Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Ages of Characters Article Updated

The Ages of the Characters article has been hugely expanded with information from The Wheel of Time Companion on training time for Aes Sedai as well as ages of many characters.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

A Memory of Light Read-Through #7: Chapter 4—Advantages to a Bond

By Linda

Androl POV

The chapter opens with each of the bonded pair confessing to the other. A feature of their double bond is that there can be few secrets between them, as they increase their ability to read each other’s thoughts. Pevara has probably rarely spoken to anyone of how long-time family friends murdered her family. Androl feels her pain and loneliness. She has no loved ones outside the Tower and few friends within it—and no Warder or lover. Her family would be long dead even if they had not been murdered.

Androl’s sympathy for her—or the realisation that she also has sad and painful secrets—leads him to tell of his father being able to channel and suiciding because he was succumbing to the taint. Androl realised that he might be able to channel (although unlike his father, Androl doesn’t have the spark, but could learn) and he went to the Black Tower to find out. This is the information that Pevara went fishing for earlier in A Memory of Light.

Androl can’t accept that someone can be forced to be evil. (Nor does Perrin.) He hates the idea of moral choice being removed from people, because it’s the most important choice. Lanfear says that channellers also have the choice to die or be severed to avoid being Turned, but many don’t do this.

Pevara wishes that she could access the Chair of Remorse at the White Tower to break Dobser, as the independent Sitters did to Talene. However, by understanding Dobser’s psychology, Emarin is able to manipulate him into divulging what they want to know. This impresses Pevara. It is interesting that Emarin proposes building a Grey Tower where both men and women channellers can work together. By the end of the book, the group will be working closely together without any formality.

As part of his act, Emarine speaks patronisingly of Logain. Logain is not a farmer—but a lord, albeit minor. Emarin tells Dobser his true identity and Dobser says that Taim would not like the competition from such a high status Asha’man, and everyone else would fawn on Emarin.

Taim knows that voluntary Darkfriends are more useful than forced ones. He has also taught how to break a tied-off shield. Rand broke one with Lews Therin’s input in Lord of Chaos.

Rand POV

Rand identifies his location as a dreamshard, created by a powerful Dreamwalker—in this case, Ishamael/Moridin. Despite being in danger, he doesn’t exit the dream because his curiosity overrides his caution. He knows that he is not as good as some of the Forsaken with dreams, and this dreamshard has obviously been made by a talented one. Solar characters, such as Rand, Aviendha and Graendal, have less ability with dreams and prophecy, which are lunar skills. Rand is taking a risk. While Moridin shouldn’t have been able to break Rand’s wards without him knowing (and this says danger as much as the dreamshard), he knew that Rand would come to the dreamshard. The implication is that this is because the two men are linked from the crossing of their balefire streams of opposing powers—but Moridin says they have been linked as opposites for Ages. All Ages? Opposites attract as well as contend. As usual, Moridin is very theological/philosophical with Rand.

Rand distracts him by commenting on Mierin. It’s super-effective; Moridin is enraged. Rand himself has mixed feelings about Mierin. In many ways he has left her behind. However, if she is alive, he can hope that Moiraine may come back. This aside is a setup for Merrilor.

Moridin’s world reflects the real world and also Tel’aran’rhiod in being filled with dying lifeforms. Like everyone who turns to the Shadow, he doesn’t create independently. Rand turns this around by doing to the dreamshard what intends to do, was born to do, in the real world—restore health and fertility.

Moridin hoped that Lanfear would distract Rand, though he doesn’t indicate this when Rand says her contact was a waste of time. Instead, he agrees, then attempts to make Rand anxious with hints that Lanfear will attack Aviendha (whom Rand is sleeping beside) even though Lanfear doesn’t have an interest in this anymore. Moridin is trying to press Rand’s buttons but it is not working; Rand doesn’t respond. Moridin correctly says that Lanfear hates and blames Rand for her fate. Her poorly concealed plan is to kill him at Shayol Ghul.

Rand indicates that he used to fear Moridin but not any longer. He wonders aloud if their early dream contacts were in a dreamshard or Moridin invaded his dreams. Moridin says nothing. Rand remembers the horrors of his solo flight to Tear when he was afraid to sleep (which made his mental health more precarious) because he was tormented in his dreams.

Rand can “almost see fires burning” in Moridin’s eyes, which will happen for real if he continues to use the True Power. Perhaps Rand senses that the flame eyes and mouth are not far off. He says that Ishamael was mad and so is Moridin. You have to be mad to serve the Dark One (or he makes you mad—a boss to drive you insane). Moridin dismisses this and says everything will be killed soon. Rand has great empathy now; he can feel Moridin’s desire for death, trapped into eternal service to the Dark One. This is something to make Moridin think later, drive him on. Like Emarin, Rand may have successfully undermined his opponent with knowledge of his psychology.

Moridin may be the first dark champion with enough theological and philosophical understanding to realise the true horror of his predicament and choices—which would add to his madness—fully appreciating how he has damned himself and feeling that he is an eternal tool of Fate. (Faust is a parallel of Moridin, and so is Lucifer in a way, although Lucifer is also a parallel of Lews Therin (see Lews Therin essay). The two men are very similar.) Right and wrong can be a hair’s breadth away: just one poor choice too many, one step too far…

Rand intends to break their eternal contention, which Ishamael has always dwelt upon, gloried in, even though, ironically, the Naeblis is tired to death of it. The Creator’s champion will ignore Moridin and fight the Dark One. He attacks Moridin’s dreamshard with “rightness” which Moridin protests is wrong. At first Moridin compares this with Rand’s miracles which have a mundane explanation. (We see Rand “sing” under his breath to make the Empress’ garden bloom.) Rand also uses empathy too, though, his ability to feel or know what others are feeling—something beyond Moridin:

Rand could feel his shock…”You hate yourself. I can feel it in you.”

A Memory of Light, Advantages of a Bond

The two men are the same height—emphasising that they are evenly matched. Rand is not the tallest person in the mainland, so Moridin could have been taller.

Are Rand’s “miracles”, or Labours always mundane? He does use knowledge and skill to do “impossible” things: he cleansed saidin—which Forsaken thought was impossible. In this case he deduced that the dreamshard would operate in a similar way to Tel’aran’rhiod, and imposed his will accordingly.

Rand declares that he is coming for the Dark One as he restores life to the dreamshard. Moridin protests “This isn’t”…possible, what is supposed to happen…

The Dragon stands beneath a blazing sun—that “dreadful heat of the Light” as described at the Eye of the World—shining in a dark place, and, as at the Eye, he “burns” Moridin. He is the solar character and also exemplifies the power of Rightness. Breaking the conditions of the shard, and alarming Moridin, is a matter of strong will. Rand sighs that it is not so easy in the real world. As he, and we, will see in Merrilor. But sometimes Rand is wrong and needs to be side-stepped.

Moreover, Rand is not an autocrat and should not be one. The power of the Light is in democracy and consensus and many working for the common good. Rand’s major voice of opposition at Merrilor will sacrifice everything for the Light. A third voice—Moiraine—will be the one to unify, or at least reconcile, the opposing parties.

Pevara POV

Pevara is shocked when she sees Asha’man kill—it brings home to her that they are weapons (which they are trained to be). She realises that she needs to shield her private thoughts—a disadvantage of the bond. This is ostensibly the explanation of the chapter title, but it also applies to the Rand/Moridin link. Rand and Moridin have a disadvantage too (one can corrupt the other and find the other). Androl points out that Aes Sedai do kill, because gentling always kills the man—it just is slower. An inconvenient truth for Pevara.

Androl deploys everyone and then figures out how to find the right tunnel in the dark by feeling where the water is flowing. This impresses Pevara, who is assessing him all the time, although Logain’s faction are quite familiar with his judgement and just follow him. Strength in the Power really is not everything. Her main concern is whether Androl has wandered a lot due to boredom or discontent or because he is looking for where he belongs, where he is accepted. He can feel her analysis and leaves it up to her to understand him. They really do well together, considering that they began out of desperation and then fear.

Jonneth has satisfaction of shooting Coteren with the very weapon he derided.

The cells are so small that the prisoner would feel like they are being buried alive. Logain immediately wants to know Pevara’s Ajah. She doesn’t think it matters—and it didn’t. But the roof caves in.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

A Memory of Light Read-Through #6: Chapter 3—A Dangerous Place

By Linda

Androl POV

The scene starts in The Great Gathering inn, run by my parallel in the Wheel of Time world, if you like. Its library is a reference to the Thirteenth Depository blog. The inn represents neutral ground at the Black Tower, so the bullying here is very telling, as is Lind’s lack of surprise at it. It is indeed a dangerous place.

Welyn gives a rousing speech, holding out promise of promotions. All the prospects have to do is align with Taim. Unfortunately, some would be swayed by that.

Jonneth is openly sceptical about what Welyn says and asks where Logain is and why Taim needs him to contact Rand. Two Rivers folk do not dissimulate. The main Two Rivers characters were just like this in the beginning. It’s a good reminder of how they’ve changed.

Lind tries to divert Jonneth from openly questioning Welyn, but then wants Welyn quietly investigated. Androl says that is too dangerous, but asks her to instead take note of what Welyn says. It turns out to be too late for that, in many ways. Androl may even have been overheard asking her to report—the last part of their conversation certainly was overheard.

Androl’s fear is at its worst when he is surrounded by three Darkfriends, and also when he worried out being Turned to the Shadow. Thoughts of the Shadow bring the shadows.

From Welyn’s speech they realise that Logain is a captive and has to be rescued tonight.

Most painfully, Androl is forced to surrender his sword pin. This is reminiscent of conditions in the White Tower under Elaida, who demoted an Aes Sedai, Shemerin, and an “Accepted”, Egwene. Both actions were Elaida’s idea, not Alviarin’s:

Shemerin wrung her hands, and tears actually welled in her eyes. Something would have to be done about Shemerin…Joline helping Shemerin wobbling to her feet. The Yellow sister would do nicely for the next example; some would be necessary, to make sure none of them slid back, and she was too weak to be allowed in this council.

The Fires of Heaven, The First Sparks Fall

and show that while Elaida is not a Darkfriend, her actions—humiliating and cruel as well as contrary to law and custom—were not far off.

Androl and Pevara start to realise the potential of their double bond. One feature is that Pevara can’t sense Androl’s thoughts if he holds the void. (Padan Fain found the same thing in The Great Hunt when Rand held the void:

Sometimes, in the keep, the boy had suddenly vanished from Fain's senses. He did not know how, but always al'Thor came back, just as suddenly as he had gone.

The Great Hunt, Glimmers of the Pattern

Rand did not channel in Fal Dara keep, but he did assume the void.)

Apart from bullying, Taim’s faction aims to destroy Androl’s leadership credibility in Logain’s faction to weaken it.

Rand POV

Following his integration, Rand now likes using saidin for mundane or positive tasks, and not just to kill or destroy. Using the power extensively for violence and death helped bring about his corruption. When Rand could barely channel, due to his divided self, he reserved channelling for only the most vital tasks—defending himself and destroying Shadowspawn and Forsaken. Such constraints forced him along the dark path. This is why he told the Asha’man that they are no longer weapons – to lessen their corruption. The darker the results of weaves, the greater the corruption.

The Tinkers have the right idea about violence harming the perpetrator—but they take it to extremes and let horrific acts happen. Even though his actions are so necessary, Rand feels the responsibility of killing and destruction as a huge burden and this is part of his sacrifice. He was damaged by destroying as much as by the violence committed upon him.

Rand senses Aviendha, Min and Elayne meeting. He realises that when they promised to share him as they bonded him they meant it.

"Well, we do want to share you! We will share you, if you agree…I am asking, Rand. We are asking. Please let us bond you."

Winter’s Heart, A Lily in Winter

They will decide amongst themselves which one will make love with him. He fears the pain his death will cause them, but they insist his only choice is whether to have all three or none. The rest is their choice.

Pevara POV

Pevara correctly deduces that a ter’angreal is blocking gateways at the Black Tower, and that the Forsaken have given Taim instructions on how to use it.

Androl feels his lack of strength makes him unfit to lead, even more so now that his talent is currently blocked. His gateways are very large, when normally gateway size is an indication of strength in the Power. Talent and dexterity do alter a channeller’s effectiveness, and Androl’s gateways are one such example. Another would be Berowin’s shields. Pevara doubts his gateway making ability and wonders if he is deluded. All the Asha’man know of them, however.

Androl is emphatic that he won’t be going to the White Tower. The Asha’man doesn’t want to escape the Black Tower, just be able to use gateways. He feels insecure without that ability. Pevara doesn’t know what Androl can do with them – all the variations – so she doesn’t understand his feelings. She assumes gateways are only for going somewhere, but Androl has been experimenting with them. We will see the results of this soon.

Pevara things that a Forsaken is trying to destroy the Black tower—as was happening in the White Tower. Androl, on the other hand, thinks they have known of the Black Tower all along – and planned to steal the channellers. He may even realise that Taim has been managed by at least one Forsaken.

They argue over their Bonds. Pevara wants to be rid of Androl’s bond, but have him bonded to her. She felt betrayed by the way he behaved when they were linked. He makes light of it because she wasn’t harmed. At the time, she had no confidence this would be so, or that he wouldn’t do something mad or bad to which she would be forced to contribute. He admires her ability to control an argument, she is ability to remain calm.

Pevara disapproves of men bonding their wives as too mundane. She underestimates the closeness of married people, and is ignorant of love, really. A likely result of living in a single sex group, and one that looks down on the other sex. Not surprisingly, Androl has caught onto her thoughts faster than she has his.

Pevara insists they not link so they can fight separately. Dobser has been Turned now. They are committed to freeing Logain once they capture Dobser; even more so once two other Asha’man discover them. Pevara captures Leems and Welyn almost by herself, which impresses Androl. Pevara says:

"What did you think the Red Ajah does with its time, Androl? Sit around and complain about men? We train to right other channelers."

A Memory of Light, A Dangerous Place

This is an answer—the answer—to the critics of the Red. They will be good as channellers’ police.

Androl was apprenticed to a Wise Woman to learn how to care for friends and colleagues. Until now he has been a jack of all trades, looking for somewhere to belong.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Cadsuane's Ornaments Article Updated

I've been working to update blog articles with information from The Wheel of Time Companion. The first of these to be re-posted is Cadsuane's Ornaments. We now have descriptions of the other three of her nine ter'angreal.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

A Memory of Light Read-Through #5: Chapter 2—The Choice of an Ajah

By Linda

Pevara POV

The spontaneous combustion of people is a new manifestation of Wrongness:

Earlier in the week, common people in the Tower—none of the Asha'man—had begun bursting into flame. Just . . . flame, inexplicably. They'd lost some forty people. Many still blamed a rogue Asha'man, though the men had sworn nobody had been channeling nearby.

She shook her head, watching a group of people trudge past on the muddy street outside. She had been one of those, at first, who had called the deaths the work of an Asha'man gone mad. Now she accepted these events, and other oddities, as something far worse.

A Memory of Light, The Choice of an Ajah

That’s really something for a Red to admit: that there are worse things than a male channeller.

The event refers to a real world myth of spontaneous human combustion where people appear to have burned up almost completely with no apparent source of ignition.

Pevara is terrified of reality unravelling and of being trapped where she could be Turned to the Shadow. Her allies are men she once would have captured and severed as a job well done. Yet she comes to not only appreciate them, but depend on them, which shows a) how adversity makes for strange bedfellows, b) the irony of her situation and c) how many good men were lost to the taint.

Androl thinks that they should get Pevara out because it is not her battle, and it is unfair that she is in danger. (Everyone is in danger from the Shadow’s war, however, and must fight.) He is happy to have her help, though. Each feels responsible for the other. Pevara wants to give the Asha’man “guidance” so they don’t fall to the Shadow. She is prepared to use herself as bait to do it, and is insulted that they think she needs rescuing from danger.

Androl is highly motivated by curiosity, rather like a Brown. He regards Aes Sedai as hedged in by custom and tradition.

Pevara refuses to believe that the Source is cleansed because men are still affected by the taint. (Its damaging effects on the male channellers were not undone by the cleansing. No new damage will occur, though.) Androl thinks the Reds should give up their purpose:

"You have two choices as an Ajah," Androl continued. "You can either continue to hunt us—ignoring the proof that we offer, that the Source is cleansed—or you can give up on being Red Ajah."

"Nonsense. Of all Ajahs, the Reds should be your greatest ally."

"You exist to destroy us!"

"We exist to make certain that men who can channel do not accidentally hurt themselves or those around them. Would you not agree that is a purpose of the Black Tower as well?"

A Memory of Light, The Choice of an Ajah

The Reds need to change, not disband. In truth Egwene had new duties in mind for them. Their best role would be to police both male and female channellers. After all, the White Tower became quite black for a while. The chapter title refers to the Red Ajah’s choice of a new role, and also reflects on Pevara's own choice of the Red Ajah all those years ago. Many have thought that the Green Ajah would have suited her better.

Pevara is strongly attracted by Androl’s character, particularly his mixture of passion and humility, but put off by his channelling ability. She tries winning him over by taking an interest in, and getting him to talk about, his work. He sees through her tactic of putting him at ease, and challenges her to admit the Asha’man make her feel awkward. To his surprise she admits it, then she explains why.

Soon Pevara is trapped into admitting the trauma of her past. She says more than she intends because she is so intrigued and impressed by Androl. In turn, he admits that she is different from other Aes Sedai. Somewhat disingenuously, she makes light of her differences—and also of the usual attitudes of Reds. Androl isn’t fooled. He is polite, but rejects her offer of working with her and accepting her guidance. She is annoyed—she thinks that her liking of men should be enough to earn his trust and for her motivation and decisions to be in their best interests. Yet she doesn’t believe the Source is cleansed.

Pevara says men channelling is terribly unnatural. She actually means it is a type of Wrongness; but now she is wrong (as in incorrect) and Androl disputes her out-of-date attitude. This scene harks back to when Rand linked with Nynaeve to cleanse saidin, a feat which Pevara does not believe was successful. It also mirrors Merise and Corele linking with their Asha’man after the cleansing, which they attended.

Androl follows up on their discussion in the Prologue and asks her about forming a circle—a measure of trust. When they do so, Pevara panics for an instant at first, as perhaps any Red would. Compare this with Toveine’s reaction when only touched with saidin:

She swallowed. Hard. It had to be the male part of the Power holding her up. She had never been touched by saidin before. She could feel the thick band of nothing snug around her middle. She thought she could feel the Dark One's taint. She quivered, fighting down screams...
He was a man who could channel.
And he had her shielded and a prisoner.
The shriek that burst from her throat startled even her. She would have held it back if she could, but another leaped out behind it, higher still, and another even higher, another and another. Kicking wildly, she flung herself from side to side. Useless against the Power. She knew that, but only in a tiny corner of her mind.

The Path of Daggers, The Extra Bit

It would be a rare Red who would even agree to Linking with a man.

The link feels better than Pevara thought it would. Androl complements her on her strength. Pevara doesn’t fear him, only saidin. She asks him to stop the link, but he doesn’t because he is intoxicated with the level of saidar that she can draw. This makes her panic again, much more, as she fears he could use her power against her. He stops when he realises she is really frightened, but she bonds him so she will have control. When she admits she has bonded him, he is angry that she forced herself on him and bonds her back. In this case, the man is weaker, becomes excited at borrowed strength and doesn’t listen to the woman’s requests to be released. She is determined not to be powerless again in their relationship and forces a bond on him. In retaliation he forces one on her. Neither behaved well on this issue.

The upshot will be that neither will be “guiding” or controlling the other: they must cooperate. Their link will enforce rapid understanding as well as enable them to plot secretly against the Dreadlords.

Pevara doesn’t know that, unlike non-channeller Warders, channeller Warders can’t be Compelled, as Alanna indicates:

"If you had to bond a man without asking him," Kiruna demanded in that commanding voice, "why, by the Light most holy, have you not used the bond to bend him to your will? Compared to the other, that is only slapping his wrist."
Alanna still had small control of her emotions. Color actually flooded her cheeks, partly in anger by the way her eyes flashed, and assuredly partly in shame. "Has no one told you?" she asked, too brightly. "I suppose no one wants to think of it. I certainly do not." Faeldrin and Seonid looked at the floor, and they were not the only ones. "I tried to compel him moments after I bonded him," Alanna continued as if noticing none of it. "Have you ever attempted to uproot an oak tree with your bare hands, Kiruna? It was much the same."
Kiruna's only reaction was a slow widening of her eyes, a slow deep breath. Bera actually muttered, "That's impossible. Impossible."

Lord of Chaos, The Mirror of Mists

Since Androl can’t undo his Bond, Pevara doesn’t suggest releasing hers. (She doesn’t indicate either way, but she may not know how to release a bond, either, since she only learned how to bond someone shortly before her trip to the Black Tower.) Aes Sedai rarely admit lack of knowledge.

Each experiences the other’s self and is very rapidly able to read the other. The Bonds didn’t cancel each other out; they augmented each other.

The news that Welyn and Jenare have been Turned confirms that Taim holds Logain and brings them back to the real problem at hand.

Aviendha POV

Over 100,000 people are at Merrilor. The world is holding its breath—not just for the Last Days, but also for the alliance of nations. It is so important.

Aviendha is going to Elayne for details of the Caemlyn attack, and to ask about Rand. The Aiel need to have a purpose after the Last Battle, and she is determined to work out that purpose. The Wise One now realises that going back to the Waste after the Last Battle would be a…well…waste, and destroy them ultimately. The Aiel must participate in the world and move with the times. Moreover, the Seanchan will never leave them alone. Aviendha considers whether attacking the Seanchan now is the answer, rather than waiting some years, as the Aiel did in her glass columns vision. She wonders why the Seanchan in her vision waited so long to attack; it is because they were bound by the treaty until the Aiel violated it. This part of the vision seems to have passed her by. Like many people filled with hatred and fear, she assumes the Seanchan will do their worst without compunction and so thinks she should therefore strike first herself. Already Aviendha is so distrustful that she assumes the Seanchan would violate an oath, even though she has no reason, just hatred, to think otherwise. The Aiel are already speaking of fighting the Seanchan, who would attack them. She appears to have forgotten that the Aiel were once oathbreakers and that her children deceive others to incite them to break the Dragon’s peace treaty.

There is a wry comment in this scene on one group perceiving others as backward: Aviendha thinks inheritance of a position is backward, whereas many peoples think the Aiel are backward.

Aviendha will spend the night with Rand because it is probably her last chance. However, she doesn’t think about not having taken contraception, so she probably can’t fall pregnant now—in fact the physical characteristics of her children in her vision show that she conceives some time after Rand exchanges bodies with Moridin. She asks Elayne’s assent and will also ask Min’s.

Rand deliberately annoys Elayne in his letter by being commanding; impressively, she is annoyed, even while she sees through his reverse psychology. It makes her proud of him.

Elayne and her advisors accept that Caemlyn is lost. They will wait until the Trollocs starve themselves out; and try to rescue people trapped in the city with gateways in the meantime. Birgitte is set to figuring out a way to lure Trollocs out of Caemlyn to a site of their choosing.

Sleeper Darkfriends opened the Caemlyn Waygate for Shadowspawn. There will be more sleepers activated in A Memory of Light.

Monday, November 30, 2015

A Memory of Light Read-Through #4: Chapter 1— Eastward the Wind Blew

By Linda

Rand POVs

This is the second last time that the wind rises in the books—the last is in the epilogue. The chapter title emphasises the poignant moment. The wind represents chi or prana, the breath of the world, and brings the story to life. Most symbolically, this time it rises in the Mountains of Mist. The winds have risen in a variety of locations on the mainland—and also once in Seanchan (Towers of Midnight) and on a Sea Folk island (The Path of Daggers)—but it rose in two places more than once: Braem Wood (twice, The Fires of Heaven, A Crown of Swords) and the Mountains of Mist (three times, The Eye of the World, The Dragon Reborn and A Memory of Light). By having the wind rise in the same place in the first and last books of the series, the story comes full circle. The wind blew most of the directions of the compass, and even down; it blew south three times and east four times.

Refugees are also heading east as though dispersed by the wind. Carried along with them, the reader witnesses the extensively diseased and infertile land, and abandoned villages. The world is dying, consumed, as the fires at Merrilor consume wood. It is the end times for this Age, but hopefully an ending rather than the ending for the Wheel. The sun is blotted out, leaving a perpetual dim light which is neither day nor night. We are in limbo, on the verge of the Underworld. The Dark One, Lord of the Underworld, gains power from death—including that of the day or night as Liandrin explained so long ago:

At dawn the day was born, just as twilight gave birth to night, but at dawn, night died, and at twilight, day. The Dark One's power was rooted in death; he gained power from death, and at those times she thought she could feel his power stirring.

The Great Hunt, The Shadow in Shienar

Therefore his power is gaining at a fast rate from this, the prolonged death throes of day and night, and he is flexing that power to crush all things.

With such impending doom, it seems shocking that the Dragon Reborn laughs, exhibiting normal, even positive, behaviour, as he delights in Perrin’s tale of the events leading to the Battle of Emond’s Field. Rand wants to hear about the people, not just the deeds. He needs to care about them now and during his trials, so that he remembers what these are for.

The Dragon is stunned that he is going to be a father, and realises why Elayne didn’t tell him before—he was too dark and unstable to approach. Even now, Perrin insists on talking to Rand when he is genuine and open. Rand is reassured that Perrin’s core is still the same. His own core should be too. Rand thinks he hasn’t changed, just accepted and adopted the role, but that in itself was a huge change.

By measuring and feeling reassured at how much his friends are unchanged, Rand rather overlooks their achievements. He is surprised at the accomplishments of his friends – the size of Perrin’s army and its loyalty, for instance, and how Perrin is a very approachable king. Rand has to be a remote ruler, above humanity, and a symbol without being a figurehead. He is worn down by this physically and mentally. Rand doesn’t think that Perrin might have forged his hammer. Familiarity leads to under estimation from both Rand and Egwene. Another good characteristic of Perrin that is often overlooked is that he shares the credit with others who helped, and actively promotes them to Rand. In turn, Rand compliments Perrin on how well he leads—looks after his people.

When Rand likens his past life/ancestral memories to a clear recollection of a dream, he received understanding from Perrin, who likewise has memories to draw upon—wolf ones—and is a Dreamer besides.

Rand is concerned about being distracted when he should be focussed on the Merrilor meeting to unify the world. He is sure that the Shadow wants to prevent unity and realises that this is why Mierin is trying to disturb his balance and manipulate him. Likewise, the attack on Caemlyn is another attempt. In fact, this has been a tactic of the Shadow since the series began: the Shaido, the White Tower schism, the Whitecloaks, the Seanchan Return, and more; it’s just that finally Rand has the clarity to see it.

As an influential ruler, Rand thinks that Elayne would help his planned alliance. Anything drawing her away from this would weaken it and undermine the meeting of nations. Perrin demurs because Elayne is on the “other side”. Rand says there is disagreement, but not an “other” side. (This is not true in the case of the Seanchan, who are being set up to be a third side.) Rand declares that Elayne must stay, to join the Coalition. Perrin points out that she should try to protect or salvage her homeland (as he did for the Two Rivers in The Shadow Rising). Rand says it is too late for anything except evacuation, although he is tempted to use the Asha’man. They will check to see if the city really is lost, but won’t fight anything until the coalition signed.

Perrin is displeased when Rand pragmatically wonders if the attack will backfire on the Shadow and make Elayne more accepting of Rand’s ideas. (She already did agree with them until Egwene dissuaded her). He quickly realises that the Trollocs probably entered through the Caemlyn Waygate. Perrin says they can try and disrupt that point of entry, and Rand teases him about knowing stuff he should not. The upshot is that Rand will send help for evacuating city, though.

Rand thinks Demandred is behind the attack because he was the first to discover the art of war, perhaps even writings derived from the real world book of that title, or even Sun Tzu’s actual book. This is not necessarily so, however, since the other Forsaken also learned how to wage war. It is a red herring for us, as we see when Demandred finally reveals himself.

Rand thinks how, as Lews Therin, he inspired Demandred’s betrayal by competing with him. Contrast this with Mat’s and Perrin’s camaraderie and Rand’s more generous acknowledgement. Mat’s competition with Rand in front of the Empress is a teasing one and ends with Rand laughing.

The common people express their fear to Rand, who comforts them by reminding them of the prophecies. The major function of prophecy is to give guidance and hope, and, therefore, comfort. Rand warns people that there will be earthquakes and storms as the Dark One Breaks the world. It helps people control their fear if they expect danger.

Rand warns Balwer that Elayne will have spies amongst Balwer’s clerks. He is not concerned about what they find out because he will be announcing everything tomorrow. Taking a leaf out of Perrin’s book, he then praises Balwer, showing consideration and encouragement.

While Perrin is apologetic of Faile’s wariness of Rand, Rand privately thinks Faile is right not to trust him and also to think that Rand will hurt those close to him.

Perrin warns Rand that the Merrilor meeting could end in battle, and also that the cuendillar Seals are the Amyrlin’s responsibility. Rand agrees. He persuades Perrin of the value of breaking the Seals to reforge the seal on the Dark One’s prison anew, rather than make a patch. Perrin thinks this is very reasonable and should convince Egwene. Rand is doubtful because Egwene is not a craftsperson. Perrin says that she is very clever and will understand their argument. Egwene represents the conservative faction, though.

Rand wonders if sealing the Dark One away is the answer, when perhaps something more permanent, like killing him, might serve better. “I’m coming for you,” he thinks of the Dark One. In a few chapters he will tell Moridin to say this very phrase to Shaitan. The Dragon doesn’t feel ready for the end, but it has come. He is not afraid, though.

Rand’s madness took the form of his Lews Therin personality trying to take over. Yet the memories from Lews Therin had a good purpose: they showed him the mistake of pride leading to arrogance, by trying to do everything himself. Lews Therin’s parallel, Lucifer, fell because of pride:

Pride fills me. I am sick with the pride that destroyed me!
Lord of Chaos, A Saying in the Borderlands

Soul of fire, heart of stone, in pride he conquers, forcing the proud to yield.

A Crown of Swords , Opening epigram

How many have died for my pride? Lews Therin moaned. How many have died for my mistakes?

The Path of Daggers, Answering the Summons

The taint both sent Rand mad and enabled him to understand/know his past lives and where he went wrong. The way evil undoes itself—the irony of it—scares him. It is also a sign that he can redeem himself by the very thing that damned him, as Christ undid Adam’s sin.

Perrin will support Rand so long as there is no fighting among themselves. This is fine for Rand, who intends to unite the people. They must have unity this time.

Egwene POV

Egwene uses Travelling to avoid notice and speculation. She wonders what Siuan would have gotten up to with the weave, but the way the Tower was at that time, it is more likely that people would have gated in to kill her. As Tuon’s guard recognised, Travelling is a potential security risk without a dreamspike or other guardian. The knowledge of Travelling also means that the Hall can’t enforce the law against the Amyrlin leaving the Tower without permission. Unless martial law is operating, the Amyrlin has to inform the Hall of any intended travel, so they can establish there is no danger, since it is against the law for her to deliberately endanger herself without the Hall’s agreement:

The Amyrlin Seat being valued with the White Tower itself, as the very heart of the White Tower, she must not be endangered without dire necessity, therefore unless the White Tower be at war by declaration of the Hall of the Tower, the Amyrlin Seat shall seek the lesser consensus of the Hall of the Tower before deliberately placing herself in the way of any danger, and she shall abide by the consensus that stands.

- A Crown of Swords, A Pair of Silverpike

Most Amyrlins would protest: where is the danger in quickly ducking out and back by gateway?

When Elayne suggests that they let Rand break Seals, Egwene is shocked and appalled. In her opinion, Elayne is so besotted with Rand that her judgement has been affected. In keeping with the undercurrent of underestimation the young Emond’s Fielders have for each other, Egwene also assumes that Rand’s scheme is reckless and foolish. The situation is a potential replay of the standoff between Latra Posae and Lews Therin in the Age of Legends when Latra Posae gathered the agreement of all powerful female Aes Sedai in the Fateful Concord to not participate in Lews Therin’s strike on Shayol Ghul. This time it would be the refusal to agree to the treaty and is the potential disaster that Moiraine averts as Min’s viewings foresaw:

She had not really lied when he asked her what viewings she had kept back. Not really. What good to tell him he would almost certainly fail without a woman who was dead and gone?

- A Crown Of Swords, Into The Woods

Min sighed regretfully, but it was not as if she had really expected Moiraine to turn up alive. Moiraine was the only viewing of hers that had ever failed.

- A Crown Of Swords, Into The Woods

Egwene believes that the Light can’t risk having the Bore open for too long – and that’s how events played out. Considering that Rand was mistakenly planning on killing the Dark One right up until this time, this was providential. The Shadow’s theft of the Seals prevented them being broken earlier, and so the Bore was not opened until the last possible moment. So Egwene is, or was, right.

However, currently Egwene is not convinced that the Bore needs to be opened at all. The phrase “Wait upon the Light”, a critical bit added by the Dreamer Amyrlin, gives her pause, because of the weight of a Dreamer’s (potentially prophetic) words.

The young Emond’s Fielders tend not to underestimate Nynaeve—just each other—but a telling mirror of this occurs when Nynaeve remarks that she is impressed that Moiraine (with whom she competed and who is weaker in the power than she) Healed Tam of a Thakan’dar blade with an angreal. This while Nynaeve herself Heals a patient as desperately ill as any Semirhage Healed.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

A Memory of Light Read-Through #3: Prologue— Androl and Moghedien POVs

By Linda

Androl POV

Androl and Pevara deal with their nervousness in different ways: he is making something to keep his mind occupied, while she is chattering and questioning. Androl lets Pevara know that he is aware of her questioning others about him and that he finds it under-handed. He also shows her he knows why she is doing it: to find out why a man would choose to learn to channel—or see if he could. To his surprise she replies honestly. She is a better person than he thought. While talking to her, Androl is trying to force himself to be calm, like a woman wanting to channel saidar.

Pevara suggests that they try to link. This technique is something Androl didn’t know existed. When she patronises him about his lack of knowledge, he says no man may know everything, implying that anyone, including women, who claims to know all are wrong.

Androl assures Pevara that he is weak in the Power, even though he is a leader. This is not something an Aes Sedai would expect, since it is the opposite of Aes Sedai custom. Perhaps she thinks he is trying to fob her off, but she will soon find out he is being truthful.

The Red tries to flatter Emarin at the expense of the other Asha’man present and he insults her politely—or at least, mocks her. Androl thinks she missed his sarcasm, but sarcasm doesn’t work if it is ignored. So they came off about equal.

Emarin and Pevara are working out ways to escape, but Androl wants to bring everyone out who isn’t a Darkfriend. Moreover, the Asha’man will not abandon the families that they brought to the Tower. Events ensure that Androl ends up having his way.

Emarin notices Androl’s slip when he speaks of the Knoks rebellion. He is observant, but so is Androl, who has deduced that Emarin is using his brother’s name and is Lord Algarin of House Pendaloan. Like Androl’s family, the Pendaloans have the genes for channelling in their family. While the reader might assume that there are also female channellers as well as male ones in such a family, we often don’t see both genders of channellers in the one family. The inheritance is therefore probably separate and sex-linked (which makes sense, considering the two Powers are gender specific.) Halima/Arangar, the only woman able to channel saidin, is an unnatural creation of the Dark One, and an example of Wrongness. Algarin/Emarin is very unusual in judging people by merit and not background, and (mostly) respecting Aes Sedai—especially for a Tairen High Lord.

Androl sees this time as a test for the Asha’man to prove their fitness for self-governance and independence. They can’t run to others and yet demand to be their own people. Most of Logain's faction are resentful that Rand has not come to the Black Tower but not Androl. Rand has got other things to do, but the Black Tower was a very important thing and Rand was blind on this and distracted by the Shadow.

Pevara explains that people are being Turned to the Shadow. She sees the Black Tower as fallen under the Shadow’s influence. (Little does she know the degree to which the White Tower was run by the Shadow.) Androl wants to overthrow that influence and make the Black Tower a refuge, a positive place for male channellers—something that Pevara hasn’t really considered should happen.

Androl points out that evil people don’t inspire loyalty only self-interested allies, which gives them an advantage. He is a reluctant leader and looks on his role as temporary until Logain returns. In his opinion, the Asha’man all belong to the Black Tower, not any one person.

Regarding forcibly freeing the Black Tower from the Shadow, Androl doubts that Aes Sedai can fight well due to lack of experience. This is a reasonable inference, although the Reds and Greens do practise. The White Tower has not been that peaceable in the last years—although Pevara will not admit to any fighting among Aes Sedai. However, the sisters have battled Darkfriends and Shadowspawn less than they might. Androl also points out that Asha’man will ally with Taim to fight off Aes Sedai if sisters try to play a large part.

Moghedien POV

The final scene of the Prologue is the Forsaken meeting in a locale controlled by the Nae’blis. Moridin likes to confound as well as intimidate, and so his little world has floating stone, a breeze that doesn’t ripple the water surface, and burning water. The dream shard is attached to Tel’aran’rhiod, yet is unaffected by it. This is consistent with Ishamael’s books on reality and meaning (Analysis of Perceived Meaning, Reality and the Absence of Meaning, and The Disassembly of Reason) and also with his strategy of distracting the other Forsaken with his ‘crazy’ and alarming ideas.

Moghedien is subtle in her use of motifs and symbolism but still emphasises that she is not wearing livery. The wind with screams on it seems designed to disturb Moghedien by reminding her of her punishment. However, she is not fearful when Moridin threatens to give her mindtrap to Demandred and instead opportunistically tries to lower Demandred’s standing—but it doesn’t work. Demandred is strongly favoured currently.

The Spider thinks she wasn’t careful enough if she got mind-trapped. But doing nothing is also a move that results in disaster as often as success. Just a few moments ago, she was bolder, but Moridin’s warning of a return to captivity makes her fearful; fearful of losing her mindtrap that she holds. Does this foreshadow what happens when she is collared?

It turns out that Moghedien kept information back from Egwene, Nynaeve and Elayne. Knowledge in all its forms—correct, partial and corrupt—is an important theme of the books—see Knowledge essay.

The scene shows that both Demandred and Moridin are unbalanced now that the finale is upon them. Moridin is withdrawn and brooding – uncaring in evil. His efforts to destroy Rand’s soul have backfired and he is despairing and tired of his greatly prolonged life. Demandred is obsessed with achieving personal triumph and “satisfaction” over Rand.

However, obsessed or no, Demandred is more observant than Moghedien, who also has changed. She is crushed, and overwhelmed to a degree, and missing things. It was only through Demandred that she noticed the sea is full of people—souls—being tortured. Moridin/Ishamael is always surrounded by such torture and pain. Moghedien is glad to see someone worse off than her. Is that why the Forsaken surround themselves with suffering? Blinded by ambition to be higher than everyone else, and yet they gloat over seeing people in the worst states. So petty and vulnerable to punishment.

No one knows what Demandred is up to—except Moridin probably. In turn, Demandred is probing Moridin, watching for weakness. Moridin killed Lanfear to free her from Sindhol (which is the name of a world, not of the creatures who live there).

As Hessalam, Graendal is hideous. Literally a monster, Graendal the man-eating bewitcher has now become Grendel the monster of legend, (see Graendal article). Moghedien gloats over this, but envies Hessalam’s strength in the Power. She recognises Graendal by her tone and body language and enjoys the irony of Graendal’s ugly state. She feels Graendal got her just desserts and that Graendal, despite her power and abilities, is no longer above her:

Moghedien almost chortled with glee. Graendal had always used her looks as a bludgeon. Well, now they were a bludgeon of a different type. How perfect! The woman must be positively writhing inside. What had she done to earn such a punishment? Graendal's stature—her authority, the myths told about her—were all linked to her beauty. What now? Would she have to start searching for the most horrid people alive to keep as pets, the only ones who could compete with her ugliness?

This time, Moghedien did laugh. A quiet laugh, but Graendal heard. The woman shot her a glare that could have set a section of the ocean aflame all on its own.

Moghedien returned a calm gaze, feeling more confident now. She resisted the urge to stroke the cour'souvra. Bring what you will, Graendal, she thought. We are on level footing now. We shall see who ends this race ahead.

A Memory of Light, Prologue

It is hard to say who ended the race ahead. Graendal would be the happier of the two, although as mindless as all those she enslaved, while Moghedien has her mind, but is unfree. Who is better off? For Graendal, ignorance is bliss. Moghedien has hope of escape, but maybe not much chance. The point is that neither won.

Finally we get to the ostensible point of this meeting: Taim has been raised to Chosen. He will be known by his self-adopted title of M’Hael, which means leader and is a reference to Hitler’s title of Der Fuhrer and also to St Michael who leads a host against the Dragon at Armageddon (see Names of the Shadow). Moridin introduces him formally to force the other Forsaken to accept M’Hael’s rise and status and also to point out his successes and their failures.

Speaking of failures, Moghedien is resentful that Moridin has not been punished for his failures and his need to be rescued. The difference is that Ishamael died serving the Dark One, though, not serving himself.

Moghedien feels insulted at having to assist Demandred by watching over one of the armies (Seanchan) and even more when she is threatened by Moridin in front of the others.

Fun in the Last Days. Moridin’s meeting parallels Rand’s meeting in a couple of chapters’ time. Both are having unity problems.

Monday, October 26, 2015

A Memory of Light Read-Through #2: Prologue— Talmanes, Egeanin and Aviendha POVs

By Linda

Talmanes POVS 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12

Talmanes has a series of POVs interspersed among the other Prologue POVs to maintain suspense. They are glimpses of the trials Talmanes and the Band went through to save the dragons—and also many Andorans. At first they coerced mercenaries to help them secure a corridor to the western city gate through which the refugees could leave the city, but when this was cut off by the Trollocs, as expected, Talmanes persuaded Guybon to order his troops to leave the Palace and help them protect the southern gate for refugees.

Once Talmanes might not have shown concern for the ordinary folk—peasants or labourers—but Mat has had a positive influence on him: he is more socially responsible and caring, and less arrogant. Talmanes admires Mat for caring as well as being a brilliant general:

There was a softness to the man equal to his genius—an odd, but inspiring, combination.

A Memory of Light, Prologue

Mat the trickster is a social anomaly, refusing to be pigeonholed or have his behaviour limited, which is why Talmanes:

still didn't rightly know whether to think of Mat as a lord or not.

A Memory of Light, Prologue

Despite having the worst sort of Thakandar blade wound, Talmanes remained focussed on saving the dragons, and kills a second a second Myrddraal that was complacent—not knowing that Talmanes had nothing left to lose. His action saved his troops because they would never have been able to eliminate all the Trollocs it was linked to.

The Band overcame tremendous odds to reach the dragons but Aludra criticised them for taking so long to help her. She is sarcastic to Talmanes, so he returns the favour:

"This, it is a new revelation to you?" Aludra asked. "As if I haven't been trying to do that very thing. Your face, what is wrong with it?"

"I once ate a rather sharp cheese, and it has never quite sat right with me."… "What about my face?" Talmanes raised a hand to his cheek. Blood. The Myrddraal. Right. "Just a cut."…

"More Trollocs, my Lord. Lots of them! They're filling in behind us."

"Lovely. Set the table. I hope we have enough dinnerware. I knew we should have sent the maid for that five thousand seven hundred and thirty-first set."

"Are you . . . feeling all right?" Aludra asked.

"Blood and bloody ashes, woman, do I look like I'm feeling well? Guybon! Retreat is cut off. How far from the east gates are we?"

A Memory of Light, Prologue

It turns out that he likes being cryptically sarcastic and ironic; he has a subtle, dry humour.

Maybe if I smiled more when I made jokes, he thought idly, leaning against the side of the barricade. Then they'd understand what I meant. That, of course, raised the question: Did he want people to understand? It was often more amusing the other way. Besides, smiling was so garish. Where was the subtlety?

A Memory of Light, Prologue

Talmanes laughed hysterically at the irony of the situation, to the surprise of the others, who see no graveyard humour, only tragedy. He laughs up his sleeve at people, enjoying fooling them, showing that he is an ideal companion for a trickster. It’s a sign of his dire straits that he is more open than usual, and our opinion of him changes as a result. These are his first POV in the series. Disconcerted by this, Aludra starts stating the obvious, after she criticised Talmanes for it, so Talmanes got his own back.

It was a mercy in more ways than one that Talmanes refused the offer of a mercy killing because he then thinks of a way to escape the Trollocs while the others are defeatist. A further step in his “nothing left to lose” situation is that the pain is no longer growing because the taint has consumed him already. With the Trollocs waiting to rush in and seize the dragons, Aludra offers to destroy them. Talmanes realises that they can use most of the dragons to kill the Trollocs and the rest to blast a hole in the wall on the other side of the square to escape.

Egeanin POV

Egeanin intends Bayle to stick to the law, to reform him. Bayle wants to go off away from the conflict, but she is going to give information and help—offer herself—to Nynaeve and Elayne to stave off depression and loss of identity and redeem her honour after being demoted. She has not explained this even to Bayle until now.

She might be Shipless, but she would not let herself slip into the depths and drown.

A Memory of Light, Prologue

Egeanin is also very distressed about sul’dam being able to learn to channel, and that Seanchan power is therefore built on a lie. The Seanchan Empire has lost honour in Egeanin’s eyes; but the Empress rationalises this away by emphasising the difference between innate ability and usage, and learned ability—the power of choice. Yet events can force even a sul’dam into channelling despite her previous intentions, as Bethamin shows in Knife of Dreams, A Cold Medallion. It’s a very thin line. (The Aiel also live a lie: as to their origins and the oaths they forsook.)

Now, months after she had discovered the truth, her mind could not encompass all of the implications. Another might have been more interested in the political advantage; another might have returned to Seanchan and used this to gain power. Almost, Leilwin wished she had done that. Almost.

But the pleas of the sul'dam . . . growing to know those Aes Sedai, who were nothing like what she'd been taught . . .

A Memory of Light, Prologue

While Egeanin has spent a lot of time worrying about this, she has been oblivious to the consequences of her surrender of the male a’dam to the Seanchan. Nynaeve’s chastisement is a rude awakening. She determines that with this extreme loss of honour further penance is warranted: she must be da’covale to the Amyrlin. Killing herself would be too easy a way out.

"Yes," Leilwin said softly. She understood now. "I regret breaking my oath, but—"

"You regret it, Egeanin?" Nynaeve said, standing, knocking her chair back. "'Regret' is not a word I would use for endangering the world itself, bringing us to the brink of darkness and all but shoving us over the edge! She had copies of that device made, woman. One ended up around the neck of the Dragon Reborn. The Dragon Reborn himself, controlled by one of the Forsaken!"

Nynaeve flung her hands into the air. "Light! We were heartbeats from the end, because of you. The end of everything. No more Pattern, no more world, nothing. Millions of lives could have winked out because of your carelessness."

"I . . ." Leilwin's failures seemed monumental, suddenly. Her life, lost. Her very name, lost. Her ship, stripped from her by the Daughter of the Nine Moons herself. All were immaterial in light of this.

A Memory of Light, Prologue

Aviendha POV

Aviendha is not reprimanded for breaking the taboo of the glass columns ter’angreal and entering it twice. Instead, the Wise Ones steel themselves for the added burden of the Aiel being at risk of degenerating and being ruined.

Bair has faith that the columns work to help the Aiel and that the future they show must therefore be able to be changed. She thinks the visions are a warning rather than irrevocable fate. Sorilea says this is irrelevant because they must try to change it regardless. Nor does the vision mean that the Last Battle will be won, because if it is lost, the Dark One breaks the Pattern and all prophecy is void.

Aviendha realises that the Merrilor meeting, where Rand will make demands of the other allied nations, but not the Aiel, is pivotal to the Aiel’s future. Also that regardless of whether Rand did or did not include the Aiel in his Bargain, the Wise Ones would feel insulted.

To give the Aiel an exemption from his price—if, indeed, that was what he intended—was an act of honor. If he had made a demand of them with the others, these very Wise Ones might have taken offense at being lumped with the wetlanders.

A Memory of Light, Prologue

Aviendha rightly thinks the most important task she will ever do is prevent the Aiel’s road to ruin. But this depends on seeing her children raised better. These are things she would never have known if she had not attempted to ‘read’ the glass columns ter’angreal.

The Wise Ones are pleased that Rand accepts his destiny—has embraced death—and believe that his sacrifice should not be undervalued by the Wetlanders; that it is acceptable for him to demand the nations to follow his wishes in exchange. The Aiel have truly followed Rand—even when they thought his commands or plans foolish—but most of the other nations, on the whole, have not, due to division or scheming or distraction.

Bair takes it upon herself to validate Aviendha’s vision. She feels that she is more expendable because she is not a channeller, and yet also very experienced and strong.

Aviendha asks Bair if she knows of a Nakomi. Bair says Nakomi is an ancient name (see Character Names N). It is a reference to the Song of Hiawatha, and so is part of Jordan’s premise that our history becomes the Wheel of Time world myth and vice versa.

Regarding names, Bair recommends that Aviendha change one of her children’s names and never speak of the former name to anyone as a way to change the vision the glass columns showed. (Aviendha is not even pregnant yet, but no one doubts the prophetic visions—and nor does the reader.) Bair is determined to change the Aiel’s future and Aviendha sees this is a good and meaningful way to do it. This scene refers to the traditional belief in the power of names.