Monday, May 30, 2011

The Gathering Storm Read-Through #20: Chapter 17 - Questions of Control

By Linda


The chapter title refers to internal and external control. Semirhage controls herself and her captors despite their best efforts, until Cadsuane works out how she can be broken. Perrin worries about his self-control and leadership. He feels too inadequate to be a leader because if he can’t manage himself how can he be responsible for others?

Cadsuane POV

Cadsuane has performed remarkable deeds in her career. The Gathering Storm tells us that when she did these things her main motive was to become legendary. In previous books she did not foster or revel in her reputation, but took advantage of it when it helped her achieve a goal. Sanderson is more partisan toward the characters and Cadsuane is one who is portrayed more negatively. He has said he has never liked her. In this chapter Cadsuane compares herself with Semirhage and thinks they both nurture their images.

With a flash of insight, Cadsuane treated Semirhage as da’tsang. This is something which the Aiel didn’t suggest, yet Wise Ones know from experience how shame can break a person.

It is a measure of Semirhage’s shock that she began cursing in the Old Tongue when she was smacked; she would know that curses aren’t effective if they are not understood.

Semirhage is made to eat off the floor. Degradation and humiliation of a prisoner is common in the interrogation of an enemy captive. It probably occurs much sooner in a real world interrogation than it did here. The Nazis used it routinely for any they considered undesirable and the Forsaken have many parallels to Nazis (see Three Strands Common to the Forsaken essay) – eg Semirhage has parallels to just such Nazi camp commandants who did this (see Semirhage essay). Not that the Nazis were the only ones who did this before or since.

Perrin POV

Balwer is forcing administration on Perrin, especially paperwork. It looks like he is going to get a seal! Perrin is the last of the three ta’veren to do so: Rand has long had one and Mat has used his ring as a signet. It is a sign that Perrin is a leader even if he doesn’t fully accept it yet.

Perrin feels Rand pulling him north. Rand isn’t literally there yet; but Perrin is sensing Rand’s future need of him.

There are too many people with Perrin to be moved by Grady’s modest gateways. They probably don’t have enough food to reach Andor by road. Obviously bigger gateways are needed and they will soon work out how to make mixed circles to do this.

Perrin is aware he needs to find balance within and without. Despite his doubts he has done well balancing the various needs of those he is responsible for, as Tam says to Rand at the end of the book:

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

- The Gathering Storm, The One He Lost

He will do just as well internally, too, but that is a more private balancing act.

Perrin has to work out whether he wants to be a leader and what style of leader he should be. He realises what lack of leadership and temperance has done to his group. The sorry state the Shaido social structure was reduced is a warning in itself. Despite the difficult and uncertain conditions, Perrin’s group did not become lawless and destructive as the Shaido did, proof that Perrin is a much better leader than he is aware.

Perrin worries about being a berserker, of losing control of his emotions while fighting. He fears the wolf dream because he thinks running with the wolves is to blame. In this book Perrin and Rand are both forced to realise that the dark, violent side of themselves is truly them and not anyone else - not wolves, not mad Lews Therin.

Ironically it is a wolf that guides Perrin to this realisation and helps him gain control and balance within himself through his training in the wolf dream:

The trick, it seemed, was to be in complete control of who you were. Like many things in the wolf dream, the strength of one's mental image was more powerful than the substance of the world itself.

- Towers of Midnight, Oddities

The strength of this place, Hopper sent an image of a wolf carved of stone, is the strength of you. The wolf thought for a moment. Stand. Remain. Be you...But do not come too strongly.

- Towers of Midnight, The Strength of This Place

Self-control and restraint are as essential as strength. The themes of
strength and temperance are important in Perrin’s sub-thread. Perrin already has strength and fortitude, but Hopper teaches Perrin how to be more temperate as well as how to temper himself and his love for Faile gives him something to be temperate for.

The more Perrin masters Tel’aran’rhiod, the more he masters himself. Once he does that, the master craftsman feels qualified to master others.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

The Gathering Storm Read-Through #19: Chapter 16 - In the White Tower

By Linda


Egwene in novice white is serving White Ajah Servants of All, although she doesn’t realise one of them, Ferane, is Ajah Head as well as Sitter. Ferane was subtle enough that Egwene doubted her original judgement that her serving was a pretence and they wanted her there to question her. So... she was not serving the Whites in truth until she did them an unexpected service with the quality of her answers.

Aes Sedai now ignore Egwene’s disregard for the rules – which shows that the only discipline that would be effective would be execution or exile. Later in the chapter she is ‘exiled’ through hard labour.

What with the siege and the administrations’ mis-management and neglect of the city, Tar Valon is stinking now, which it never used to be; and no one remarks on the change, they just accept it.

Egwene says Elaida’s leadership and the Hall’s compliance have created the White Tower’s problems. Even if she renounced all claims in favour of Elaida they would still exist. She is trying to get all sisters to see that they are all responsible for the divisions. Egwene herself won’t sit by and do nothing about the division. She lets the Whites know how she has been working to reunite the Tower by making the most of the fact that novices can go anywhere – fateful words considering what Elaida and Katerine are planning.

Ferane, as Ajah Head, takes up Egwene’s points. Egwene will arrange for Sitters to meet together amicably in public. Ferane dismisses Egwene but the two women bow to each other as equals. She offers Egwene a place in the White Ajah despite Egwene making it plain she would have been Green. Bennae offered her a place in the Brown, and Suana wants her to join the Yellow. Yet her favoured Greens are uninterested in Egwene joining them. It is a sign that she would be of all Ajahs and none. If Egwene were weak in the Power I wonder if the Ajahs would be so interested in wooing her or accept that the rebels made her their Amyrlin. Of course, the rebels would never raised Egwene Amyrlin if she were weak. It really drives home how little rank is earned among Aes Sedai.

The presence of the Black Ajah makes a subtle appearance in this chapter. Miyasi’s preference for, and insistence on, consuming whole walnut halves, with their brain-like appearance, is made to seem sinister. She is later shown to be a Black sister (who also possibly has OCD.)

The red and charcoal tiles in Reds’ quarters are a sign that the infiltration of the Black is strong there. A higher percentage of the Red Ajah is Black compared to the other Ajahs (see The Black Ajah article).

For once the Black sister Katerine is not wearing the black slashed or dark clothing she usually wears and which is such a typical marker of Darkfriend Aes Sedai. Instead, her red dress is described as “a flash of red cloth, like the blood of a dead rabbit in the snow”, associating it and her with violence and death.

Most of the Aes Sedai, including Egwene, still assume the White Tower must control the Dragon in order for the Last Battle to ‘proceed’. They don’t seem to realise that the Tower has been largely irrelevant (though independent individual sisters have made important contributions) so far, yet the Last Battle is ‘proceeding’ apace - without their control or guidance.

Egwene thinks it is illogical to have a Red Amyrlin when the Dragon is around. However in over two thousand years the only time Red Amyrlins have been elected is when Dragons, false or real, are active; and they failed miserably each time. Talk about not learning from history. Ferane tells Egwene why they are raised: to deal with the Dragons. Egwene says the Aes Sedai should work with, not ‘deal with’, the Dragon.

One Aes Sedai attitude Egwene does agree with is that Rand should not have been left to run free, but she means he should not be left to make his own decisions. Elaida’s embassy should not have abused or kidnapped Rand. Aes Sedai should be subtle and manipulative.

Egwene recites the “Rand needs guidance” mantra. Rand already gets some – from those he trusts or have been shown to be trustworthy. Rand should have ‘relied’ on the advice of Aes Sedai according to Egwene. She thinks he shouldn’t be allowed to realise the Aes Sedai think he is behaving like an unruly child when/if he does. Cadsuane is more direct and leaves Rand in no doubt of her opinion of his childish behaviour, when he disregards courtesies, flies into a rage, breaks bargains, etc.

For Aes Sedai, the major bugbear of Rand’s actions is the bonding of Aes Sedai by Asha’man. (Though some Whites, eg Tesan, still didn’t know of it. Miyasi knew because the Black Ajah were ordered to spread the news to undermine Elaida and fracture the Tower further.) If Aes Sedai had not been captured by Asha’man Egwene would have much less justification for ‘managing’ Rand. Nevertheless Egwene insists dealing with or managing Rand has to wait until the Tower is reunited.

Ferane’s first question is a challenge to Egwene to put her money where her mouth is and show how she would have done better than Elaida in handling Rand. After all, it’s easy to criticise, but harder to propose a viable alternative. Egwene would study him, then send three Aes Sedai (Grey, Green and Blue) to honour him. This is the standard embassy to kings, nothing more. As Egwene says it is modest and not lavish considering who Rand is. Nor is it threatening.

Katerine and Elaida are going to limit Egwene’s access to sisters by making her do only chores 15 hours per day. Egwene cuts short Katerine’s gloating by walking off to kitchens. Inside she starts to panic though. She considers pretending to be humbled, but realises such and act will be taken as victory anyway. Thereafter Elaida would use the same method to force Egwene to adopt any behaviour. It would be the thin edge of the wedge so she decides not to bend at all.

Laras sneaks up to Egwene and takes her to a secret hiding place to wait for garbage collection. She has arranged for Egwene to be taken across the river and has friends among the guard. It appears Laras has gotten misfit novices and Accepted out before; she is confident she can bluff Egwene’s captors and that they won’t find her hidey hole. Her motivation this time is disgust at the attempts to break Egwene:

I've served loyally these years, I have, but now they've told me that you're to be worked as hard as I can push you, indefinitely. Well, I can see when a girl has moved away from being instructed and into being beaten down. I won't have it, not in my kitchens. Light burn Elaida for thinking she could do such a thing! Execute you or make you a novice, I don't care. But this breaking is unacceptable!"

The Gathering Storm, In the White Tower

Egwene is exasperated that she is stuck doing menial labour when the Dragon Reborn ‘runs free’ and the Last Battle is approaching. She refuses to take Laras’ offer of flight and stays to fight Elaida by refusing to bend.

After one session of work Elaida changes her mind and summons Egwene to serve in her rooms because she wants to exhibit Egwene as a trophy to Sitters. Katerine disagrees with Elaida’s decision. She is a better tactician or judge of character.

Egwene plays Cinderella in the kitchens and Elaida’s quarters and there’s no doubt who the ugly stepmother is... She questions Elaida on her tactics for Rand and proves with quotes from the prophecies to Elaida’s guests, but not, unfortunately, Elaida herself, that Elaida’s plan would be a failure. However all Aes Sedai have wanted to follow this plan (or a variation of it) including Siuan and Moiraine. Elaida says in reply:

"Bah," Elaida said, "you ask meaningless questions. The prophecies would have to have been fulfilled. There was no other way."

- The Gathering Storm, In The White Tower

Elaida sees no other tactics as viable and believes that somehow the prophecies would have been fulfilled anyway. This sounds like what Taim said to Rand (and note that Taim has a similar attitude to massaging history as Elaida does):

All I had to do was fulfill just one of the Prophecies."
"Like managing to be born on the slopes of Dragonmount?" Rand said coldly. "That was the first Prophecy to be met."…
"Victors write history. Had I taken the Stone of Tear, history would have shown I was born on Dragonmount, of a woman never touched by a man, and the heavens opened up in radiance to herald my coming.”

Lord of Chaos, A New Arrival

That is why Rand never came to the Tower and why Siuan and Elaida were deposed and the Tower broken. To fulfil the prophecies.

Elaida’s idea was to show Egwene as a servant in front of the Sitters. So little regard do the Servants of All have for service, that, for some at least, to be a servant to the Servants is to be demeaned. In fact Elaida dismisses Egwene’s quote of an Amyrlin saying the Amyrlin serves all as nonsense. Her tactic shows Elaida knew who Egwene was influencing.

Elaida was not under Alviarin’s or the Black Ajah’s influence here. No Blacks were even present. Her arrogance leads Elaida to promote the divisive attitude and decrees the Blacks began.

Egwene has to speak up to Elaida to prove her courage and determination. She then provokes Elaida by saying she is too cowardly to answer her question of what is Elaida doing to heal the rift in the Tower. Elaida is going to condemn Egwene without trial or charges.

Elaida is quite a violent woman. Here she uses the One Power to force others to do what she wants. Strength in the One Power is the only power or authority Elaida recognises; she has taken the Aes Sedai ranking to its logical extreme. This is an excellent example of why this ranking is not a good idea. Elaida can beat Egwene senseless with the One Power (despite her Oath not to use the Power as a weapon and the law against using the Power to abuse an initiate of the Tower) because she believes she is Tower Law ie as Amyrlin she can do what she wants. She warns the Sitters to take her abuse of Egwene as an example of what she will do to them if they don’t show true deference and obedience to her. Not good tactics; it is now very much in the Sitters’ interests to unite against Elaida. Even Tower staff think Elaida’s behaviour is unacceptable.

Egwene says she follows the spirit of the Three Oaths, whereas Aes Sedai are forced by the Oaths to follow the letter of them. It is what the Wise Ones like about Egwene and find objectionable about the Aes Sedai.


The White Sitter (and Ajah Head)’s room is on the third level of the White Tower. The World of Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time says the lower half of the White Tower is for communal rooms, the upper half for Ajah accommodation:

Slightly wider at the base than at the top, the Tower was designed to house the Ajahs in the top half; each within its own pie-shaped section, while leaving the wider bottom to general purposes.

Also in The World of Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time Balladare is listed as the first Brown Amyrlin of the New Era, not the first Brown of all Amyrlins as Egwene stated.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Post #29 of Wheel of Time Costume

By Linda

In this post of the Wheel of Time costume series I look at the fashions of the distant past in the Third Age in the form of what Aes Sedai ghosts "wore" in Knife of Dreams. This is the final post of this very long-running series. I hope you have enjoyed it.

How appropriate to end on a prime number (29), since primes feature a lot in Jordan's number symbolism.

For the full Costume article from the beginning click here.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

The Gathering Storm Read-Through #18: Chapter 15 - A Place to Begin, Part 2

By Linda



Min is reading Fel’s history books; in particular, Pelateo’s Ponderings which would be a reference to the Ancient Greek philosopher Plato’s writings. I’ve summarised a few relevant works of Plato here. The first few detail the last days of the Greek philosopher Socrates, who was executed for not believing in the state gods, but in “other daimons that are novel”, and for corrupting the young. Plato wrote a version of the speech Socrates gave when he unsuccessfully defended himself against these charges as The Apology of Socrates. Ishamael is a philosopher who rejected the Creator of the Pattern and followed the Dark One. He has corrupted many with his words, action and channelling. Some of the population have ambivalent feelings about the Dragon, claiming he is as bad as the Dark One, but extremists such as Elaida regard male channellers as “unbelievers” (see Aes Sedai Attitudes to Male Channellers: The Unbeliever).

In the dialogue Euthyphro, Socrates and the self-proclaimed religious expert Euthyphro attempt to define piety. Euthyphro claims that the Socrates had charges brought against him because he claimed that a daimon (god) or divine sign indicated to him courses of action to follow. Rand himself is a divine sign to the pious and he and Min are studying the prophecies to work out what course of action Rand should follow against the demonic Dark One.

Crito is a dialogue between Socrates and his wealthy friend Crito on justice and injustice. Socrates rejects Crito’s offer to help him escape from prison even though his sentence is unjust because that would also be unjust and two wrongs don’t make a right. Crito tells Socrates that he is impressed with how calmly Socrates accepts his approaching death sentence. In The Gathering Storm, Rand became increasingly dark about his prophesied death and contemplated destroying everything, but had a change of heart and in Towers of Midnight appears to accept his sacrifice calmly.

In the dialogue Phaedo, Socrates discusses the nature of the afterlife and the nature of the soul before being executed the next day by drinking hemlock (a parallel of crimsonthorn used by the Black Ajah to kill Adeleas and Ispan, perhaps at Moridin’s orders). One of Socrates’ arguments for the immortality of the soul is that people have in-born knowledge, which implies the soul existed before birth and brought this knowledge.

In Timaeus Plato discusses the nature of the physical world, the eternal world, and human beings. Crucial to the outcome of the battle against the Dark One is the nature of the Pattern and the role of the If worlds, the parallel worlds and Tel’aran’rhiod.

In Critias, Plato tells of how the island kingdom Atlantis failed in its attempt to conquer Athens, because the Athenians were too ordered and strong a society. Plato wrote that the gods divided the Earth among themselves and each tended the humans in their regions like livestock or possessions, although using persuasion rather than force.

Currently there are two invasions that may succeed if the mainland society is too disordered: that of the Shadow and that of the Seanchan. As Fel said: “Belief and order give strength” so if the nations don’t have this they are doomed. The Seanchan enslave female channellers and those who rebel or commit crimes. The Shadow uses people ruthlessly and with force.

Plato’s Laws discusses the interaction between divine revelation, laws and rights. These are questions at the heart of the series.

(It is a moot point whether Min is literally reading any of these writings, and if so how much they have changed over the Ages, or whether she is reading some other works now ascribed to an author whose name is similar to Plato. The allusion to Plato is meant to remind those readers who are familiar with Plato’s works of the applicability of Plato’s writings to the situation here.)

Min is reading Fel’s books because she thinks they hold answers to the Last Battle and the Seals on the Dark One’s prison. She thinks she might be thinking along the same lines as Fel – but it is not good news and she wonders how Rand will react. He’s fine with it, and so is Perrin, but many others, notably Egwene, will not be. Min realises that when Fel wrote that Rand has to clear the rubble before he can build he meant that Rand would have to destroy the Seals to open the Bore. Rand agrees, and says the others (almost everyone else, it seems) won’t like it, due to the danger. Min sees vague clues in the prophecies and the history books about how to stop or contain the Dark One. Rand is determined to kill the Dark One or at least seal him away long term (for longer than Lews Therin did.)

Min persuades Rand to open up to her. She is very intelligent and has excellent judgement and people skills. However she panics when Rand’s life is at stake, such as when she saw in Lord of Chaos that Aes Sedai would hurt Rand (Min's Viewings).

Min understands Rand’s mental illness probably better than he does:

Light! He let the voice in his head wield the One Power? What did that mean? That he let the mad part of his brain take control?...
Was this how it happened to all of them? Each one assuming that they were really sane, and that it was the other person inside of them who did horrible things?

The Gathering Storm, A Place to Begin

As we shall see later in The Gathering Storm, this is exactly how it happens. Rand has been able to claim that he won’t do the mad, evil things that Lews Therin did, no matter what the prophecies appear to say, until his attempt to kill his own father forces him to realise otherwise.

Rand thinks Lews Therin is a separate soul from him; Min that Lews Therin is a memory of a past life. Semirhage told Rand that Lews Therin is a hallucination, a psychosis. Rand thinks he can’t be because Rand is not insane and won’t be a Kinslayer. It is the shock that he could be a kinslayer that drives him first to contemplate genocide and then to destroy the world, until he is able to fight off his despair on Dragonmount – the axis mundi that is Rand’s and Lews Therin’s death and birth place - and apparently reintegrate the personalities.

Rand admits the possibility that Min is right about Lews Therin:

Lews Therin knows things. Or ... or / know things. Whichever it is, the knowledge is there.

The Gathering Storm, A Place to Begin

Rand seems a bit softer here thanks to Min, a respite from the harshness he displays all through The Gathering Storm.

Aviendha POV

Amys tries to upset or anger Aviendha by shaming her with pointing out her punishment, and thus get her to make a stand. It doesn’t work; so Amys hints that it is Aviendha’s duty to think about what she hasn’t done. By this stage I was getting as impatient with Aviendha as the Wise Ones were.

Aviendha looks down on Flinn because he volunteered to learn to channel before the taint was cleansed.

The Aiel are angry about treating with the Seanchan. They think Rand is pandering to them when he should be fighting them. It is a pointer to how the Aiel will react to Aviendha’s news of her visions of the future in Rhuidean and gives background to Aviendha’s opinion that the Aiel should return to the Waste after the Last Battle and live according to their traditions. Aviendha agrees with Rand’s actions that the battle against the Shadow takes precedence. The Shadow is trying to distract people from the Last Battle by setting up invasions, civil wars, and chaos. The Aiel have selected the most palatable parts of their prophecies and expect Rand to lead them to glory – demand it almost - rather than battling the Shadow with him and being broken by him. He has broken the Aiel some, but not enough yet ( see The Aiel Need to Adopt the Way of the Leaf Before the Last Battle theory).

The Seanchan’s collaring of Aiel as damane have the Aiel in a fury. By custom, Wise Ones cannot be made gai’shain. Of course, they never fought in battle either, until Dumai’s Wells. Amys says they will be avenged after the Last Battle. The unity of the Aiel and their obedience to Rand is being undermined. It is an obvious strategy for the Shadow to take. Are Aiel Darkfriends, especially Wise Ones, promoting this? I fear this will be worse after Aviendha’s news, with more open objection and debate.

Monday, May 16, 2011

The Gathering Storm Read-Through #17: Chapter 15 - A Place to Begin, Part 1

By Linda


There's a lot in this chapter, so I've split my discussion into 2 parts and will post Part 2 later in the week when I've had time to edit it.

Rand POV

Rand comes to in Tel’aran’rhiod in a place he’s met Ishamael twice before - in The Eye of the World The Stag and Lion, and The Eye of the World Against the Shadow. The story arc comes full circle, and this time he is not afraid. However, he nearly loses himself in the dream. The Wise Ones don’t speak of Tel’aran’rhiod much to Rand, and Lews Therin isn’t prominent in Tel’aran’rhiod either, so he’s more or less on his own there.

As the striated sky and boiling, burning red clouds indicate, this is a special part of Tel’aran’rhiod strongly under the influence of the Dark One and probably near Shayol Ghul. Clouds of tortured faces and the molten lava look to the stones are new, as are the rats being burned by the heat in the stones and the flames depicting tortured bodies.So typically of anything made by the Shadow, the fire holds cold comfort.

Rand has no visions when he thinks of Mat and Perrin in Tel’aran’rhiod; they only appear in the main waking world. Perrin had none of Rand either in the dream, nor did Mat in the *Finns’ world in Towers of Midnight.

Rand’s link to Moridin is more close, more physical, than his links to Mat and Perrin. It is more limiting too, which is why their channelling is affected. Mat and Perrin are not limited by their link to Rand. The three ta’verens’ fates are intertwined, and they are connected by bonds of friendship, as well as by this spiritual link.

Lews Therin did not react to the mention of his kinslaying. In this part of the dream Rand appears to be more integrated:

Oddly, Rand felt more stable—somehow—here in this place where all else appeared fluid. The pieces of himself fit together better. Not perfectly, of course, but better than they had in recent memory.

- The Gathering Storm, A Place to Begin

and also less influenced by his various links.

Rand recognises Ishamael’s soul, but Moridin seems to reject being Ishamael and identifies himself to Rand. Rand thinks his name (Death) is irrelevant. Wrong. Just as he did when he was Ishamael, Moridin tells Rand that many dreams are more real than the waking world. This is a somewhat “Platonic” philosophy and ties in with the book Min is reading during this scene as we shall see in the next post. I’m not sure Rand accepts Moridin’s statement.

Rand sees the saa in Moridin’s eyes but doesn’t appear to know their significance. He is not interested in Moridin’s offer of sanity, which would mean being touched by the True Power.

Moridin tells Rand he and other Forsaken were restored to life by the Dark One – except those that were balefired. Presumably he wants to use Rand as an instrument of punishment and to vanquish his rivals. It’s less risky for Moridin to get someone else to do it; someone the Pattern is taking pains to keep alive, and someone the Dark One would accept as killer of his henchmen. And if Rand is killed instead or as well, that’s not too bad either.

Moridin says it is a wonder the balefired can be remembered. But that is the point: balefire undoes actions, but can’t undo the fact that actions were done or erase the memories of those actions. If balefire could undo events completely seamlessly, perhaps it wouldn’t disrupt the Pattern as much as it does. As the paradox goes: if a tree falls and nobody witnesses it, did it happen?

Moridin is suffering from the link to Rand – he is over whelmed by tiredness, physical and psychological, and perhaps pain. Certainly despair. Rand is better in comparison, or perhaps bears it better due to his accepting character, whereas Moridin is selfish and has not had practise in bearing adversity. Again, while Rand is used to being very close to people yet not being overwhelmed by that closeness, Moridin can’t seem to separate his feelings from Rand’s.

The two champions have both been reborn: Rand naturally, Moridin unnaturally, as reflects their respective deities. Rand assures us that they will have a final duel. Moridin is not certain what the outcome would be if he and Rand killed each other – as Arthur (parallel of Rand) and Modred did and as the Norse gods and giants did at Ragnarok (a parallel of the Last Battle).

Rand is determined to defeat the Dark One. Moridin thinks the attempt is pointless long-term:

"Perhaps you will," he said. "But do you think that matters? Consider it. The Wheel turns, time and time again. Over and over the Ages turn, and men fight the Great Lord. But someday, he will win, and when he does, the Wheel will stop.
"That is why his victory is assured. I think it will be this Age, but if not, then in another. When you are victorious, it only leads to another battle. When he is victorious, all things will end. Can you not see that there is no hope for you?"
"Is that what made you turn to his side?" Rand asked. "You were always so full of thoughts, Elan. Your logic destroyed you, didn't it?"
"There is no path to victory," Moridin said. "The only path is to follow the Great Lord and rule for a time before all things end. The others are fools. They look for grand rewards in the eternities, but there will be no eternities. Only the now, the last days."

The Gathering Storm, A Place to Begin

Moridin despairs. He had a nihilistic philosophy in the Age of Legends:

He called for the complete destruction of the old order - indeed, the complete destruction of everything.

The World of Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time

and still does. In The Eye of the World, Against the Shadow, which significantly was when they last met in this part of the dream, Moridin told Rand that he will gain unimaginable power from the death of Time. However, Moridin now doesn’t seem to look forward to this at all; his despair is such that he just wants Nothingness.

Is Rand stupid, as Moridin believes, to think he can kill Dark One? The Pattern has to have both Light and Shadow to be a Pattern according to Moiraine (The Dragon Reborn, Within the Weave) – the Dark One and the fight against him is a, or really, the, major part of the Pattern.

Rand wonders how he got to Tel’aran’rhiod when his dreams are warded. Moridin doesn’t understand their bond, but deduces that is how and why Rand came to Tel’aran’rhiod. If they were both dreaming at the same time, and Moridin went to Tel’aran’rhiod, perhaps Rand would be pulled there too, despite his wards. Or maybe it was arranged by the Pattern. Rand was able to pull himself away by seizing saidin, even though he was distant from it.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Post #28 of Wheel of Time Costume

By Linda

In the second last post in the Wheel of Time costume series I look at the fashion sense of Birgitte, Min and Mordeth, three very influential individuals - and more than just sartorially.

For the full Costume article from the beginning click here.

Monday, May 9, 2011

The Gathering Storm Read-Through #16: Chapter 14 - A Box Opens

By Linda


Cadsuane is surprised that her equal among the Wise Ones is one who can barely channel. Sorilea is strong and capable in Cadsuane’s opinion. She arrived recently with a group of Aiel reporting to Rand on Bandar Eban. This would be at the time of Chapter 7 or later, ie within the last 5 days. It’s Sorilea’s first (and only?) visit to see Semirhage. Despite being a weak channeller, Sorilea copies a weave she has seen only once. This impresses Cadsuane.

Bair thinks pain will break Semirhage. Cadsuane doesn’t. Cadsuane saw that Semirhage reacted to Sorilea dismissing her as disappointingly human and felt somewhat outdone by Sorilea.

Semirhage is very knowledgeable about the Aiel and their descent from the Da’shain and reverence for blacksmiths. While this makes the Forsaken seem more powerful and omniscient in the eyes of her captors, a little thought would reveal to them that the Shadow has good intelligence gathering through Darkfriends, including Aiel Darkfriends. After all, until the last few books no mainlander knew much about the Aiel and their customs, let along their origins –and few do so now.

While Sorilea suggests Semirhage be killed out of hand and not kept for her secrets, she already knows that Cadsuane doesn’t agree because she would otherwise have done so long since. Sorilea also knows that Rand might not permit it anyway, since the three women discuss his reluctance to harm women in this scene. Cadsuane is keeping Semirhage alive because she wants information on Age of Legends weaves. It’s a reasonable strategy for battle preparation and one dear to Cadsuane’s heart since she researches weaves and thus thirsts for such knowledge.

Cadsuane’s obligation to Sorilea showing her the travelling weave leads her to accede to Sorilea’s request to be shown where she keeps a male a’dam. She also needs their help in handling Rand, because she knows Rand is not ready - or more correctly, is too dark - for the Last Battle. So both Sorilea and Bair learn its location. Note that it was only after Sorilea (and Bair) saw a) its location and b) the weaves protecting it, that the a’dam was raided. But more of this in subsequent chapters of the read-through.

Cadsuane is not interested in gold or glamorous surroundings beyond reasonable comfort and security. The trunk is a decoy for where the real valuables are stored: in a battered documents box. She disarms the box’s traps while Sorilea closes the door.

Cadsuane innovates with the Power in a relatively safe way. Most Aes Sedai don’t at all. During their training, just about all desire for experimentation is squelched out of them in the name of safety. This is a laudable motive but is it taken too far? Few Aes Sedai take up weave research and experimentation when they are raised. Cadsuane recently developed the weave over the box which restrains an intruder and sounds an alarm. The traditional weave would have destroyed the box’s contents of male a’dam and access key, but Cadsuane doubts that it would work on the a’dam. It wouldn’t, since it’s cuendillar and she should have known that. The weaves are inverted so no one can see them.

The women largely ignore the access key (as does whoever raids the box) and concentrate on the a’dam. It implies that the thief perhaps did not know its function – as a Wise One would not, because Rand had not used it after the cleansing of saidin, and the mechanics, indeed the cleansing generally, has not been widely discussed among characters. If the thief believed that no male should use it, then they likely would have taken it. Shaidar Haran would know what the access key was and taken it as the highest possible inducement or sign of favour for a male Forsaken, or to prevent an ambitious Forsaken from trying to supplant the Dark One. Therefore I don’t think Shaidar Haran raided the box. This would be discussed further in Chapters 22 and 23 of the read-through.

Cadsuane has studied the bracelet of the male a’dam with her group and she wants to test the collar on a man, so she kept one. However Rand won’t allow her to because of his own trauma from captivity. Egwene would agree with him, as we see in her reaction to Elaida’s enslavement. Bair thinks testing it is too dangerous, however Sorilea agrees with Cadsuane. Cadsuane tested a female a’dam earlier but was unable to escape the collar and had to be released by the bracelet holder. This was quite brave and dedicated of her; it could easily have resulted in her losing face among the Aes Sedai or in her leashholder revealing herself to be a Darkfriend.

Sorilea and Cadsuane are agreed that the male a’dam is evil. Nynaeve told Cadsuane there was only one and it was supposed to be thrown into the deeps. She did not explain how she knew. Sorilea and Bair fear Rand being enslaved with it. Sorilea says the Seanchan can’t be trusted and implies Rand shouldn’t treat with them. This is attitude is increasingly prevalent in The Gathering Storm and Towers of Midnight and Aviendha witnesses in the glass columns where it will lead to.

Cadsuane told Sorilea and Bair that the other a’dam are stored elsewhere and are being studied by retired Aes Sedai. She did not say they also have Callandor. Cadsuane believes Callandor has secrets that need to be researched and she tells more of this towards the end of The Gathering Storm: that it probably has other flaws besides magnifying the taint and lacking a buffer to prevent overdrawing the Power ( see Callandor section of the Sa'angreal article). Moreover it appears to feature extensively in the prophecies, which is what has spurred Cadsuane to research it (see Prophecies of the Dragon).

Sorilea suggests that they need to work out a plan to manage Rand for the good of all and Cadsuane agrees. They meet in the Wise Ones’ tents in the next day and the a’dam is burgled while Cadsuane is out. But, as I said above, this is for Chapters 22 and 23.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The Gathering Storm Read-Through #15: Chapter 13 - An Offer and a Departure

By Linda


Chapter 13 is Gawyn’s POV and follows on naturally from Egwene’s POV of the previous chapter. Egwene thinks Gawyn is too independent in his thinking. We see he’s not comfortable at all about his situation and is only content when he’s sparring because then he can stop thinking. Like Aviendha, Gawyn is a person of action. He finds peace and stillness in working the sword, which is great for his military prowess but not so good for planning a course of action or for self awareness. The Pattern is holding Gawyn in stasis until sheer frustration forces him to change.

Gawyn’s admiring recount of Sleete’s tale is interesting. Apparently someone (of the Shadow) wanted people from the Dumai’s Wells battle:

The villagers there had been tempted to sell Sleete to a local band of bandits—their leader had visited earlier promising them safety as a reward for revealing any refugees from the nearby battle. However, the mayor's daughter had argued for Sleete's life, convincing them that the bandits must be Darkfriends if they were seeking wounded Warders.

The Gathering Storm, An Offer and a Departure

Male or female, channeller or non-channeller was not specified, and the word ‘revealed’ indicates that the bandits may also have been after information – say of the location of an Aes Sedai or an Asha’man.

Gawyn admires Warders for their humility and dedication. He has neither and this is a pointer to where his sub-thread is headed in The Gathering Storm and Towers of Midnight. He is prophesied to be Egwene’s Warder yet is currently unsuitable to be one, not in fighting ability, but in character.

But then Moiraine complained that Lan, the best of the Warders, was lacking in humility:

Moiraine sniffed. "Your humility, Lan Gaidin, has always been more arrogance than most kings could manage with their armies at their backs. From the first day I met you, it has been so."

The Great Hunt, Watchers

and when he fell in love with Nynaeve she started to doubt his dedication too.

Gawyn’s resentful dig at Rand (as well as Aes Sedai):

While Aes Sedai manipulated the world and monsters like al'Thor got the glory,

The Gathering Storm, An Offer and a Departure

shows another important issue in his thread: his envy of Rand which has developed into hatred. The full extent of this comes out when he talks with Elayne in Towers of Midnight.

Gawyn is described as a creature of light and shadow, an ambivalent figure because he has aided evil as much as good; the very thing he rails against Rand for doing.

In his efforts to secure Gawyn as Hattori’s second Warder Sleete says Gawyn belongs with the Warders, that he is one of them. This is not yet true as Gawyn himself recognises:

That was one reason that Gawyn wouldn't make a good Warder. He didn't trust Aes Sedai. His mother had, and look where that had gotten her. And how the White Tower had treated Elayne and Egwene . . . well, he might support the Aes Sedai, but he certainly didn't trust them... Sensible men stayed away from them when possible, and obeyed them with alacrity whenstaying away was impossible. Gawyn had trouble doing either; his bloodline prevented staying away, his pride interfered with obeying them.

The Gathering Storm, An Offer and a Departure

Gawyn is briefly tempted by Sleete’s offer but thoughts of Egwene stop him from committing.

Sleete says Hattori would have herself assigned to Andor to be Gawyn’s Aes Sedai. He pointed out to Gawyn that all decisions were bad on the day of the coup, which consoled Gawyn because he respects Sleete. Sleete is convinced that there are wise women in the Tower who will end the division. He seems to know Aes Sedai politics and certainly is aware that Hattori is low-ranked because she is a weak channeller:

”But she's also not influential, so the others don't listen to her. Aes Sedai. Sometimes, all they seem to care about is who carries the biggest stick."
Gawyn leaned closer. One rarely heard talk about Aes Sedai ranking and influence. They didn't have ranks, like the military, but they all instinctively knew who among them was in charge. How did it work? Sleete seemed to have some idea, but he didn't talk further on it, so it would have to remain a mystery for now.

The Gathering Storm, An Offer and a Departure

Hattori sounds almost more Brown than Green in that she chose a Warder who is more natural than polished, and is too “busy with other tasks” to find another Warder. Perhaps she is a good delegator and trusts Sleete’s judgement - although trusting a man’s judgement to that extent is also unusual, even in a Green.

According to Sleete Hattori disliked the divisiveness of Elaida’s regime and wanted out of the Tower. After the failure of the Embassy she was concerned to report to the Greens about Elaida’s “true plans” but was kept from telling senior Greens what Elaida’s orders were as long as possible, and had to send her report via message, rather than in person.

Gawyn’s consciousness of the responsibility to pay workers a fair wage is one of the few times he appears in a positive light. In contrast, Elaida’s Aes Sedai are woefully arrogant and ignorant about it.

Katerine returned to Dorlan to show the Aes Sedai there Travelling so they and the Younglings can raid the rebels. She deliberately let Gawyn overhear that Egwene is being abused in the Tower as punishment for being rebel Amyrlin. Gawyn is convinced that Egwene is being tortured (true) and will be stilled and executed. In a flap he rides off for the rebel camp. Sleete deduced his intentions but let him go because a) he sympathises with him and b) he thinks Gawyn might find a way to help end the conflict.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Post #27 of Wheel of Time Costume

By Linda

The costume styles of the Tuatha'an and the Whitecloaks were added to Part 2 of the Wheel of Time Costume article today. The Whitecloak uniform is medieval in style, whereas the rest of the current mainland nations have costumes dating from 1500s to 1800s in the real world. Thus Whitecloak dress is 300 years or more 'out of date', reflecting their old-fashioned views.

For the full Costume article from the beginning click here.

I am almost at the end of this series. There are only 1 or 2 more posts to go.