Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The Gathering Storm Read-Through #54: Epilogue - Bathed in Light

By Linda


Egwene POV

Egwene’s thoughts about her desk lamps are perhaps a dig at reviewers like myself:

They were shaped like women holding their hands into the air, a burst of flame appearing in each set of palms. The calm yellow light reflected on the curves of their hands, arms and faces. Were they symbols of the White Tower and the Flame of Tar Valon? Or were they instead depictions of an Aes Sedai, weaving Fire? Perhaps they were simply relics of a previous Amyrlin's taste.

The Gathering Storm, Bathed in Light

suggesting that sometimes an object is itself and nothing more. Mind you, Egwene (and the author) omitted the suggestion that I would have made: the lamps might represent the Amyrlin and the Keeper working side by side; something there was very little of under Elaida’s reign. The lamps are decorative but functional. Egwene’s room is as austere as Elaida’s was opulent.

The Aes Sedai are fearful of offending Egwene, perhaps overly so? I guess Elaida had everyone prepared for the worst sort of tyranny, and Egwene’s execution of a heap of (undoubtedly criminal) Aes Sedai have not thrown her in a kindly light either, and added to the fear, if anything.

We never found out what was found among Elaida’s effects. Or even if they did get around to examining them. Or whether Egwene has questioned each Tower Aes Sedai yet. She plans to train damane as Aes Sedai, just as Nynaeve and Elayne encouraged the Kin to rehabilitate and re-humanise former damane.

Egwene’s choice of a Red Keeper – from the antithesis of the Ajah she would have chosen – shows her relative political weakness. Or perhaps it forestalls developing political weakness.

Nearly forty initiates, more than twenty four of them Aes Sedai, were captured by the Seanchan. Sixty Tower Black Ajah escaped, plus twenty more from rebels. Probably the escaped Black Ajah from the rebel camp warned those Blacks in the Tower. Over one hundred women have been lost to the Tower in a couple of days.

Egwene deduces that Mesaana worked out a way to defeat the Oath Rod. The Forsaken was bold and rather courageous to take the calculated risk and stay to be tested. It may indicate how desperate Mesaana is for a personal victory for the Shadow.

Silvana and Egwene found the sun shining on Dragonmount reassuring and comforting, so much so that Egwene wants the day marked. Interesting that innocents – novices, referred to as children – saw it first. It has been many weeks since the sun shone, since Rand was not dark. He is Sol Invictus, the unconquered sun here (see Rand essay), and is at his best in this role.

The chapter begins with candlelight in the guise of channelled light and ends with the restoration of natural light – saidin and saidar turn the wheel, but they are a candle beside the Light of the World.


The closing prophecy is from the Essanik Cycle. This is the first we learn that the Seanchan version of the Prophecies has a different name, and that they are different enough to have been separated not just from the mainland Prophecies, but from the original “native” Seanchan Prophecies of the Dragon.

The many that become one at the end of time probably refers to the nations uniting together. As regards

the last storm shall gather its angry winds to destroy a land already dying.
And at its center, the blind man shall stand upon his own grave.
There he shall see again, and weep for what has been wrought.

The Gathering Storm, Bathed in Light

The world is dying from being blighted by the Dark One. Rand is the last storm who in his rage at the world worked himself up into a tempest to destroy this failing world. He nearly failed the world himself.

He is at the centre of the storm, standing on Dragonmount, which was created by Lews Therin as he died.

Rand froze. The winds blew against him, but he could not be moved by them…All was still. Even with the tempest, the winds, the crashes of thunder. All was still.

The Gathering Storm, Veins of Gold

Rand was blind to the mistakes he was making and the corruption and madness he was carrying within him.

We don’t see Rand weep on Dragonmount, though he was upset enough at what the world and he had come to. He was too angry. He laughed after his epiphany though. Laughter and tears – the things Cadsuane said Rand needed to re-learn or the world was doomed.


Anonymous said...

Well, does the dragon reborn really matter for TG?
There is only one remaining question: Who will be the one with enough money to pay Valan Luca to kidnap the DO, as it was foreshadowed (in a Mat POV - I think in KOD)?
Maybe Mat will pay him himself, so he not has to fight TG?

Vic said...

I had assumed that "The many will become one" was a reference to all of the Dragon Reborn's past lives coming together, and now Rand has all of their memories.

Nicholas Alexander said...

FelixPax: Rand absolutely cannot be the Dragon Reborn? Really?

Even after reading up through Towers of Midnight you believe this?

You say "Rand absolutely cannot be the Dragon Reborn, because his biological mother Tigraine was not a 'Maiden.' Galadedrid's existence proves that fact..."

This is based on a misunderstanding, though it is an understandable misunderstanding. You see the word "maiden" and probably (consciously or no) your mind jumps to the Bible, and how Mary was a maiden in the sense that she was a *virgin* who nevertheless conceived a child and gave birth to him--miraculously, through the power of God--in fulfillment of messianic prophecy.

But the Prophecies of the Dragon are using the word "maiden" to mean something else altogether. The Prophecies are referring to the fact that Rand's mother, "Shaiel," was a Maiden of the Spear. It is an example of the "reverse engineering" RJ was so fond of. So the Prophecies of the Dragon don't require that the Dragon's mother be a virgin; they require her to be a Maiden, a word that doesn't necessarily connote virginity.

I'm not going to bother making the case that Rand = the Dragon. If you've read the books, you can do that yourself.

But to get you started: *Towers of Midnight spoilers*

If Rand is not the Dragon Reborn, then

How does Rand know who Tellindal Tirraso was, and how she died?

Why does he, especially by The Fires of Heaven, have knowledge of events from the Age of Legends, 3000 years prior, which were unknown even to Asmodean?

How does he remember details about the strike on Shayol Ghul, since the specifics of that event died with the sixty-nine surviving members of the Hundred Companions, each of whom went mad the instant the Dark One's counterstrike tainted saidin, at which point they began destroying everything in sight?

Why does he remember, at the end of The Gathering Storm, the way he felt when, as Lews Therin, he massively overdrew on the Power, burning himself out of (mortal) existence and creating Dragonmount in the process? How does he recall--at the end of The Gathering Storm--the events we read about in the prologue to The Eye of the World? Here is the exact quote:

"Rand could remember that day. The smoke, the rumbling, the sharp pains of a Healing bringing him back to lucidity as he lay in a broken palace. But those pains had paled compared with the agony of realization. Agony from seeing the beautiful walls scarred and broken. From seeing the piles of familiar corpses, tossed to the floor like discarded rags. From seeing Ilyena a short distance away, her golden hair spread out on the ground around her.... the air thick with blood and soot and death and pain.... 'Why do we have to do this again?' he whispered. 'I have already failed. [Ilyena] is dead by my hand.'"

Why do Artur Hawkwing, Birgitte, etc. acknowledge Rand as Lews Therin in The Great Hunt? Were these Heroes of the Horn mixed up? When Birgitte, at least, had fought alongside Lews Therin in the War of Power? When Lews Therin had spent the last 3000 years living in TAR like all the other Heroes?

I could go on, but no use wasting time. There are hundreds of questions like these that you'd have to answer (compellingly) before you could rationally get around the simple fact that Rand = the Dragon Reborn.

Nicholas Alexander said...

Again, I'm not going to try and make a thorough case here. But you say:

‘On the slopes of Dragonmount shall he be born, born of a maiden wedded to no man.’

1. Elayne says she remembers this as being part of the Prophecies. Is she right? Does she remember it correctly? Did the translation she read/heard it from render it correctly? But this is a minor point.

2. The Old Tongue is difficult to translate. It is very similar to Hebrew, actually. No translation of the Old Tongue into the common tongue can perfectly capture the original wording, and the translator may have to choose between several ways he/she could translate a word or phrase.

3. The main point I wanted to make, though, is that "a maiden wedded to no man," doesn't necessarily mean what you assume it does. Maidens of the Spear are wedded to the spear. They cannot marry so long as they remain Maidens of the Spear. To marry, they must give up their spears and stop being a Maiden. It is impossible, in the Aiel way of thinking, for a Maiden to be both wedded to a man and wedded to the spear. So Shaiel/Tigraine is not married to a man, because she is married to her spear(s). In TFoH, I believe it is, a Maiden (Sulin I think) says as much, telling Rand that her spear is her husband.

This is my last post on this particular topic, just so you know. You believe what you believe, and I can tell that nothing anyone says is going to change your mind.

Arani said...

@ FelixPax - And what would you do if we have conclusive proof that Rand really is the Dragon Reborn?

Philipp said...


While I understand it is quite tempting to examine such details in scrutiny the "evidence" you present does not seem to be evidence at all, in my opinion.

For example, the difference in slope and slopes could merely be an error, respectively completely unintentional. There are other errors and logic mistakes within the series.

Coming back to the basics it just does not make sense to me claiming Rand not being the dragon. Of course, the prophecies could have been fullfilled by another person than the dragons, at least in part.

But why would Rand be such a strong Ta´veren, why would the land react so directly to his shifts in mood as well as to his actions? This part simply applies to no flase dragon (see for example the "Apples first" chapter in ToM) and I would be surprised were you to present any reasoning why a false dragon should have such a distinct connection with the pattern.

Philipp said...

It is not a "fact" that another child was born on the slopes of Dragonmount. It is an assumption that you deduce from what could very well be an unintentional difference in spelling. The whole theory that you build around it is well quoted, but nonetheless not based on "facts".

Also, I´d be interested on how you can explain Rand being such a strong Ta´veren and so unified with the land itself, when in reality you presume him not to be the real dragon.

Donnie said...

"Egwene’s choice of a Red Keeper –from the antithesis of the Ajah she would have chosen – shows her relative political weakness. Or perhaps it forestalls developing political weakness."

Well, I think her choice had many (good) reasons, but I'm not so convinced that it was (only) to deal with her possible politcal weakness, now or in future. Egwene now seems to have even a bit better standing, as she has real supporters in the hall, while when she was only the rebel's Amyrlin, she had none and had to play one side against the other all the time or to dupe them all (well that did she in TOM again).

The reasons for choosing Silviana were in my eyes:
With a Keeper from the loyalist, she (and the rebels) are a bit more reconciled with the loyalists. But on the other hand for this reasoning chosing a red wasn't the easiest or best way, as the reds now have a very bad standing with all the other Ajahs, what is shown when there's no red sitter present. So it could have been easier for her to choose a loyalist from another Ajah.

But the second reason for choosing Silviana is that Egwene really wants to heal and reunite the Tower and all Aes Sedai without putting someone (or an Ajah, even the reds) aside. She shows the reds that she wants them to be a part of this reunited Tower (a she wants to give them a new purpose).

The third and maybe most important reason is that Silviana qualifies for the role as Keeper for the first two reasons, but also as she is competent and as Egwene pointed out, she did her duty - and she will do her duty for Egwene with the same efforts, and Egwene can trust her not to work against her (especially as she spoke open against Elaida in the end).

In a way Silviana is the perfect and the logical choice. Let's have a look at other possible candidates:

Romanda & Lelaine (same reasons against both): They would have tried to gather power for themselfes in the position and would have worked against her as much as they could and tried to undermine her position, and if Egwene would have chosen one of them, the other would have been a much more grim opponent in the Hall because of this insult.

Siun: She would have been a good choice from her abilities, but Egwene lost her trust in her, some people would still think that Siuan was the real power behind Egwene, even if they saw Egwene's real strength, and the choice of Siuan would be a blow against the reconciliation of the tower, as it would offend the loyalists.

Leane: She could have been a good keeper again, but the case against her is the same as the last reason against Siuan.

A Green Sister: Egwene thinks of herself as a green Ajah (or that she would have been a green before she was Amyrlin), so a green would be a logical choice, but I do not see a good candidate there. We could name Leane, as she is a green now, but see reasons against her are shown above. Who of the other greens knows Egwene good enough to trust them? Myrelle - maybe, but she is not present at the Tower, she's a rebel, and her temper and general appearence do not fit the role of the keeper very well. Maybe a green Ajah from the Tower? Well the only one Egwene knows there a bit seems to be Adelorna - but Egwene does not really know enough about her, to trust her, I think, and there are no reasons that speak for her, apart from being a loyalist and a green one.

Last one - Saerin:
I think she would have been an excellent choice, too - she showed more than one time that she is competent (hunting the black Ajah and defending the Tower against the Seanchan), she gave some sympathies in the beginning to Egwene, and later on we see that she's loyal to her. She is also a loyalist - and she is a sitter - this combined with being loyal to Egwene makes her a worse choice than Silviana (who is not a sitter), because with not choosing her, Egwene gains a good keeper and a loyal person in the Hall (who also has much influence under the sitters).

Donnie said...

So Egwene gains very much from her choice: She shows that she is the real Amyrlin, with noone else guiding her from the shadows, the Amyrlin of all Aes Sedai (rebels and loyalists) and of all Ajah (and none), even the reds; she gains an excellent keeper and with not choosing Saerin she gets strong support in the hall.

Anonymous said...

Jeez. You guys c'Nt be arguing with FelixPax now can you? Is there someone who don't know him yet?

Linda said...

I have deleted what I believe to be trolling posts.

Donnie: when I remarked that Egwene's choice of keeper showed her political weakness (or desire to avoid being politically weak) I was paraphrasing Elaida's complaint that she had to promote Alviarin because she needed White support and was politically weak.

She was pleased with her choice afterwards when she saw how good Silviana was at the job, but her choice was dictated by politics.

Vic: you make a good observation. There are a few "many who become one".

Anonymous said...

Linda: I can it you tend disbelieve Sammael's comments about Rand al'Thor/Lews Therin lacking a grave to spit on?

Linda said...

Sammael standing over a conventional grave and spitting on it: power and triumph.

Sammael standing on a tall volcano and spitting on it: insignificant. He just looks like he ate something that tastes bad or is clearing an ENT infection.

Leyla said...

I can't believe someone (this FelixPax person?) said that Rand is not the Dragon Reborn. He's just trying to get HCFF's goats and/or is just being stupid.

Linda: I don't think the lamps thing is a dig at reviewers like you. I think Sanderson likes the WOT fans :)

Anonymous said...

Leyla Felix seems to think that Rand is a false dragon to distract the shadow and let Lucas cape save the world

for a class of nutjob 101 check out his posts on Theoryland

Misopogon said...

I believe more of these have been fulfilled than you give them credit for, or are more direct:

And the Blade will bind him by twain. This refers to using Callandor.

The prophecies clearly showed that the Empress would defeat those who served the Shadow, and then she would send the Dragon Reborn in to duel with Lighteater.

The simultaneous defeats of Anath and Suroth.

"Melaine and Amys dreamed of a man standing by your side with a dagger to your throat, but you did not see him." Lews Therin, Fain or Moridin or a lot of other guys. But in its literary context I think this is a herald of Lew Therin.

When the One-Eyed Fool travels the halls of mourning,
...Mat inside the Tower of Ghenji

The last days of the Fallen Blacksmith's pride shall come.
Perrin's "pride" was that he was not a lord. This could also be a red herring, since "Fallen Blacksmith" could refer to Lews Therin, who forged the original seals, then fell.

Rand in chains, and it was he who was screaming. Metaphorical chains: this is the main plotline of the Gathering Storm, that Rand is trapped by his place in prophesy.

Several concerned Rand, not all bad, but all odd. Elayne, forcing him to his knees with one hand. Elayne was the one who wove the bonding.

Rand, wearing different masks, until suddenly one of those false faces was no longer a mask, but him. I wish this one carried an emotion. Either the unification of Lews-Rand, or the moment Lews took over in KoD.

Gawyn. Then she was standing in the road in front of him, and he reined in. Not because he saw her, this time, but the road that had been straight now forked right where she stood…

I think this plot thread has been nicely tied up. He made his choice when he betrayed the Younglings.

At the end of the quake, six towers remained, looming above her... Moridin, Cyndane, Moghedien, Demandred, Graendal, and Mesaana now live, though the latter was put out of the game after this dream. Moridin's most likely (but not 100%) the one that fell and rose again.

The Black Tower will be rent in blood and fire, and sisters will walk its grounds. Obviously the latter has happened, the former has to happen.

"I saw you [Rand] and another man. I couldn’t make out either face, but I knew one was of you dies, and one doesn’t."
The Moridin connection.

a broken crown, and trees flowering all around him [Perrin]. Tried to make things green in the Dream World, and while he may not yet wear the broken crown we already know how he would.

It’s Cadsuane. She is going to teach you something, you and the Asha’man. How to laugh, cry, and accept humility. I think she's done it inadvertently. Note how the Asha'man that come into her sphere get bonded, lose the black, and let go all the Taim-ishness.

"They will serve you, each in her fashion, Rand’" she said hurriedly. "I saw it." Sorilea would serve him? Suddenly Min wondered exactly what "in her fashion" meant. They have served, even Elza, who killed one of her own bosses while in Rand's service.

What did Lanfear ask for in the *Finns' world in the Age of Legends? And this time? (Moiraine's questions and wishes and Rand's third question will surely all be revealed). I'd like to know too but I think Rand is going to save Mierin before all is said and done. Much bad has come from his bias against harming women; the good of it must come.