Thursday, May 31, 2012

Towers of Midnight Read-Through #21: Chapter 14 - A Vow

By Linda


In Tel’aran’rhiod the Land is green, but the sky is threatening. Both the Shadow and the Light of the Pattern is obvious here and the Light is holding up in the battle at the moment.

After Rand’s visit, the Aes Sedai found hidden food stores in good condition. This holding back of Wrongness by the three ta’veren is a continuing motif in Towers of Midnight.

Egwene returns full circle in Tel’aran’rhiod to where she first visited as a beginner. She is aware of how much she has learned since then thanks to her mentors the Wise Ones (and Siuan, as far as Aes Sedai law and politics are concerned), but feels she’ll have to learn as much again. Her judgment is pretty correct, I think. She is a novice Amyrlin even if she is better than some already.

Egwene wants to work on one problem at a time –but so many need attention. So which? And how to solve them ?

Bair says Sorilea won’t like it that Egwene is Amyrlin. This could be for the reason Bair says: that Sorilea thinks Egwene is wasted on the Aes Sedai. A more sinister reason would be that Sorilea doesn’t want Egwene reforming the Aes Sedai and focussing them on what they should be doing: contributing positively to the Last Battle; ie that Sorilea is a Darkfriend. There is no way to tell which is right.

Egwene says whether they are fools or no, she can’t abandon the Aes Sedai. After all, the Wise Ones did not abandon her, but took the trouble to train her. She thanks them for all they did for her and they complement her in turn. It doesn’t happen often that they give direct praise; just as Aes Sedai rarely give thanks.

"The Car'a'carn has embraced death," Amys said. "He has given up trying to be as strong as the stones, and has instead achieved the strength of the wind."

Towers of Midnight, For What Has Been Wrought

The metaphor of Rand having the strength of the wind recalls the image of the wind rising at the beginning of each book, representing the breath of life of the world, as well as a beginning. Rand is frequently likened to a tempest in the last two books, and his advent marks the end of one Age and the beginning of the next or, from another point of view, the beginning of the End, which it is his duty as the Creator’s champion to prevent.

Stones can be broken if hit hard enough or in the right spot; they are often hard but brittle. Amys regards air as superior to earth, as women channellers would do.

This is similar to what Cadsuane told Rand:

"Stone cracks from a hard enough blow," she said, her face an Aes Sedai mask of calm. "Steel shatters. The oak fights the wind and breaks. The willow bends where it must and survives."
"A willow won't win Tarmon Gai'don," he told her.

Knife of Dreams, News For the Dragon

This also reminds me of the song that has been popular throughout the book: “The Wind that Shakes the Willow”.

The Wise Ones think Rand has matured, but are grudging of this, in contrast to their fulsome praise of Egwene. They appear to have lingering doubts or objections about him. Perhaps he has not met all his toh.

Egwene has feet in both Aes Sedai and Wise One camps so she understands the best – and the worst – of both groups. Aes Sedai are better at channelling, Wise Ones at cooperation and leadership. Yet the Aes Sedai have forgotten much of the Age of Legends knowledge, so how well does Wise One cooperation and leadership compare to those of the previous Age? I guess we shall see in the last book, but there was much politicking in the Age of Legends by all accounts, as can be seen in the definition of ajah as:

“an informal and temporary group of people gathered together for a common purpose or goal, or by a common set of beliefs.”

The World of Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time

and Mesaana complementing Aes Sedai manipulation with

“Watching her play her little games is certainly amusing. You children almost match the ajah at times.”

A Crown of Swords, Prologue

So perhaps better. After all, the Aiel were descended from a people that were dedicated to support, while the Aes Sedai concentrated on channelling.

Both groups are insular, and chauvinist (in the general as well as the specific meaning of the word).The Aiel seem arrogant as well as naïve here:

"I wish that there were a way," Egwene said, "to train more sisters in the ways of the Wise Ones."
"You could send them to us," Amys said. "Particularly if they need punishing. We wouldn't coddle them like the White Tower."

Towers of Midnight, A Vow

In fairness to the Wise Ones, Egwene’s treatment was exceptional as well as illegal. The typical Tower training is far milder and slower – which is why the Wise Ones are so disparaging.

The suggestion of cross-training or student exchange is finally raised, and it contrasts with Egwene’s original idea that all female channellers should be under one umbrella organisation. After this, the Kin’s situation is more likely to be acceptable and ratified. Egwene sees benefits in two different cultures working side by side with exchanges.

With some concord reached, Egwene revisits the subject of Rand. The Wise Ones are surprised he went to the Tower after the abuse he suffered when he was kidnapped. Egwene says his idea of breaking the seals is mad and tells them she will be marshalling opposition.

Egwene thinks her friends disloyal – Rand, Gawyn, Nynaeve most of all. Loyalty seemingly being defined as “doing what Egwene wants and not being allowed to explain their own opinions or actions”. There may be some excuse for Egwene to have this attitude to Nynaeve, since she is Nynaeve’s boss, but not for the other two.

A dragon’s fang has appeared in the White Tower rose window in Tel’aran’rhiod. (The rose window makes the White Tower church-like, since the term is usually reserved for churches.)

Did this window represent one of those, another world where Dragon and Amyrlin ruled Tar Valon side by side?

Towers of Midnight, For What Has Been Wrought

The window represents this world – which should have men and women working together. It did once, and is starting to again, so far without the White Tower’s participation. The Tower could be leading the way; instead those channellers in Rand’s group, Perrin’s group and soon even the Black Tower are the ones bringing channellers into balance. The dragon’s fang in the window represents what should and soon will be. The way the symbol has insinuated itself into the heart of the White Tower could be seen as a sly reminder of the existence of male channellers, and as a threat to female channeller exclusivity. It is a statement that Egwene and Rand should work together, not her marshal opposition to him, even if he has planned for it. Saidin and saidar are equal and opposite powers, but the Wheel only turns by them both working together.

Egwene puts Nynaeve on the defensive with news of the Seanchan raid on the Tower. But Nynaeve could do the same about what Rand has been through: where are the Tower Aes Sedai helping Rand?

Egwene says she is doing everything because she doesn’t trust the Aes Sedai to obey her orders. Nynaeve has experienced what Egwene is going through as a too young leader. Most of Nynaeve’s advice Egwene probably knows; she’s mainly having this conversation to get Nynaeve to see how she’s treating Egwene in the same way as she was when promoted too young. Nynaeve does come up with some new advice: don’t give Aes Sedai, especially Sitters, make-work, give good orders, and make sure the sisters are not bypassing her and create a fuss if they are. This leads to Egwene manipulating the Hall to vote on all Sitters of each Ajah to be present for votes, with no one left out, and the Amylin being informed of sittings so there is no going behind her back.

Egwene forces Nynaeve to recognise her authority and that Egwene feels she is disloyal. Nynaeve is not just reluctant to swear obedience to Egwene, but to any Amyrlin. Now Nynaeve knows how older women felt when she was elected Wisdom. One reason for Nynaeve’s reluctance is that Egwene and Elayne are Queens, while she is still “in waiting”.

Egwene is shocked that Elayne and Nynaeve accept that Rand should break the seals. She thinks they must be too influenced by him and need to be around her. In reality the reverse is closer to the truth: Egwene is so isolated from Rand that she has no idea of what the battle with the Shadow and the Dark One has been and will be like. Perhaps Egwene’s interpretation of her dream of Rand chopping the ropes holding a crystal sphere together (Towers of Midnight, The Amyrlin’s Anger) is what makes her convinced that breaking the seals is the wrong thing to do. Egwene is saying the same sort of thing that Latra Posae said back in the Age of Legends: it is too risky to open the Bore.

Nynaeve is told she must take the Three Oaths, otherwise she sets a bad example. Elayne’s vows may be delayed due to her pregnancy. The Sitters say Nynaeve needs to be tested in the ter’angreal, although Egwene thinks Nynaeve has enough experience to be exempted. (As it turns out, Egwene is right, but not in the way she argues here.) Egwene won’t go through the testing herself, having already taken the Oaths more than once.

The Black Ajah use only weaves in Tel’aran’rhiod, not direct thought and control. Egwene was doing this too.

She catches a glimpse of a bloodknife in Tel’aran’rhiod. The bloodknife is not literally there; one may have dreamed themself into the World of Dreams.

Why is it normal for Tel’aran’rhiod to be silent? Is this just a late Third Age condition reflecting the threat to the world? Or, more amusingly, is it a silent reflection of the lack of communication in the series?

At the end of the chapter Egwene tells Elayne and Nynaeve about the Black Ajah. Duhara’s name is not mentioned in Elayne’s thoughts after this, so maybe she was not mentioned in this discussion? That would be the usual turn of events.

As happens at times, there are a few fulfilments of the chapter title ‘A Vow’: Egwene’s silent determination to find Mesaana, Nynaeve’s promise to Egwene:

"I won't treat you the way women did me after I was first named Wisdom,"

Towers of Midnight, A Vow

and, more tenuously, the plan for Nynaeve, and ultimately Elayne, to take the Three Oaths.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Towers of Midnight Read-Through #20: Chapter 13 - For What Has been Wrought

By Linda


Min is attributing her loss of fitness or athletic prowess to too much studying, and that might be so, but she is more vulnerable than she admits. It’s also a reminder that her youthful vigour will not last, as it will for the channellers.

Rand, on the other hand, has aged from his experiences spiritually and mentally but it shows in his eyes and face. Initially, Min feared that Lews Therin had taken over. The warmth and distorted air around Rand implies some sort of halo effect as though Rand is now a demi-god. Rand, Sol Invictus and “soul of fire”, seems “afire with life” to Min.

She sees new viewings around Rand: an open cavern and blood-stained rocks which are probably a reference to the confrontation in Shayol Ghul. Also, two dead men surrounded by large number of Trollocs, and a pipe with smoke curling from it, which leads us to think that one of the dead men smokes a pipe (for analysis of this viewing see see here).

Min repeats Cadsuane’s idea that Alanna could be used against Rand by the Shadow, but he disagrees, saying:

"The Shadow does not need her to find me, Min, nor will it ever again. All its eyes are fixed directly upon me, and will be until I blind them."

Towers of Midnight, For What Has Been Wrought

So Rand intends to damage or disrupt the Shadow in some way. The blunt dagger ter’angreal with Elayne would hide Rand from the Shadow’s eyes. I have a theory that he may use it to go to Shayol Ghul.

Yet the Shadow could use Alanna to harm or distract Rand, though, eg by killing her. They could do that with a few other people close to Rand though. Rand says that the Shadow can’t kill him before the Last Battle. It is too late for the Shadow to prevent the confrontation of the Last Battle. It also may mean Rand’s confrontation with the Dark One will certainly happen (which we “know” from prophecies and clairvoyance anyway).

The Aiel are not excited Rand is back because he has toh to them for sneaking off in the first place and must both meet it and stop incurring more. We are not shown how Rand meets it, but by his steeling of himself, are left to imagine that it will not be pleasant.

Rand pre-empts Nynaeve’s abuse and tweaks the Aes Sedai’s tails about Cadsuane. This completely takes the wind out of their sails. By dealing openly and honestly with those he has treated badly, Rand’s own opinion of himself improves as does their opinion of him.

Min suggests Rand’s proclamation that Egwene reunified the White Tower is tactless. His positive response to this is such a contrast to how he would have reacted before his epiphany. Cadsuane’s Aes Sedai had not heard that the White Tower is reunified, but then it only happened a day or so earlier. This is confirmation that Cadsuane is not in close touch with the Tower and is running her own show.

Corele expected the White Tower would hold Rand. Rand deliberately stirred up the Tower because he expected opposition to his plans and that the Aes Sedai would be the focal point. Not just because of the Pattern last time, but because he has long experience in how Aes Sedai seem to never follow other leaders’ strategy. One of his main aims is to have the opposition unified so he only has to deal with it once.

“I've poured hot oil into the White Tower, and it will be boiling soon. Time. We don't have time! I will get help to Lan, I vow it to you, but right now I must prepare to face Egwene."

Towers of Midnight, For What Has Been Wrought

Rand has a plan on how to turn their objections and get the Aes Sedai to help close the Bore. He doesn’t know how to seal the Dark One away yet, but seems to be trusting that he will think of it in time – with Min’s help. Callandor is part of the solution. He delays helping Lan, and also in the next scene, dealing with the Black Tower for the usual “reason”: too much more pressing stuff to deal with.

Nynaeve assumes that if Egwene is annoyed with Rand it is because he did something wrong.

Rand learned from Cadsuane that he is not a weapon (but I don’t think this is the thing she will teach Rand and all the Asha’man). He doesn’t say what he is. I think Rand is more a shield as well as a representative of humanity or Everyman that will be sacrificed – a scapegoat in the most positive and literal sense. In the Bible, the scapegoat was a goat chosen to be outcast in the desert while symbolically carrying the sins of the entire people of Israel as part of the Day of Atonement when each Jew tried to amend their behavior and seek forgiveness for the wrongs they had done.

Rand intends to ask Cadsuane to find King Alsalam, who is probably in the Caralain Grass with his Aes Sedai escort. He worked this out after learning that the Tower holds another missing King, Mattin Stepaneos, and guessed that they had tried to bring Alsalam to the Tower but were stymied halfway by the chaos and war. The information on Mattin Stepaneos was probably in Verin’s letter to Rand (see Verin and her Letters article). Her letter probably also informed Rand that High Lord Weiramon was a Darkfriend (see article on Weiramon’s activities), since he said “so it is you” as though he had some prior information.

The Darkfriends were almost unable to look Rand in the face and it was obvious from their difficulty and their body language why:

Weiramon kept glancing at Rand, then looking away…
"Meet my eyes, Weiramon," Rand said softly.
"My Lord Dragon, surely I am not worthy to—"
"Do it."
Weiramon did so with an odd difficulty. He looked as if he was gritting his teeth, his eyes watering.
"So it is you," Rand said. Min could feel his disappointment. Rand looked to the side, to where Anaiyella stood last in line. The pretty woman had pulled away from Rand,
her head turned. "Both of you."
"My Lord—" Weiramon began.
"I want you to deliver a message for me," Rand said. "To the others of your…association. Tell them that they cannot hide among my allies any longer."
Weiramon tried to bluster, but Rand took a step closer. Weiramon's eyes opened wide, and Anaiyella cried out, shading her face.

Towers of Midnight, For What Has Been Wrought

It is as though they cannot bear his Light. Traditionally, the eyes are windows to the soul, so when Rand looks into their eyes he sees into their soul and its allegiance (and they his – the Creator’s Champion). Likewise, the Eye of the World, filled with saidin, was a window to the world soul. It was incomplete and unbalanced (one-eyed) since it held only one of the powers that drives creation, not both. A single eye, albeit also symbolic of the eye of Horus (which represents royal power and good health and was used as such by Rand). And we were told in Book 1 that blinding the Eye of the World was a plot of the Shadow.

Rand cast the Darkfriends out, rather than took them prisoner, because after being exposed they are useless as saboteurs or spies now. Neutralising an enemy without having to use a weapon is a way to earn much ji, which is why the Aiel banged spears on shields in approval. Everyone else is surprised – they expect the Darkfriends to be taken and executed.

Rand believes that Darkfriends can no longer hide among his allies – that he can expose them “because he is no longer blind”. This ties in with the Essanik Cycle prophecy that:

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.

- from The Prophecies of the Dragon, Essanik Cycle. Malhavish's Official Translation, Imperial Record House of Seandar, Fourth Circle of Elevation

- The Gathering Storm, Epilogue

The chapter title refers to this prophecy and Rand did weep in this chapter for what he has done.

In order to expose Darkfriends Rand has to actually go and meet with each group to purify it and regrettably he has delayed going to, or planning how to deal with, the most Darkfriend-ridden group of all: the Black Tower. So he is still blind to a degree.

It seems to me from his statements about what the Shadow can and can’t do that Rand feels a certain amount of immunity to the Shadow now:

”The Shadow made its play for me and lost. It is a war, not subterfuge, that turns the day now."

Towers of Midnight, For What Has Been Wrought

Yet at the end of the book, Lanfear will make a play for Rand, so the Shadow are still trying subterfuge. It will be interesting to see if they succeed even for a short while.

It is meeting Tam that has Rand nervous and reluctant, even more than meeting his toh to the Aiel. This is another reparation that Rand must make and he is greatly ashamed that he has to do so. Tam forgives him for his threats to kill him and for what he has done to others – for what has been wrought by Rand. Rand weeps and all watch understandingly and respectfully.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Towers of Midnight Read-Through #19: Chapter 12 - An Empty Ink Bottle

By Linda



The circular break in the clouds over Tear is because Min is there. The sun shining on Tear parallels the emotional warmth Min feels through the bond and both have the same cause: changes in Rand after his epiphany. This is the first indication that the sun breaks through the Shadow’s cloud barrier where Rand’s three loves are, as well as where Rand is, and food and the Land are healthier. The symbolism is of Rand as Sol Invictus, the Unconquerable Sun, turning the darkness of the Shadow aside. With more power – say having the other two ta’veren with him – he could break the Shadow’s hold altogether.

Rand has been gone for three days. He was “reborn” at his epiphany but this is probably not the parallel with Christ returning from the dead after three days. More correctly, it may be the first and perhaps least of these parallels. I anticipate the main one will be at the confrontation with the Dark One, but for all I know, Jordan may be following his triplicate rule, and there will be three of them. Rand is currently missing but not lost.

Nynaeve wants Min to lead her to Rand because she was concerned Rand was so dark, but Min insists on Rand’s need for privacy. Min knows he has changed outlook (but not personality) but hasn’t told her. Perhaps she thinks Nynaeve needs to see it herself. Or perhaps it is too private a thing to speak of. Or she is just reacting against Nynaeve’s peevishness and bullying.

Min excuses what Rand did at Natrin’s Barrow as “necessary”. Nynaeve still thinks it was monstrous. She fears what Rand had become:

“I knew Rand al'Thor, and the boy still inside him. The man he's become frightens me. I always told him he needed to grow up. And then . . . and then he did." She shivered visibly.

Towers of Midnight, An Empty Ink Bottle

The atrocities he was manipulated into committing are not a sign of adulthood, just as his previous ethics were not a sign of childhood. Rand will show her this in the next chapter.

Nynaeve was not going to answer Cadsuane’s summons on principle but was shown it was important. In contrast, she expected Min to do as she asked, but Min balked.

Cadsuane POV

Cadsuane prefers Corele’s flippancy to other Aes Sedai’s self-importance. Corele felt no channelling when Alanna vanished, but Bera felt a small amount. This is an indication that Bera is stronger in the One Power than Corele. Cadsuane was surprised that Bera fetched her tea because there were lower ranked Aes Sedai present (Rafela, Corele).

Nynaeve is not an Aes Sedai in Cadsuane’s eyes, or so Cadsuane maintains, yet she wonders if Nynaeve is Black, rather than a Darkfriend. (This could be an error.) Cadsuane cuts Nynaeve slack over her frustration that Rand is missing.

Cadsuane knows why two Maidens are tailing Min; namely, to let Wise Ones know when Rand returns, and maybe also what Min says about him. Min disregards them because she has bigger things on her mind.

We don’t know who delivered Verin’s letter to Alanna. Its contents made her go to the Borderlands, probably to her native Arafel. The small amount of Power used that Bera sensed could have been to weave a disguise: as a servant, for instance, someone an Aes Sedai could not imagine another disguised as. A servant would be overlooked and could walk out the rear entries of the Stone unnoticed.

Cadsuane reminds Nynaeve that the Shadow can torture or Compel information about Rand and his whereabouts out of Alanna, which makes Nynaeve regret that Alanna was not better watched. Cadsuane agrees privately with Nynaeve, but disputes with her publicly. Yet only the day before Cadsuane herself appears to have coerced information out of Alanna on Rand’s location.

The tea is perfect because Rand has returned. This ties in with Min’s POV above and with Rand’s healing effect in earlier scenes in Towers of Midnight.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Towers of Midnight Read-Through #18: Chapter 11 - An Unexpected Letter

By Linda


Elayne is in tantrum mode, peeved at not being allowed to have wine and to injunctions to rest, envying those who are slim, and being angry at her shaky hold on the throne and at Dyelin pressing her to make reasoned judgements (eg on Ellorien and on the captive nobles). Her slowness in releasing the nobles gave Ellorien the opportunity to plead for them, to earn their gratitude and look merciful in Andor’s eyes. Elayne will have to find a different solution to the captives now. She decides to take the Cairhien throne, accepting it as Rand’s gift.

Norry took the initiative to watch Duhara. After rejecting Duhara, and the administration she represents, Elayne over-looked her. Duhara met with Ellorien and may have collaborated with her on ways to show Elayne up, the first one being the letter. Duhara wanted Elayne to see her manipulating nobles to cause political problems so that Elayne would be intimidated into accepting her. Elayne knows Duhara won’t return to the Tower while Elayne is antagonised. The timing is in Elayne’s favour since Egwene has just taken the Tower. However, Egwene doesn’t know Duhara is there and therefore hasn’t told Elayne she is Black.

Elayne has held onto most of the mercenaries. She can’t afford to pay them, but may be providing some food to them. Whether she is or not, they have stayed because food is scarcer and more rotten in most other places. Mat assumed that if Norry knew the Band was camped outside Caemlyn, Elayne would too. He underestimates how much responsibility Elayne’s chief officials have.

Mat’s letter is over the top in its poor spelling compared to his previous letter in A Crown of Swords. Birgitte’s preference for a pretty backside rather than a pretty face on a man made me smile. Her comment that “Mat could dice with the Dark One and win” could be Foreshadowing.

Elayne immediately begins to think of how she can use Mat and his army before she has even set eyes on them. She plans to take the Cairhienin section of the Band to Cairhien with her. They will Travel there, once Elayne obtains the services of the Kin. Really, she assumes a lot here, because she seeing Mat’s letter as supplicatory. His justifiable attempts to make her feel in debt to him in his letter failed.

Elayne (and the reader!) is suffering an overload of emotions currently, but she must also be pragmatic for her nation’s sake:

Elayne loved him. But she didn't intend to see Andor become merely another part of the Dragon's empire. Besides, if Rand were to die at Shayol Ghul, who would rule that empire? It could break up, but she worried that someone—Darlin, perhaps—would be strong enough to hold it together. If so, Andor would stand alone between an aggressive Seanchan empire to the southwest, Rand's successor to the northwest and the southeast and the Borderlanders united together in the north and northeast.
She could not let that happen. The woman in her cringed to think of planning for
Rand's death, but the Queen could not be so squeamish.

Towers of Midnight, An Unexpected Letter

Note that Elayne plans her own alliances or political bloc, whereas Aviendha’s grandchild will play false with other nations, including Andor, and try to break alliances.

Elayne had two unexpected letters in this chapter and was insulted by both of them, although Mat’s also amused and pleased her.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Towers of Midnight Read-Through #17: Chapter 10 - After the Taint

By Linda


Perrin POV

Perrin is being pressured to attack the Whitecloaks by his Asha’man, but he is reluctant to do it, in part because he is repelled by battle, and in part because he feels they yet have a role to play in his life, a feeling of events turning full circle:

It felt like the time had come. Time to make an end to his troubles with them, one way or another.

Towers of Midnight, After the Taint

By checking over all his army, whether they need supervision or not, he is treating all sections of his forces equally. Another example of his egalitarianism is that he would rather they didn’t salute him.

The highest ranked Aes Sedai and Wise One worked with Neald to link. This may be a coincidence or not. Neald is the lowest rank of Asha’man and the Wise Ones boss him. He feels balanced when using both halves of the Source. The necessity of balance is a major theme of the series.

Neald does not actually weave saidar, he blends it with saidin. On the other hand, Rand did weave saidar at the cleansing of the taint. Masuri is frightened and revolted by linking with a male – long prejudice, plus she doesn’t know saidin is clean. Moreover Neald is leading the circle, which would add to the feeling of being at the mercy of something or someone. Edarra is more objective, but still cautious. The men haven’t told anyone that the taint is gone because they didn’t want to be thought delusional.

Grady says that he knew he should join the Black Tower because his father could channel and was found by Red sisters. Yet in Lord of Chaos he tried to back out of being tested for the ability and said that his father is looking after the farm. The latter could be a fabrication, but the former is inconsistent with his attitude in this chapter. What he says here is probably an error.

Like Rand, the Asha’man expected to die soon – accepted that they would need to be killed – and will take out as many of the enemy as they can until then.

Galad is superior to other Whitecloaks, which is why he doesn’t smell wrong. He is ultra-correct, but not infallible. His ultimatum to Perrin for a trial by battle with their armies or else he kills Perrin’s camp followers would be at a high cost – typical of Galad – and not one of his best judgements.

Galad POV

Freaked out by Perrin’s yellow eyes, Galad thinks Perrin might be Shadowspawn. He was aware the Aes Sedai could not harm him due to the oath and deduced Perrin did not have the ability or will to kill him with the One Power because he would have done it already. Galad thinks Perrin worries about his image, but actually it is his integrity. So he made the right deduction but used the wrong reason. Galad decided rapidly in favour of fighting because he thinks the Whitecloaks will have a better chance of winning now than at the Last Battle. His judgements are off due to his prejudices. The Trollocs, Morgase, and Perrin himself soon undo that.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Towers of Midnight Read-Through #16: Chapter 9 - Blood in the Air

By Linda


The gholam told Mat that he is its priority. This probably stems from Moridin’s order to the Forsaken in Knife of Dreams to kill Mat and Perrin ASAP. Of course, Moridin could be the direct commander of the gholam, but more likely it is one of the Forsaken working in Ebou Dar – Moghedien, Graendal, or Semirhage, although Semirhage had recently been balefired at this time. The gholam said it was instructed to kill those close to Mat to lure him out and perhaps it didn’t lie. This is a recent “order”, since it knew Mat loved Tuon. Mat deduces it learned this by spying on or interrogating people in the camp and not from its controller. That would mean the order was a general instruction to kill those close to Mat, and it filled in the blanks as to who those were. It may not have had recent contact with its controller (which makes it possible that its controller was Semirhage).

The foxhead medallion is more than a symbol of Mat’s luck since it literally prevented the gholam from killing him. Ironically it makes Mat immune from the One Power and protects him from someone also immune to the One Power. When pushed or hunted too far, Mat overcomes his risk aversion and stubbornly retaliates. For the gholam, Mat reached this point finally because of the threat to Tuon.

Mat fighting the gholam in the dark parallels Gawyn fighting the bloodknives in the dark. Both their assailants were very fast and very good at hiding and avoiding notice. Gawyn managed better against his three than Mat did against one. This is not meant to indicate their respective fighting skills, but that of their foes.

Teslyn is clever in quickly using indirect weaves on the gholam. It helped that she saw Mat’s medallion at work back in the menagerie.

The contrast between Joline and Teslyn shows how appearances mislead. Teslyn is physically unattractive, and used to being rejected, yet she is better hearted than most Aes Sedai (most women in the series?), as it turns out. Joline is pretty but spoiled, and is still as immature as Teslyn said back in A Crown of Swords. Mat used to set more store on how women look in his judgment of women. Joline is in a white dress here, but she is not likely to wear white since it is the mourning colour. She brings herself to ask Mat for horses, though it was an effort, and then couldn’t resist advising him not to swear, which spurs him to swear more than ever, especially to Elayne. His letter is so outrageous that Norry finally shows it to her and this leads to her finally granting Mat and co an audience. This is a nice example of the compounding of circumstances.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Ways and Means

By Linda

When I met Brandon in Sydney in April, I asked him if the continents connected in the northern polar region and he said “possibly” in a disinterested fashion. However when I asked if there were many Waygates in Seanchan he tensed and said that was a big RAFO.

The reason for these questions is that I have a theory that forces from Seanchan will be brought unexpectedly to the mainland via the Ways. Unlike Portal Stones and gateways, the Ways don’t require channelling (handy in a land that kills or leashes channellers), and any creature, even Shadowspawn, can be moved along them. If the army left at night, the dark of the Ways would not seem so unnatural.

The secondary part to the theory is: who would bring them? Demandred for one. As a brilliant general he has parallels with Hannibal (247-182 BC) (see here for the Age of Legends part of this parallel), who marched elephants across the Alps and so to war with the Roman Republic. One could compare the heights and depths of the paths and islands in the Ways with the steep passes of a mountain range. The Seanchan literally have elephants (s’redit) of course, but there are other formidable creatures – those from the If worlds – trained for war that could also be brought to terrify mainland forces. It certainly would cause chaos. The If world animals were able to eradicate all the Shadowspawn on the Seanchan continent (The World of Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time) so they’d be a very useful addition to any army wanting to fight or defend itself the Shadowspawn attacking the Westlands, whatever side that army is on… Damane may well be part of this army. There were plenty of them left behind in Seanchan. From what we saw in Chapter 1 of Towers of Midnight, the Seanchan are geared for fighting. A Seanchan army with a very different agenda to that already on the mainland suddenly appearing on th mainland should add nicely to the war.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

A Memory of Light Illustrations

By Linda

Darrell Sweet Sketch for A Memory of Light

Link toIrene Gallo's post on the sketch at

Rand’s body lies on a bier on a pile of logs in a battlefield. There is possibly fire between the logs, but no smoke. Three women in mourning white circle it. Since they are three ‘witches,’ the scene has a Macbeth-like feel. TOR art director Irene Gallo says the women are Min, Aviendha and Elayne. The blondest woman – Elayne, presumably – is sleeveless, which is atypical of dress in The Wheel of Time – and she doesn’t appear to be pregnant, either. There are swords and arrows in the field, but no evidence that the battle included cannon.

The Aes Sedai symbol in cloud reminded me of the prophecy that “under this sign Rand will conquer” – what? Presumably the Shadow, but what about death too? Irene Gallo hints that the dots of contrasting shade are supposed to be there, when they have previously been missing since at least the Age of Legends as a symbol that the world is not in balance. Darrell Sweet’s son told me that they might have been removed in the final version. So perhaps it was not decided on.

The regularly terraced object in the left background may be a tall buildi – though none yet have been described with this style – or a mountain. It glows red at the tip. The whitish mass partially covered by the cloud could be Tar Valon (and therefore the terraced pile would be Dragonmount).

The cover is more apocalyptic than the Whelan cover.

Michael Whelan A Memory of Light Cover

Link to's post on the cover

The scene is a cave with limestone stalactites (specifically modelled on the Carlsbad caves). Yet Shayol Ghul is volcanic with an active magma chamber, steam and vapours and “stone teeth” (A Crown of Swords, Mindtrap), NOT stalactites, probably similar to these igneous formations:

Rand walks ahead with Callandor. Two women “who have been with him since the beginning”, according to Irene Gallo, follow him. One, in blue, is probably Moiraine, and other, in yellow and green, is probably Nynaeve (though Nynaeve hasn’t worn yellow, despite being of the Yellow Ajah, because it’s not one of Lan’s favourite colours on women). Rand’s coat has no pockets in this picture, whereas in the books his coats do, and they were big enough to cart around the access key figurine.

There is nice clear light outside – and it’s not very shadowy in the cave, either. This despite the sun being obscured by not only cloud, but the moon as well, it seems. If the drawing is accurate (and for the northern hemisphere), a total solar eclipse will happen in about ten to twenty seconds - and the darkness will last for 7.5 minutes at most.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Another Blog Update

By Linda

On the flight over to the US for JordanCon, I researched a second parallel that Rand and Artur Hawkwing have in common. This is to the Great Khans, Genghis and Kublai in particular, and I've added it to the Rand essay. (The first common parallel being King Arthur.)