically about the situation but did not come up with an answer.

Morvrin was correct in what she said. She deduced that Egwene is to be broken.

Beonin convinced herself that Egwene is now no longer Amyrlin and therefore no longer requires her obedience and that the rebels would soon return to the Tower. So she decided to beat them to it and report to Elaida. She was Elaida’s mole.

Although very ambitious, Beonin doesn’t stay in the Tower to play politics, but travels even to rough places to deliver justice to all, including the humblest, and has been in danger from those who would pervert justice. She is one of the few Aes Sedai who realises what the Tower lost through not actively searching for channellers and notices how all the new novices accept the discipline easily enough, contrary to Tower received wisdom. These are really positive aspects, but her excessive ambition is not.

Nisao is not regarded as part of their “group.” Is this because she is Yellow and Yellow was allied to the Red? Or merely because she wasn’t one of the original clique? Nisao continued to follow Egwene’s orders to ask about Anaiya and Kairen because unlike the other five she actually accepted Egwene’s authority.


Lelaine held Faolain and interrogated her. She justified the kidnapping by saying that Faolain is a spy and really only an Accepted. Yet it is illegal to do this to any initiate of the Tower. Lelaine wanted a) to know what the group of six were up to and how much influence they had with Egwene, b) to have a hold on the group, and c) to know what Egwene planned so Lelaine can use it or counter it.

Lelaine is not Ajah Head since Siuan said:

"I'm faithful to you as a Sitter for my Ajah,”

- Knife of Dreams, When Last Sounds

It would be much harder for Siuan to refuse Lelaine if she were Head of the Blue.

Lelaine doesn’t believe Egwene’s report of the Ajahs turning on each other. (Egwene understated it if anything, since she had not seen worst of it yet). She considered that Elaida might make Egwene Accepted again, but dismissed it.

When Siuan asked Lelaine if she would heed Egwene’s call to a Sitting of the Hall in Tel’aran’rhiod Lelaine considered not going, but realised it wasn’t very politic. It was too soon to dump Egwene; it would make her look faithless.

Lelaine’s unscrupulousness and ambition outweighs that of Romanda by far and she is shown as potentially almost as bad as Elaida.


Shortly after she retired, Romanda went ‘back home’ to Far Madding and got into trouble there, since she had to leave in a hurry. She is rather old-fashioned, not unusual in an elderly woman, and unlike Beonin only wants novices of the traditional age. She has the same attitude about Sitters, though she is right about needing experienced ones. However her suggestion of Dagdara would have been disastrous, since Dagdara is/was Black.

The rebel Sitters keen on negotiations – Varilin, Magla, Takima, Faiselle, Saroiya – seem to be agreeing to most of Elaida’s strictures, except the abolition of the Blue Ajah. All former Tower Sitters, they are seriously trying to reunite the Tower. We learn in The Gathering Storm, that they were sent to do this very task. Romanda and Lelaine stop them from being too conciliatory.

Romanda believes what Egwene said about the inter-Ajah hostility and Elaida demanding the rebels do extensive penance before they are readmitted to their Ajahs. The Yellow are no longer staunch allies of the Red, though Elaida’s actions contributed to a lot of this ill feeling. It is quite telling that Romanda would even prefer Lelaine as Amyrlin than Elaida!

Romanda notices that Sharina is youthening, as are a number of older novices, but RJ said that Sharina won’t become young:

As an aside, I saw somewhere that I supposedly said that Sharina Melloy will not grow younger. If I did, then I misspoke. Sharina will not grow young, but she will grow younger in appearance, as will any other older women who begin to channel. For Sharina, by way of example, she will “regress” into apparent middle age, but no younger.

- Robert Jordan on his blog, Dec 2005

ie she won’t undergo a reverse menopause.

When told Sharina is very skilled at the new Healing (and would probably join the Yellow), as is a number of older novices, Romanda reconsiders her intention to get rid of the older novices. Since strength in the Power determines rank, and Sharina is stronger than any other woman associated with the Tower, the status of the Yellow would increase if she joined it. And the Yellow’s numbers (and skill level) would also increase if the older novices were allowed to join. It is quite a dilemma for her, but at least she is thinking about it.

Rand’s Offer

What Moria (and Malind and Escaralde) intended when she suggested the agreement with the Black Tower did take place:

Romanda and the others might have stood in favor of this nonsensical "alliance" with the Black Tower, but from that moment on they had fought like drunken cart drivers over how to implement it, how to word the agreement, how to present it, every single detail torn apart, put back together and torn apart again. The thing was doomed, thank the Light.

- Knife of Dreams, The Dark One’s Touch

which was to cause as much contention within the rebel Hall and the rebels as a whole as possible, knowing that such contention would prevent anything actually being done about contacting the Asha’man, and to make it almost impossible for the Tower to reunite.

Sheriam can’t go into the Hall without the Amyrlin, but she hangs around outside it – eavesdropping? Keeping Egwene’s status as Amyrlin alive and therefore the rebellion going?

Lelaine is quite smug about being the one to bring Merise to tell the Hall of Rand’s proposal. Judging by the body language Romanda observes, Lelaine seems to think the offer for the rebels to Bond 47 Asha’man brings her nearer to being Amyrlin. Lelaine makes an unusual request to prevent onlookers from hearing proceedings, but allow them to see them. She is steering a careful course between letting the rank and file know something of what is going on to enhance her standing among them, but not annoying her fellow Sitters who would vote for her, or giving Romanda an opportunity to override her on matters of Hall security or protocol.

Malind brings Nacelle (a Darkfriend) to try out her weave of detecting male channelling in the Hall. This is against the law of Sealed to the Hall and the law against channelling in the Hall without permission.

Faiselle tried to debate Rand’s offer and she and Saroiya refused to stand for it.

The rebel Sitters finally know saidin is clean but not how that occurred.

Ironically it was the Darkfriend Moria who asked Narishma about a woman channelling saidin. Therefore she never reported to Aran’gar – this is backed up by the way Delana seemed to work the Hall factions by herself. Though admittedly from Sheriam’s comments in The Gathering Storm, In Darkness, Sheriam didn’t know what Aran’gar used on her until she heard about this.

Lelaine obstructed the search for the murderer of Anaiya, Setagana and Kairen ostensibly because it supposedly impinged on Blues’ rights, but actually because it was an example of Egwene’s continued authority. Romanda, on the other hand, solved the crime. This takes some of the shine off Lelaine's promotion of an alternative arrangement with the Asha'man.

Comparisons with the Tower

To their credit, the rebels share the new weaves and knowledge with all. In contrast, Elaida parcels them out only to those she trusts (often untrustworthy!) until Egwene and Leane share most of them. They hold back Travelling.

It was Mesaana’s idea and Alviarin’s organisation, but what they turned the Tower into was a reflection of Elaida – bullying, partial, selfish and megalomaniac. Not that the seeds weren’t already there, but...

Friday, July 2, 2010

Knife of Dreams Read-through #9: The Broken Bargain

By Linda

In Knife of Dreams, To Make An Anchor Weep, we learn of the mass murder/suicide of the Amayar. This was triggered by the female Choedan Kal statue melting after the Cleansing:

"The Amayar were all dead or dying. Men. women"—her voice broke—"children…Everywhere I have been, it was the same. They gave their children a poison that put them into a deep sleep from which they did not waken. It seems there was not enough of that to go around, so many of the adults took slower poisons. Some lived long enough to be found and tell the tale. The Great Hand on Tremalking melted. The hill where it stood reportedly is now a deep hollow. It seems the Amayar had prophecies that spoke of the Hand, and when it was destroyed, they believed this signaled the end of time, what they called the end of Illusion. They believed it was time for them to leave this . . . this illusion"—she laughed the word bitterly— "we call the world."
"Have none been saved?" Zaida asked. "None at all?" Tears glistened on her cheeks, too, but Harine could not fault her on that. Her own cheeks were wet.
"None, Shipmistress."
Zaida stood, and tears or no tears, she held the aura of command, and her voice was steady. "The fastest ships must be sent to every island. Even to those of Aile Somera. A way must be found. When the salt first stilled after the Breaking, the Amayar asked our protection from brigands and raiders, and we owe them protection still. If we can find only a handful who still live, we still owe it."

- Knife of Dreams, To Make An Anchor Weep

Moghedien was amazed that the sa’angreal had survived that long while being used at that level (Winter’s Heart, With the Choedan Kal) so it is no great surprise to learn that it disintegrated on completion of the task. According to the Amayar’s prophecies its destruction heralded the end of time, what they called the end of Illusion and they killed themselves to ‘go on’ before everyone else. Like all other people in the Wheel of Time world we have encountered, the Amayar were millenarian, believing in the division of history into periods that are multiples of thousand years, with each period ending in a trauma and with the promise of a return to an Age of happiness, and apocalyptic, believing in the world’s progress to a prophesied cataclysmic appointed end, but they had no messianic beliefs, no prophecy of a world saviour who will avert the Dark One’s victory and the end of time, to give them hope. The Amayar’s beliefs and their consequences are discussed in the Time of Illusions article now republished on the blog.

Soon after the Breaking, the Amayar asked the Sea Folk to protect them from marauders. They had a pacifist philosophy – called the Water Way later in the Third Age – and were probably descended from the Da’shian Aiel. The Mistress of the Ships said the Sea Folk (as a whole) still owe the Amayar that protection (Knife of Dreams, To Make An Anchor Weep). The word ‘owe’ implies some sort of obligation. Since the Sea Folk never do anything without receiving something in exchange, and the intra-Age period was a time of extreme hardship when even the most self-sacrificing altruistic people resorted to selfishness and pragmatism, presumably the original agreement was a very long-running Bargain of some kind. The Sea Folk are the sole marketers and distributors of “Sea Folk porcelain” and fine glassware which is, or rather was, actually made by the Amayar (The World of Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time). They charge considerably higher prices for it than they pay the Amayar:

The Atha'an Miere generally receive credit for their craftsmanship, but the Amayar do not care. They are aware of the mainland, know the prices charged by the Atha'an Miere, and are satisfied with the prices they receive, which is all that matters to them.

- The World of Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time

and would have made a tidy profit from it over the centuries. The Sea Folk also have exclusive use of devices such as spectacles (The Shadow Rising, The Wavedancer) probably crafted by the Amayar. At least in part, such craftsmanship is probably what the Amayar offered the Sea Folk in exchange for protection. Their excellent lenses, the best known anywhere, for instance, would have been immediately useful. Note that the agreement was made just after the Breaking, not during, so trade in non-essential items would be starting to resume.

Logain insisted that the Sea Folk give higher priority to their bargain with Rand and meet their obligations to him first, before those of protecting and saving the Amayar. The Sea Folk were aghast at the consequences of all their fastest ships being committed to Rand’s bargain; of being unable to give medical aid and protect the Amayar, and not fulfilling their bargain. They didn’t immediately consider that they could Travel to the islands rather than sail there, although hopefully that realisation came after not too much hand-wringing. We have yet to see the consequences of the enforced change in the priorities of their obligations, including how lower ranked Sea Folk feel about it.