Monday, February 28, 2011

The Gathering Storm Read-Through #2: Prologue POVs 4-6

By Linda


This post covers the second half of The Gathering Storm Prologue, starting with Graendal’s POV.

Graendal’s parallels are really obvious in the first scene of this POV: man-hungry Circe in her lair, which is a palace in a forest above a lake like Nazi leader Hermann Goering’s Carinhall (see Graendal essay for more on her parallels). She has enslaved a member of the Merchant Council and is tempted or distracted by Moridin’s messenger; he makes her think about killing Moridin.

She doesn’t appear to be as intelligent as RJ’s earlier portrayals of her. Normally her shallowness is a facade to deceive others, here it is more pervasive. For example, she criticises Mesaana’s appearance and suggests Mesaana joined the Shadow for research opportunities. Yet Graendal made a different and rather better diagnosis of Mesaana’s motives in Lord of Chaos. Graendal also daydreams of putting Moridin under Compulsion to serve her as her pet. She is fooled by one of Moridin’s serving men:

There was silence in the too-black room for a time, and then a servant in a crisp red uniform entered, bearing two cups. He was an ugly thing, with a flat face and bushy eyebrows, worth no more than a passing glance.

- The Gathering Storm, Prologue

He was probably watching her while she disregarded him and so was definitely worth more than a passing glance. (This servant appears to be the reverse of the beautiful, white-clad zomaran, but perhaps has a similar role in unexpectedly ‘reading’ Moridin’s guests.)

Moridin is in the deep Northeastern Blight in a black stone building with no glass in windows. Just as Graendal has her Carinhall, so Moridin could own multiple towers/fortresses as the Nazis did. Shadowspawn in this part of the Blight supposedly only obey the Dark One, not even Moridin. It is hot and very austere. Graendal used to be into austerity, but she isn’t now. Or did she only like her own austerity and not anyone else’s? A thinly-veiled holier-than-thou?

Moridin has become more stern and authoritative – more like Rand. He stands staring at nothing like Rand does. Rand and Moridin are merging. Moridin, the would-be captor of the Fisher King, is himself becoming like the Fisher King.

Unlike Rand, Moridin is obsessed with killing Mat and Perrin. Graendal wants to kill Rand instead, as probably all the Forsaken except Moridin do. Each one thinks they are the only one who dares to consider killing Rand against orders. Moridin doesn’t want Rand dead yet until he is in the right place at the right time:

”He is to live unharmed until he can face me at that last day.”

- The Gathering Storm, Prologue

The other Forsaken disregard this. Does Moridin think that the Pattern will look after Rand until the Last Moment or when Rand breaks the Seals and that is the Shadow’s chance to kill him and win?

Graendal sees Moridin as:

lacking in imagination lately. Everything of black and red, and all focused on killing those fool boys from the village of Rand al'Thor.

The Gathering Storm, Prologue

Is Moridin unimaginative? Or setting them an example of focus? Or is he fooling them all?

Demandred and Mesaana asked for the meeting with Moridin, and arrived together for moral support and to show a united front to Moridin while they ask his aid in rescuing Semirhage. They didn’t think that anyone else would be there that would need fooling – least of all Graendal. Graendal should have known this or been quicker to figure it out.

Moiridin invited her along to put them off balance and to humiliate them; and to manipulate Graendal, too, to make her feel like she should, and could, outdo Demandred, Mesaana and the hapless Semirhage and do what Moridin wants.

A woman – a Darkfriend? A Black Sister? – reported to Mesaana and Demandred that Semirhage didn’t intend to harm Rand, and that injuring him was a reflex. Did this woman witness it personally, or was she told by other witnesses? Elza was not personally present during the attack. Maybe the informant was a sul’dam or damane. The fact that all the Seanchan were revolted by Semirhage’s declaration of her identity means nothing, such is her reputation on both sides.

Demandred says that Semirhage knows he would kill her for killing Rand, because the Dragon’s death is his prerogative. Big deal. Demandred is not convincing here. All the Forsaken are planning on killing Rand if they can and none worry about big shot Demandred paying them out for it.

There will be no rescue of Semirhage as punishment for her failure and because she injured Rand when this was forbidden. and Demandred and Mesaana are forbidden to rescue her.

Rand’s injury pains Moridin, which is why he doesn’t want Rand harmed physically. He’s going to go for psychological pain instead. If he thought he wouldn’t be affected by it, or that it would be less difficult to bear than physical pain, he was wrong. Or maybe he was willing to bear it. The way Moridin lives now – the bleakness and discomfort – would add to Rand’s misery, as would Moridin’s displeasure and frustration with Semirhage. Quite probably Moridin’s fortress serves the dual purpose of adding to Rand’s discomfort through the link, while also intimidating other Forsaken. Moridin’s trying to drive Rand over the edge, but will he feel it too? Moridin’s showing a raw temper like Rand and all his lighter mockery is gone. This becomes obvious when the two souls meet in Tel’aran’rhiod as their old, true selves.

Humiliated or not, Demandred and Mesaana tell something of their plans. Mesaana says she will have all Aes Sedai serving the Shadow and that the White Tower will soon fall to her. She claims she is gaining followers all the time – some knowingly, others not. Who are these followers? And who are they following? We didn’t see much evidence of it in The Gathering Storm or Towers of Midnight. Graendal regards Mesaana’s claims as unsubstantiated boasts.

Demandred prepares for war, and says he will be ready. So he’s not quite ready yet. Is he conning Moridin as much as Mesaana is? He’s ruling someone or something supposedly. Neither we nor Graendal have any idea what Demandred is doing. Graendal thinks he’s a fool to bear a grudge against Lew Therin; that it is a waste of energy and time. Is Demandred with the Borderlander armies? Or on the Seanchan continent?

Graendal has spies on the Borderlander camp but has seen no sign of other Forsaken there. She knows which Aes Sedai Mesaana is pretending to be and has agents watching her. Graendal doesn’t know that Aran’gar left the rebels at least two weeks earlier. She has only just discovered that Semirhage was masquerading as a high-ranking Seanchan.

Lanfear and Moghedien are rallying Darkfriends and trying to kill Mat and Perrin, according to Graendal. She’s probably right: it was probably Lanfear who set Masema up to kill Perrin – her typical modus operandi of dreams and madness was used; and Masema was nearly successful.

Graendal thinks that:

Moridin was gathering the Great Lord's forces for the Last Battle, and his war preparations left him very little time for the south.

The Gathering Storm, Prologue

Despite what Graendal thinks, Moridin probably is doing more than war preparations. Moridin, like Demandred, is very hard to read and keep tabs on, as Graendal discovers on her next visit to Moridin’s fortress in Towers of Midnight.

Graendal didn’t know what to make of Moridin’s looking at her while rebuking Mesaana:

"You will speak when I give you leave, Mesaana," he replied coldly. "You are not yet forgiven."
She cringed, then obviously grew angry at herself for it. Moridin ignored her, glancing over at Graendal, eyes narrow. What was that look for?

The Gathering Storm, Prologue

Again, this is something that Graendal should be able to work out. Moridin looks at Graendal with narrowed eyes because he is seeing if she is taking note of the situation or to make her take note. (And Graendal oversteps far more than Mesaana does.) His look is also designed to annoy Demandred and Mesaana by reminding them they are pleading in front of Graendal.

Moridin tempts Graendal with a carrot, offering a small reward to her in advance, to get her to prevent Rand pacifying Arad Doman, and to bring him emotional pain. The latter order is added seemingly as an afterthought, but is probably more important to his strategy of getting Rand to despair. It very nearly worked. Rand nearly did the Dark One’s job of destroying everything including himself. Moridin is motivating Graendal rather than ordering her, so perhaps her task is a very risky one. I guess the example of Semirhage has sobered them all up.

Ituralde’s POV shows his skill as one of the Great Captains. In this scene he fools the Seanchan and the reader into thinking he has far more forces than he does and that the Seanchan will be attacked on two fronts. Like his later battle in the Borderlands, his victory is one few others could achieve but comes at a high cost. Knowing how good he is, his vain struggles to save Maradon in Towers of Midnight are all the more impressive. Ituralde is the king of lost causes and unwinnable battles.

Will Ituralde have his wish to have access to raken for aerial surveillance? He is one for whom the Seanchan now have great respect, so he may direct some of their forces in the Last Battle. Mat Cauthon can’t be everywhere.

In Masema’s POV we see that despite his words the Prophet’s heart isn’t too pure, but full of personal ambition. He isn’t thinking about how he can help Rand to victory, but about what Rand’s victory will do for him. Masema wants to be raised up to the level just below Rand as his Prophet:

Think not of the past, think of the future, when the Lord Dragon would rule all of the land! When men would be subject only to him, and to his Prophet beneath him. Those days would be glorious indeed, days when none would dare scorn the Prophet or deny his will.

The Gathering Storm Prologue

From what Lanfear told Rand, Asmodean dreamed of something similar:

He dreams of you triumphing over the Great Lord and putting him up beside you on high.

- The Fires of Heaven, Gateways

The two men are not that far apart. They both induced large groups to butcher innocents, ravage the countryside and provide an unwelcome distraction. Masema betrayed the Creator, and Asmodean the Dark One and probably both were meddled with by Lanfear. Masema lost his sanity, Asmodean most of his channelling ability. Both men professed allegiance to Rand, but were not that useful, and both were ambushed and killed by women.

Masema admits the failure of his Dragonsworn movement was his fault – but for the wrong reason. He regrets not killing Perrin long ago in The Great Hunt, before Masema even followed Rand. The night before the battle of Malden Masema saw a vision of Rand commanding him to kill Perrin. He sent Aram to do it. The “vision’ was probably created by one of the Forsaken; Lanfear is the most likely perpetrator. Sending people mad and manipulating their dreams was her modus operandi in the Age of Legends. Moreover Masema’s uncertain mental state can be traced back to early in The Dragon Reborn, when very few of the Forsaken knew where Rand was or who he was with. Lanfear was one who did.

Wandering in dark woods is symbolic of Masema’s state of mind. His memories of life as Masema are blurry, another sign of mental manipulations such as induced insanity or Compulsion.

Can someone be blamed for being sent mad or going mad?

Masema blames Darkfriends for the high casualty rate he suffered at Malden. He assumed the Dragon would protect the Dragonsworn (from afar, even) and lead them to victory. Likewise in the next book, Galad believed the Children would be strong and protected by their belief in the Light and the Creator, until casualties showed him otherwise. His sanity contrasts with Masema’s. One minute Masema is proud and fond of followers, the next contemptuous and thinking they are cowardly or Darkfriends. However, Asunawa also accused Whitecloaks of being Darkfriends when things did not go his way.

This scene of Faile killing Masema reinforces that Faile is important in her own right. The Prophet started out like John the Baptist, and unlike Salome, Faile “took his head” personally. Ambushing Masema in the woods while dressed in green, she is Wild Woman defending her Wild Man husband (see Faile and Berelain and Perrin essays for more on their parallels).

Just as Masema and Asmodean mirror each other, so the Dragonsworn and Darkfriends are both millenarian extremists.

Masema’s followers were renowned for their abnormal, often violent, behaviour in their efforts to recruit for the Dragon. Masema’s concentration on the Dragon’s rebirth and imminent salvation of the world and rejection of everything else as useless is typically millenarian. He preached that belief in the Dragon and obedience to his word is enough to ensure the defeat of the Shadow.

The Forsaken/Darkfriends are far more developed as a millenarian cult. This is hardly surprising, since they were established more than three thousand years ago and it is their master, the Dark One, who wants to end the world as it currently is. From the Shadow’s point of view, their victory will usher in an eternity of rule under the Dark One – a dark eternity of an evil paradise where they will be the elect. Many Darkfriends are in the same mould:

Unlike the Forsaken, Darkfriends have not known immortality, yet they have survived as a society for over three thousand years, serving and waiting for Tarmon Gai’don: the Last Battle…Some extremists are deeply dedicated to obtaining freedom for the Dark One and thus immortality and dominion for themselves.

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

On the other hand, while the Whitecloaks are religious extremists, they showed little acceptance of the Dragon as the Creator’s surrogate and most showed little interest in the Last Battle at all, let alone feel it is imminent, until Galad took charge.

At death Masema’s soul falls into the void. It doesn’t sound like the Creator was impressed with him.

Friday, February 25, 2011

The Gathering Storm Read-Through #1: Prologue POVs 1-3

By Linda


The Gathering Storm begins with:

Ravens and crows. Rats. Mists and clouds. Insects and corruption. Strange events and odd occurrences.
The ordinary twisted and strange. Wonders!
The dead are beginning to walk, and some see them. Others do not, but more and more, we all fear the night.
These have been our days. They rain upon us beneath a dead sky, crushing us with their fury, until as one we beg: "Let it begin!"

—Journal of the Unknown Scholar, entry for The Feast of Freia, 1000 NE

Written contemporaneously with current events, the extract describes the chaos of the Last Days. So far we have not seen evidence of the night being worse than the day. But then we have seen little of what Lanfear (who particularly made people fear the night in the Age of Legends) and Moghedien have been doing.

The passage ties in with the prophecy:

The tides of men run out, and the hours dwindle. The wall is pierced, and the veil of parting raised. Storms rumble beyond the horizon, and the fires of heaven purge the earth. There is no salvation without destruction, no hope this side of death."

- The Fires Of Heaven, Opening prophecy

The veil of parting being raised refers to the dead walking. To save the world Rand and his aides either cause destruction, or cannot prevent it; plus many, including Rand will die. The disorder in the Land engendered by the Shadow damages the Wheel. With the Wheel damaged it is hard to keep order in the Land and the Pattern – a vicious cycle.

The Wheel of Time world is based on “As above, so below” and therefore overturning proper world order and imposing Wrongness will destabilise the Pattern making the world. Prophecy (and omens too) “works” in this world because the whole, the Pattern, can be read in even the smallest part. But not if the Pattern is disturbed. Warp things enough and ultimately the Pattern and the Wheel can be broken. At the least, by engendering chaos people can be prevented from reading Tel’aran’rhiod, dreams and omens to learn what is soon to happen.

Freia refers to the Norse goddess of love, fertility, war, death, magic, prophecy, and wealth Freyja, a parallel of Tuon, who is also Empress, a justice/order/fortune goddess and queen of the Underworld (see Tuon essay).

The Borderlander POV begins with black and silver clouds and these have been seen before: in the local area around Thakan’dar, but now they are moving out over the Land. It’s an indication that the Dark One’s sphere of influence is spreading. Soon his touch will be as great as it was when the Bore was open.

These silver clouds are not the sort to have a silver lining. Their silver appearance was likened to steel:

And what to make of silver clouds? Bulging between the black ones, like places where polished steel shone through metal crusted with soot.

The Gathering Storm Prologue

The clouds are burnished or brandished like weapons and show the Land under threat. The Dark One has used weather/climate as a weapon before when he tried to hold the Land in summer.

The clouds let through silver light instead of the golden light of the Sun. A reference to moonlight; it reminds me of Lanfear’s moon associations. It also shows the anti-naturalness of the Dark One opposing the Creator/Nature.

Renald the farmer and some-time smith sacrificed his best scythe to make a weapon. It was hard to do:

At the tool wall, he reached for his third-best scythe, but stopped. Taking a deep breath, he took the best scythe off the wall instead. He walked back out to the forge and knocked the haft off the scythe.

The Gathering Storm Prologue

He is aware of why they need to convert tools to weapons and go to fight:

“How can we just go off?"
"Because," Renald said, "if we don't leave, then it won't matter if we planted or not."

The Gathering Storm Prologue

In Aiel society blacksmith’s don’t fight; they are too valuable because they provide weapons and tools for the clan. The unnaturalness and wrongness of the Dark One is ensuring that nothing will grow, and so the growers must also fight for the health of the Land. It’s time to make weapons instead of growing things. The people could all starve, but if they don’t fight they will all die anyway.

Humble people are the first to react and go north to confront the end fighting. They accept that it is the end – the Last Days. (Likewise there are signs in Towers of Midnight that other animals as well as the wolves look/move to the north.) Their dedication and courage contrasts with the reckless actions and ambitions of nobles. Narishma, who is a skilled fighter and yet of humble origins, expands on this later in the book:

"A Borderlander's place is guarding the Border," Narishma said. "I was a cobbler's son, and yet I was trained with the sword, spear, bow, axe and sling. Even before joining the Asha'man, I could best four out of five trained southern soldiers in a duel. We live to defend. And yet they left. Now, of all times. With thirteen Aes Sedai." He glanced at her with those dark eyes of his. "I want to trust them. I know them for good people. But good people can do the wrong thing. Particularly when men who can channel are involved."

- The Gathering Storm, Scents Unknown

The rulers’ and their armies’ absence from the Borderlands is convenient for the Shadow. Darkfriends among their advisors may have encouraged the rulers to take more forces than they should have. RJ said on his blog that this was a plot of Shadow:

The Forsaken are a group of power hungry people who don't like one another and vie with one another for power as much as they vie with the forces of the Light. Much like the internal politicking in Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union. But look at the situation in the world as it actually stands, from the White Tower divided to crop failures caused by a too-long winter and a too-long summer and people fleeing their farms because the Dragon Reborn has broken all bonds, meaning still less food, and that spoiling at a fearsome rate, from chaos in Arad Doman to a large part of the Borderland armies out of position, from the arrival of the Seanchan focusing too many eyes on them instead of the Shadow to the strongest single nation, Andor, riven by civil war in all but name and Tear split by open warfare, from.... Well, take your pick. There are lots more to chose from. Take a step back and look at what the forces of the Shadow have wrought. The world and the forces of the Light are in bad shape. At this point, boys and girls, the Shadow is winning.

Paitar’s aim was to test Rand and if he didn’t measure up, kill him. Yet Rand said if he didn’t have the memories he gained from his epiphany, he would have balefired them with the True Power (which he appears to know how to weave).

Ethenielle said they had all left enough forces unless Trolloc Wars come again…Yet Moridin is planning worse than that. At the end of the Eye of the World Ishamael told Rand that massive armies would come:

Armies you have not dreamed of will yet come.

- The Eye of the World, Against the Shadow

He wasn’t lying.

Obviously the forces that remain won’t be enough and we see that in Towers of Midnight, with large areas of the Borderlander nations except the city of Maradon overrun. Lan’s force of 14 thousand in Tarwin’s Gap is pitiful against over a hundred thousand Trollocs. However, they have to make a stand, because, as Fel said:

“Belief and order give strength.”

- Lord of Chaos, Thorns

and thus lessen the Dark One’s influence. Let’s hope the Pattern comes through in time for them.

The smith Thulin has taken a leadership role and is encouraging others to aid the army in the north. Smiths are very important in pre-modern societies because they make the weapons and tools everyone needs for survival. And that what it’s all about now: survival. It’s interesting that Renald too knows smithing.

The smiths move first, but the wolves wait until Rand’s epiphany and the assurance that there will be a Last Battle. This POV looks to Perrin’s role in the next two books which is of leadership, creating a weapon and accepting that he will be taking others into danger (for a discussion of his roles and parallels, see Perrin essay). Among the animals, the wolves seem to be leading the way. Perrin as blacksmith and wolf king is thus the epitome of a leader in the Last Days.

Smiths are associated with the sky in many mythologies (eg Slavic) and with volcanoes (Ancient Greek). Volcanic eruptions can be associated with severe thunderstorms. Renald hammers as loud as the thunder, a piece of the storm. The smiths in the Prologue have responded to abnormal skies sooner than others. Perrin will stand on the volcano Dragonmount in Tel’ran’rhiod and witness Rand’s epiphany. The wolves with him will rejoice the Last Battle is on and spread the word. In A Memory of Light I predict that the twin volcanoes of Shayol Ghul and Dragonmount will erupt.

Renwar and Thulin have not been seen again in the books, so far.

Next we have two Seanchan POV’s and they complement each other.

Falendre’s POV links back to Knife of Dreams A Plain Wooden Box - which would have benefited from another POV besides Rand’s - and it also looks forward to Tuon’s meeting with Rand.

Cadsuane sent Nynaeve to urge Rand to leave soon. Merise refuses to be commanded by Rand. Nynaeve talks to him as though he had no rank. With three marath’damane not subordinate to Rand, it is no wonder Falendre fears a plot. She sees these marath’damane as manipulating him, even controlling him. Certainly anyone interrogating her will get that impression. Falendre is suspicious of Rand’s actions, even his gift of horses; they could be a scheme.

Falendre intends to deliver Rand’s message to Tuon that he still desires a meeting, that there must be peace between him and the Seanchan, that he will be in Arad Doman to quell the fighting as a sign of good faith, and that Anath was Semirhage – eventually. She thinks it will be difficult to get the opportunity to report to Tuon anyway.

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

It is very telling that Falendre keeps looking Rand in the eye, when even long time Seanchan colleagues don’t once one of them is promoted to the Low Blood. She recognises Rand’s rank, is dismayed he was insulted by the marath’damane, yet she meets his eyes.

He’s just a male marath’damane - or worse.

Tuon is a lot like Elaida in her attitude to the Dragon Reborn and these false impressions that the Aes Sedai are controlling Rand will make her all the more eager to destroy the Tower. If the Aes Sedai control Rand, they simply must be destroyed as soon as possible. Then she will move on Rand. It is no use moving on Rand until his controllers are defeated. Tylee, who has the second Seanchan POV in the Prologue, also influences Tuon’s decisions.

When Tuon and Rand do meet she just wants him under tight control and instigates the raid on the White Tower.

I liked the imagery of Rand’s eyes being caverns of ice:

For a moment, his eyes were even colder. Not harder. That would have been impossible. But for that long moment, they seemed to hold caverns of ice.

- The Gathering Storm, Prologue

contrasting with the caverns of fire in Ishamael’s eyes and mouth in his previous body, but found “medical aid” to grate as a WOT anachronism.

Tylee's POV shows that she respects and is fond of Perrin. It is two weeks since Malden and she is one day’s march out of Ebou Dar. She knows she has been made one of the blood as Galgan commanded. She doesn’t know what is going on in the world but knows that Perrin does: the dead appearing, the Dark One’s warping of reality. Mishima’s assessment of Perrin as too focused, too driven, but otherwise a good commander is quite accurate.

Most unusually for a Seanchan Tylee wants to ally with the mainlanders rather than conquer them:

We can't afford to be fighting these people, she thought. It was a rebellious thought, one she wouldn't speak to Mishima. She didn't dare ponder it. The Empress, might she live forever, had ordered that this land be reclaimed...
None of them would listen to suggestions that they should be looking for allies among the people of this land, rather than enemies. Thinking about it was close to treason. Insubordination, at least. She sighed and turned to Mishima, prepared to give the order to begin scouting for a place to camp for the night.
She froze. Mishima had an arrow through his neck, a wicked, barbed thing.

- The Gathering Storm, Prologue

Mishima’s first name of Bakayar means ‘fool!’ in Japanese. He was a fool not to believe Trollocs a danger. Tylee may be a ‘fool’ to rebel against Seanchan policy – which she did in The Gathering Storm, Gambits, openly telling Tuon her opinions that they should ally with Rand’s forces against the Shadow and put the Return aside. The Seanchan are fools for prosecuting the wrong war.

Mishima’s death in the Trolloc attack spurs Tylee to question even more. She realises Trollocs are worse than Aes Sedai, Aiel, etc, and are as horrible as Perrin said. What a price to pay to find out though! The Seanchan are fiddling around with the Return, when the real enemy is the Shadow.

Where did the hundreds of Trollocs near Ebou Dar come from? They are far too late to be after Rand or to rescue Semirhage; he’s been moving around a lot in these two weeks. Tuon arrived back in Ebou Dar the same day Tylee was attacked. Perhaps the Trollocs were aimed at Tuon. Note that Tylee did not see a Myrddraal, only Trollocs.

Tylee’s POV looks forward to her report to Tuon in The Gathering Storm Gambits, where her boldly expressed opinion spurs Tuon to delay the attack on the White Tower until after meeting Rand. Tuon resolves to question Tylee thoroughly. Tylee’s views will inevitably colour her report to her superiors in small ways even if she manages to hold back most of her opinions. And their inevitable misinterpretation of events will only fuel her frustration.

Tylee’s sighting of the omen of two dead rats before the Shadowspawn attack:

Earlier today, she'd seen two dead rats lying on their backs, one with a tail in the mouth of the other. It was the worst omen she'd ever seen in her life, and it still chilled her to think of it.

- The Gathering Storm, Prologue

What Tylee saw is something similar to a rat king, which is when rats are joined by their tails fusing or knotting together. It was regarded as an evil omen in earlier times. Tylee thought the two rats the worst omen she’s ever seen, and indeed she suffered heavy casualties, including Mishima, and nearly died herself.

Rats are the Dark One’s spies, and a rat with the tail of another in its mouth might be a reference to the situation of the Seanchan and the mainland forces fighting each other being a plot of the Shadow. On a more personal level, it warns of the danger Tylee and Mishima will be in from the Shadow.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

New Theory Posted

By Linda

I’ve decided to start a new section in Theory Corner on general predictions for the last book, A Memory of Light. (Although I guess almost every theory now looks to the final book for its resolution.)

First up are the ideas of a poster named sign - A Persective on AMOL. It contains spoilers for Towers of Midnight.

I’m busy right now with preparations for JordanCon (in Atlanta in April) and then WorldCon 2011 (August in Reno), but later this year I will post my own predictions.

For those who’d like to have their predictions posted on the blog in this way, or any other interesting and well-supported theory, please write them up in either dot point memo style or as a formal theory (as sign’s is) and send them to me in a message on The Thirteenth Depository Forums. Please also feel free to try out your ideas first on the Forums. The more discussion and editing, the better a theory is!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Analysis of Minor Characters #10: Leane

By Linda

Leane is

as tall as most men, willowy and graceful, still beautiful, with coppery skin and short, dark hair.

The Great Hunt, Summoned

She is one of the more interesting Aes Sedai because she chose the wrong Ajah. Brought up to use feminine seductive skills to succeed in life, she was self-conscious about her height and abandoned her efforts once she found out she could channel. It’s an excellent example of how many people feel about their characteristics which deviate from an “ideal norm” and what influence this can have on their lives.

Taken to the Tower between 15 and 18 years old to a society which is the antithesis of Domani cultural ways, she had the wrong “finishing off”. Leane fooled herself as well as others. She had suppressed any interest in or attraction for men so the Green Ajah did not see her as a potential candidate. The Blues would always encourage any strong channellers to join them. They have the reputation of being ambitious and ruthless.

Leane explains how it came to be:

"Domani women don't deserve the whole reputation they have-stiff-necked prigs going by hearsay built most of it-but we have earned some. My mother and my aunts taught me along with my sisters and cousins, of course."
Looking down at herself, she shook her head, then returned to her ministrations with a sigh. "But I fear I was as tall as I am today on my fourteenth naming day. All knees and elbows, like a colt that grew too fast. And not long after I could walk across a room without tripping twice, I learned-" She drew a deep breath. "-learned my life would take me another way than being a merchant.”

The Fires of Heaven Fanning the Sparks

It is revealing that soon after Leane is introduced she shows quite a bit of interest in Perrin and Rand, two tall young men:

Leane looked Rand over with a slight smile. Despite the smile, her voice had a snap to it. "What have you brought the Amyrlin Seat today, Lan Gaidin? A young lion? Better you don't let any Greens see this one, or one of them will bond him before he can take a breath. Greens like to bond them young."

The Great Hunt, The Dragon Reborn

[Perrin] was still standing there beside Mat's bed when the door opened and Leane came in. She stopped, put her fists on her hips, and looked him slowly up and down. She was nearly as tall as he was.
"Now you," she said, in tones quiet yet brisk, "are almost a pretty enough boy to make me wish I was a Green. Almost. But if you've disturbed my patient...well, I dealt with brothers almost as big as you before I went to the Tower, so you needn't think those shoulders will help you any."...
He tried to slide around her to the door, but suddenly her hands shot out and grabbed his face, tilting it down so she could peer into his eyes. Something seemed to pass through him, a warm ripple that started at the top of his head and went to his feet, then came back again. He pulled his head out of her hands.
"You're as healthy as a young wild animal," she said, pursing her lips. "But if you were born with those eyes, I am a Whitecloak."
"They're the only eyes I ever had," he growled. He felt a little abashed, speaking to an Aes Sedai in that tone, but he was as surprised as she when he took her gently by the arms and lifted her to one side, setting her down again out of his way. As they stared at each other, he wondered if his eyes were as wide with shock as hers. "Excuse me," he said again, and all but ran.

The Great Hunt, Blood Calls Blood

And it’s even more revealing that both of them made her think of the Green Ajah. Perrin, at least, seems to show some return attraction. Once Leane learned who Rand is, she was repelled if anything:

The Keeper shuddered openly at the mention of Rand’s name.

The Shadow Rising, Deceptions

And this was before she paid a high price for being involved in schemes surrounding him.

Leane worked admirably with Siuan for years. We see them in partnership in the Tower, then manipulating Logain and Min and then the rebel Aes Sedai , then finally being reined in by Egwene to become her supporters. Siuan’s only complaint was that Leane revered the office of Amyrlin Seat enough to embrace the ceremony surrounding it:

though Siuan had known her since they were novices together, sometimes Leane’s insistence on upholding the dignity of the Amyrlin Seat was enough to make Siuan want to scream.

The Dragon Reborn, The Amyrlin Seat

And with the ceremony of the Amyrlin Seat, also that of her own position. Perhaps this shows her low self-esteem.

She rarely showed disagreement with Siuan’s commands; one notable example being Egwene’s and Elayne’s raising to Accepted, when she let her body language express her objections.

Even Siuan’s command that the sisters who were to re-capture Taim should still him on the spot rather than bring him to the Tower for trial – which was a command to break Tower law - was accepted by Leane:

"And Leane . . . Mazrim Taim is to be gentled as soon as he is taken again.”
Leane’s eyes opened wide with shock. “The law.”
“I know the law as well as you, but I will not risk having him freed again ungentled. I’ll not risk another Guaire Amalasan, not on top of everything else.”
“Yes, Mother,” Leane said faintly.

The Shadow Rising, Deceptions

This probably says more about Siuan’s commanding nature – and the dangerous times – than as it does about Leane’s docility.

Siuan said a couple of times that if Leane knew that she and Moiraine were letting the Dragon Reborn run free she would turn them in for trial:

"Moiraine, if anyone, even Leane, discovers what we plan, we will both be stilled."

The Great Hunt, Summoned

Yet when Leane became collateral damage in Elaida’s unravelling of Siuan’s and Moiraine’s scheme, and was stilled for it, she did not whine or rage at Siuan. She sacrificed so much when she didn’t really know what was going on until reports arrived at the Tower that Rand held Callandor and was therefore the Dragon Reborn, and accepted her fate with grace. Sheriam, in contrast, had far less to complain about and was far more spiteful. It shows the goodness of Leane’s character. She is like Birgitte who also received unjust treatment in a positive manner, and doesn’t hold grudges.

"Revenge falls short, for me. I know your cause is necessary, and perhaps even, right, but the Light help me, that is not enough either; I can't make myself be as involved as you. Maybe I came too late to it. I will stay with you, but it isn't enough."

The Fires of Heaven, Fanning the Sparks

Siuan showed defiance at being stilled before she was rescued, and focussed on her mission to promote and influence the Dragon Reborn and revenge herself on Elaida, whereas Leane needed urging for all these things. However, few characters would be as tough as Siuan (The Shadow Rising, The Truth of a Viewing). Min observes:

In a small way, a peculiar way surely, Leane had begun making a life for herself apart from concerns of power and the Power and Rand. Not that she had abandoned them entirely, but Min did not think there was anything else for Siuan.

The Fires of Heaven, Sallie Daera

Unlike Siuan who only had humiliation of not being recognised by the rebels, Leane was badly beaten in the Tower when they did not recognise her there either. It emphasises that Leane changed so much.

Leane seized the opportunity to change:

Leane, on the other hand, in true Aes Sedai fashion embraced what had changed. A young woman again— Egwene had overheard a Yellow exclaiming in wonder that both were prime childbearing age, by everything she could find—she might never have been Keeper, never have had any other face. The very image of practicality and efficiency became the ideal of an indolent and alluring Domani woman.

A Crown of Swords, A Pair of Silverpike

and not just in her appearance and personal style; although these became very important to her too. She stopped taking things so seriously:

Leane's laughter was quiet and breathy. Situations that grated Siuan's teeth usually amused her. She was cosseted by most of the other sisters for how well she had adjusted.

A Crown of Swords, A Pair of Silverpike

thus becoming increasingly un-Blue-like. Myrelle picked up very quickly that Leane would fit the Green Ajah:

"Myrelle was kind enough to find me and let me know," Leane said into the momentary silence. "I think I am going to choose Green."

Lord of Chaos, To Heal Again

This also emphasised to all that Siuan and Leane were not Aes Sedai for a while and what they are now has nothing (or as little as possible) to do with who they were before.

Ironically, it was Siuan who suggested that Leane’s charm techniques could also be adapted to use on women (The Fires of Heaven, The Practice of Diffidence), which they were to great effect, and may account for some of Leane’s popularity among Aes Sedai. Siuan and Leane were playing bad cop and god cop respectively among the rebels, roles that fitted their characters and thus were believable. Egwene describes them as being able to lie like wool merchants; Leane was trained to be a merchant by her family. This training was very precise and detailed in the arts of flirting:

How could you be intimidated by a woman who had told you in dead seriousness that there were one hundred and seven different kisses, and ninety-three ways to touch a man's face with your hand? Leane actually seemed to believe these things.

The Fires of Heaven, Sallie Daera

Egwene’s assessment of Leane is that Leane’s flirtation is done:

Not promiscuously, of course; she possessed discrimination and discretion in ample supply.

A Crown of Swords, A Pair of Silverpike

and she might be right, or just assuming that Leane is following her own social mores. It is telling that Leane’s first attempt at flirtation brought her more excitement than anything else in the series.

Leane showed interest in one of Bryne’s men as a possible Warder (A Crown of Swords, A Pair of Silverpike) but judging by her lack of thoughts about a Warder while she is captive during The Gathering Storm, she doesn’t have one yet.

Leane did some clever and original things:

Very few sisters were aware that Leane had eyes-and-ears inside Tar Valon itself. She might have been the only sister who did. It was a human failing to watch keenly what was happening down the street while ignoring what lay right at your feet, and the Light knew Aes Sedai had as many human failings as anyone else.

Crossroads of Twilight, A Chat With Siuan

“Clever Leane,” Egwene murmured. For an instant, she squeezed her eyes shut. Leane had prepared everything in advance, before coming in sight of the harbor, all inverted and her ability masked. If she herself had been as clever, she likely would have escaped cleanly.

Knife of Dreams, Prologue

In some interesting symbolism, the iron bars of Leane’s cell melted; Leane was being freed not just from Elaida, but also from the prison she created for herself.

"I know flirting isn't something to fill up the emptiness, but it is enough to fill an idle moment. Maybe being who I was born to be will suffice. I just do not know. This isn't a new idea; I always wanted to be like my mother and my aunts, daydreamed of it sometimes after I was grown."
Leane's face became pensive, and the last things went into the box more gently. "I think perhaps I've always felt I was masquerading as someone else, building up a mask until it became second nature. There was serious work to be done, more serious than merchanting, and by the time I realized there was another way I could have gone even so, I had the mask on too firmly to take off. Well, that is done with, now, and the mask is coming off.”

The Fires of Heaven, Fanning the Sparks

So like Siuan, Leane, who thought she was weaker after bring stilled, found that she was strong after all, strong enough to fight the Black Ajah in Tel’aran’rhiod, and strong enough to turn an entire harbour chain into cuendillar (if she had had a little more time). Being who you were born to be usually does suffice. Self-development is an important part of Freemasonry and Jordan was a Freemason (see Freemasonry article).

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Reference Library Updates after Towers of Midnight: Rand essay updated

By Linda

In an example of "the last will be first, and the first will be last", appropriate for someone who remembers being First Among the Servants (of All), my last essay to be updated for Towers of Midnight is on Rand. It has taken me quite a while; there was a lot to think about and write about, not least four new parallels.

Monday, February 14, 2011

My JordanCon 2011 costume

By Linda

This weekend I worked hard on my costume for JordanCon, which is why I'm only a third of the way through the Towers of Midnight updates to the Rand essay. The photo right is of the bodice, showing the gold embroidery around the neck and down the bodice. The dress is in silk in the Taraboner style and fully lined. My remaining tasks are to hem the skirt and the cuffs and to design and make a half-veil.

Then I'll turn to producing a few more goldwork samples to show at JordanCon and shopping for the metallic supplies. JordanCon is so soon: only 2 months away!

The Rand essay has 4 major new parallels and I hope to complete it on Wednesday or Thursday depending on my paid workload this week.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Reference Library Updates after Towers of Midnight: Aiel Prophecy article updated

By Linda

Today's updated article, on Aiel Prophecy, required a massive expansion. As well as new perspectives on the Prophecy of Rhuidean and the Wise Ones' dreams, it now includes a detailed discussion of Aviendha's visions in the glass columns. In my opinion they tie in closely to the Prophecy of Rhuidean. New material is in bold.

I have one essay remaining to be updated for Towers of Midnight: Rand's parallels. This will take me some time, since I have much new material to add.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Reference Library Updates after Towers of Midnight: Mat essay updated

By Linda

Today there is one large essay updated with information from Towers of Midnight: Mat, the second of the three ta'veren essays. There is plenty of new material (shown in bold) to expand on the parallels I found previously.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Reference Library Updates after Towers of Midnight:Horn of Valere article

By Linda

While working on updating the Mat essay, which should be posted on Monday, I realised there was some new information for the Horn of Valere article in Towers of Midnight. This has now been added in bold and includes Mat's intentions regarding the Horn and a new parallel for Birgitte which ties her closely to Mat. The article is a good reminder that the Horn will have a vital role in the last book.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Reference Library Updates after Towers of Midnight: Military Forces article

By Linda

The article on the The Military Forces of the Westlands was updated today with information from Towers of Midnight. Many changes in alliance and disposition of forces were made in Towers of Midnight. New material is in bold.