Thursday, April 7, 2016

A Memory of Light Read-Through #9: Chapter 6—A Knack

By Linda

Perrin POV

Egwene and Rand’s spat went on long enough for Moiraine to arrive and gauge the meeting.

Perrin’s positive thoughts are really noticeable after Egwene’s negativity in the last chapter. For instance, he is proud and impressed that Mat freed Moiraine. When he sees Mat riding through the countryside, he wonders where Mat is going—to Ebou Dar, as it happens—but doesn’t judge. With his abilities, Perrin’s POVs represent truth or accuracy in a situation. Perrin is likely the most reliable of the narrators.

Rand is stunned into disbelief that Moiraine is back. She gives a philosophical explanation as she has so often in the past: “The Wheel weaves as the Wheel wills”. But then, Nynaeve and Min are also shocked. Min had given up on her viewing that Moiraine still had essential deeds to accomplish:

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

—and now Moiraine is about to do one of these essential deeds.

Egwene gives Moiraine a formal greeting as Amyrlin, which Moiraine doesn’t take very seriously. Moiraine has less strength in saidar than previously—which means by tradition she should have been much meeker around the Amyrlin—but more in everything else. She points out that she gets credit for discovering the Amyrlin, and by implication reminds Egwene that she owes a lot to Moiraine. Then Nynaeve, in turn, shocked Moiraine by hugging her. Moiraine is not used to physical demonstrations in public, and has typical Cairhienin reserve. Nynaeve has very mixed feelings about Moiraine, but from this point on, the two women work together quite well.

Darlin may be thoughtful at Moiraine’s return because his wife-to-be is Moiraine’s cousin. Also he maybe have heard of things about her from Caraline.

Egwene informs Moiraine—complains, really—that Rand is exacting a price for his sacrifice. She puts a negative spin on it, as she did all the previous chapter. After reading the treaty herself, Moiraine responds by quoting the Karaethon Cycle, including prophecies already fulfilled that she relates in a new way. When Egwene and Gregorin protest Rand’s conditions and plans, she counters them with prophecy.

"'He shall slay his people with the sword of peace,' " Moiraine said, " 'and destroy them with the leaf.'…'The unstained tower breaks and bends knee to the forgotten sign . . .' "

A Memory of Light, A Knack

The first prophecy was about Rand breaking the Aiel, but now also the other nations, with peace. Rand’s peace is twofold: that from victory over the Shadow certainly had a lot of bloodshed, but that between the nations will hugely alter the Aiel and Seanchan, if not the other nations. In the second prophecy quoted above, the White Tower will bow to Rand and his wishes more than once. Not what Egwene wanted to hear. Moiraine doesn’t perhaps yet know the full story of the aftermath of Dumai’s Wells, but we do.

A few people offer Rand constructive criticism. Saerin is complimentary about the treaty, but says the Seanchan need to be included in it. Elayne notices the lack of any conflict resolution procedure. Both are sensible points. The treaty will be void if the Empress does not sign. Then Aviendha says that the Aiel must be included in the peace, which is quite ironic considering other nations are complaining about being pressured into it. Quite a few rulers want to expand their nations at the expense of others. Perrin sees that the Aiel could be the enforcers of the peace, since they need to be doing purposeful things. Other nations think that the Aiel can be manipulated their way.

Rhuarc fears this will be an end to the Aiel. Rand says it is a beginning. Privately, however, he remembers what Aviendha told him; that some Aiel believed that Rand would completely destroy the Aiel:

". . . your dream now . . . when you wake from this life, we will be no more . . ."

-A Memory of Light, A Knack

As mediators of peace—sworn to be via the treaty—they will have a variation of their old role in the Age of Legends, serving and helping the Dragon.

Cadsuane is very approving. So is Elayne.

Moiraine makes Rand see that he can’t oversee the battles. He has the wrong attitude for winning military battles. Rand is against the Amyrlin being the general—and Egwene doesn’t protest this, even though it was her aim to win this role for the Tower. Moiraine seems to have made her reconsider. Moiraine then tells Egwene that she will break the Seals, and leads her to understand her dream of Rand walking to Shayol Ghul on shards (of the Dark One’s prison):

Him walking toward a burning mountain, something crunching beneath his boots. She stirred and whimpered; the crunching things were the seals on the Dark One's prison, shattering with his every step.

-Lord Of Chaos, A Pile of Sand

The shards are the broken Seals—that “what men made shall be shattered”. Moiraine makes Rand give the Seals to Egwene and Egwene promise that she will break them.

As an Accepted, Moiraine studied philosophy, and she really shows this in this chapter. Perrin doesn’t follow Moiraine’s philosophy of trusting the Pattern to make things happen right. He believes in making his own way, and not relying on the Pattern. For all that wolves are supposed to be fatalistic, Perrin isn’t:

Moiraine always had believed in following the weave of the Pattern and bowing to the Wheel's turnings. Perrin didn't see it that way. He figured you made your own path, and trusted in your own arms to do what needed to be done. The Pattern wasn't a thing to depend on.

A Memory of Light, A Knack

Perrin has been far less trusting of the Pattern since he learned how the good and bad were mixed within it. In his eyes this made it far from a masterwork, and therefore not to be relied upon.

Rand gets Egwene to sign first. Faile sees that Rand brought all who supported him, and relied on Egwene to bring and unite the waverers and outright opponents. Then he only had to get her to sign—and the rest had to follow. Elayne is the last to sign and Rand gives her the leadership of the armies as an incentive.

Faile then wonders about the damane the Seanchan have taken and the nations also. Rand considers damaging their forces if they don’t sign—yet all will be needed in the Last Battle. Of course the Empress considered not participating in Tarmon Gaidon and standing aside to take advantage of the weakened world after. This is selfish and short-sighted, since the Seanchan’s participation ensured victory.

The mainlanders assume the Empress will hold to the treaty if she signs it. For all that other Seanchan take pride in honouring all oaths they take, Fortuona signed and then considered breaking the treaty. Mat was the one who insisted she keep her oath and shamed her into it.

Rand decides publicly that he will allow the Seanchan the captives that they have taken because they have done good with the bad. Balance.

Rand asks that the generals send some forces to save Lan’s army first. This is the reverse of his dark pronouncements that he would let Lan distract the Shadow and strike elsewhere without sending any forces to aid Lan.


Lan is pleased that Kaisel of Kandor accepts the realistic outcome of their battle. The Malkieri are proud to go down in one last charge.

Lan realises that everyone deserves the choice of fighting for the Light. Like Rand, Lan did not want the responsibility of leading others to their deaths. He never learned how to bear the responsibilities of kingship in practise by watching his parents. Compare this with Faile instructing Perrin:

"Perrin, my father says a general can take care of the living or weep for the dead, but he cannot do both."
"I am not a general, Faile. I am a fool of a blacksmith who thought he could use other people to help him get justice, or maybe revenge. I still want it, but I don't want to use anyone else for it any longer."
"Do you think the Trollocs will go away because you decide your motives are not pure enough?" The heat in her voice made him raise his head, but she pushed it back to the pillow almost roughly. "Are they any less vile? Do you need a purer reason to fight them than what they are? Another thing my father says. The worst sin a general can commit, worse than blundering, worse than losing, worse than anything, is to desert the men who depend on him."

The Shadow Rising, Among the Tu’atha’an

Part of the compact between noble and commoner, ingrained in Faile from her birth, was that nobles provided safety and security. And a part of giving security was to remind people that evil times were not forever. If today was bad, then tomorrow would be better, and if not tomorrow, then the day after. She wished she could be certain of that herself, but she had been taught to give those under her strength even when she had none herself, to soothe their fears, not infect them with her own.

Lord of Chaos, Prologue

Lan knows he must be responsible for his soldiers; he just didn’t want to have any soldiers with him to be responsible for.

By pulling slowly out of the Gap, Lan’s forces unknowingly enabled their reinforcements to join them very easily. The timing is perfect. The Wheel weaves.

Lan never had conventional childhood and development and had not previously sworn the Malkieri oath to defend. Andere insists Lan show pleasure at their rescue and victory and he laughs. Rarely, if ever, has Lan laughed in the series until now. It’s nice to end a chapter with joy.

Monday, March 7, 2016

A Memory of Light Read-Through #8: Chapter 5—To Require a Boon

By Linda

Rand POV

At the start of a momentous day, Rand reaches out and feels the Land:

He could feel it, the land itself, like a faint Warder bond. Beneath his feet, grubs crawled through the soil. The roots of the grasses continued to spread, ever so slowly, seeking nutrients. The skeletal trees were not dead, for water seeped through them. They slumbered. Bluebirds clustered in a nearby tree. They did not call out with the arrival of dawn. They huddled together as if for warmth.
The land still lived…
He could hear the land breathing, could sense a beetle on a leaf half a league away…

A Memory of Light, To Require a Boon

His perspective and understanding has widened:

"Thank you," he said, fetching a towel and tossing it to her. "You would consider most of what we did during the Age of Legends to be crackbrained and irresponsible. That was a different time, Aviendha. There were many more channelers, and we were trained from a young age. We didn't need to know things like warfare, or how to kill. We had eliminated pain, hunger, suffering, war. Instead, we used the One Power for things that might seem common… We wanted our lives to be perfect, so we ignored imperfections. Problems were magnified through inattention, and war might have become inevitable if the Bore hadn't ever been made.”

A Memory of Light, To Require a Boon

The good centuries of the Age of Legends—the paradise—were paid for by hundred years of Collapse, ten years of word war and over three hundred years of Breaking. Rand thinks it was worth it. I’m not sure that it was.

The opening of the Bore just accelerated problems that were already in society. While knowing this, Rand is still not thinking of how to defuse conflict and handle disagreements. Rand may be poor at this, because he expects people to either see issues the way he does or behave the way he does. This is a lead-in to Merrilor, where the flaws in Rand’s treaty are quickly revealed and he gets entangled in countering Egwene.

Rand asks Aviendha what is wrong but she diverts him skilfully enough that he doesn’t notice. However, she does refer indirectly to what is worrying her—the terrible risk of the Aiel decaying—by trying to do something about it. She warns him that she will ask for a boon at the meeting, although she doesn’t know what it will be, just that she believes it will be important and will change his plans. Aviendha plays fair—Rand implies that he will/would grant whatever it is, but she doesn’t want that. Always merit and fairness with Aviendha.

Egwene’s POV

Prophetic dreams are disturbing Egwene’s sleep. In her dream, the cracking world is the breaking up of reality as a result of balefire, and the cords lashing it together are the flame of Tar Valon weave that Egwene will create. This weave is not in her mind at this stage; she still thinks balefire is invincible.

The frozen pillar of glass that almost seems like a column of light is the crystal pillar created as she died, a physical manifestation of the Light from her soul and her weave.

Not surprisingly, Egwene is annoyed at Gawyn reading her mail from Elayne. He also insisted she sleep in White Tower in bed because she was exhausted. It was a ruse to avoid assassination attempts in Merrilor as well as to get better rest. Egwene is much more accepting of these precautions after the Seanchan attack.

One positive thing that she does in this chapter is order all sisters strong enough to provide Healing and gateways for Andor. The Tower is finally helping nations properly, as Egwene takes a leaf out of Tamra’s book.

Egwene doesn’t dare arrive late at Merrilor because while she isn’t there Rand would persuade rulers to accept that he will break the Seals. She goes expecting to combat him. She also expects that the forces Rand has summoned will fight each other without her intervention. In fact, she stirred them up.

Did Rand realize what he'd done here? Putting soldiers together like this, leaving them edgy and uncertain, was like tossing a handful of fireworks into a stewpot and setting it onto the stove. Eventually, things were going to start exploding.
Egwene needed to manage the chaos. She strode out of her tent, Gawyn a step behind and to her left, and smoothed her face. The world needed an Amyrlin…
Best to be quick. Her presence would calm the rulers, perhaps prevent problems. They wouldn't like being near so many Aiel.

A Memory of Light, To Require a Boon

I think she exaggerates her influence on the rulers. "The world needed an Amyrlin”—the Amrylin the world needs doesn’t have to be Egwene. For all that Egwene is jealous of her prerogatives, there is always another Aes Sedai suitable to be Amyrlin. Not so for the Dragon. It’s rather a prophetic phrase in itself, considering that she will be dead before the end of the Last Battle after making a far greater contribution than she does here. This scene is not her finest hour by any means. She is at her best in battle, be it against the Seanchan or the Shadow, and her antagonistic attitude causes problems here.

Egwene tallied up everybody for who they will support. In spite of herself, she is finally acknowledging the importance of the meeting that was Rand’s initiative. Nevertheless, her belief in the superiority of the Tower—and the Amyrlin—is total.

Darlin also wonders if the meeting is going to be disastrous:

"Some old rivalries run deeper than the ocean's depths, Mother. I can almost wonder if this meeting was the work of the Dark One, hoping that we would end up destroying one another and doing his work for him."

A Memory of Light, To Require a Boon

The Shadow would not take the risk, particularly with having two of the three ta’veren in one place. When it last happened—in Towers of Midnight—Perrin could feel a sense of rightness.

Egwene anticipates that Rand would want to direct the forces personally in the Last Battle, but his battle will be with the Dark One—and on a spiritual level—and he will be fully occupied. At this point in the scene, Egwene intends to have the Tower “acknowledged as leading the collective forces against Shadow”, but she doesn’t personally push for this in the meeting. I guess she wants other rulers to suggest it, otherwise it looks like a cheap power grab.

Egwene remarks on how Rand has grown in confidence and cunning. So has she. She doesn’t see this as bad if he can be reasoned with. The same applies for Egwene. This is why a third party—Moiraine—is needed to mediate.

Rand makes grass grow as he walks along, restoring health to the Land locally (by singing under his breath) to remind them of his role. And induce awe. He will do the same to the Empress. The erection of the tent showcases his channelling ability.

Egwene pauses to score a small victory over Roedran before entering the tent and the fray:

All understood that this confrontation was, at its core, between Rand and Egwene. Or, rather, the Dragon and the Amyrlin Seat.

A Memory of Light, To Require a Boon

I wonder if Cadsuane intended to step up if Moiraine had not?

Egwene assumes that Rand’s politeness is not genuine. She is quite a sour-puss at Elayne’s pride in Rand. Her own respect for him is very grudging. (As was Cadsuane’s when Rand met the Borderlanders in Towers of Midnight, A Testing).

Rand also allows entry to, and nods in respect to, Cadsuane, as though she is an alternative Amyrlin. She is to Wise Ones also—and to the Sea Folk. She has held herself apart from the White Tower conflict, although that would not have saved the Tower from the Seanchan. We never see her meet Egwene, or comment on the Seanchan attack.

Egwene reads Perrin as worried, but trusting Rand. Perrin knows what Rand intends—especially with the Seals—and agrees with it. His worry is about how the meeting will go, and the mood of the people there.

Rand’s quizzing of Roedran is a nod to fans’ theory that Roedran was Demandred. It was popular, but incorrect. When Rand asks “where are you?” he is wondering aloud about Demandred’s whereabouts. It turns out to be a very good question.

Rand points out what went wrong in the War of Power and how they are not as skilled or well-equipped as the Age of Legends was. Very tellingly he looks at Egwene when he says that everyone fancied themselves a general. (In fact, she was planning to claim this position for the Tower, as he suspected.) He also doesn’t want nations fighting each other the moment the war is over. Egwene diverts attention away from the rulers at this point by saying that Rand is over-stepping himself, and he should let events play out and not “bend the world to your whims.” She suggests that he would be a tyrant. Yet Amyrlins and Tower have behaved in this fashion for centuries. It’s a fine hypocrisy. Her language is very negative here.

Rand is not expected to survive, so it would be a bit hard to be tyrannical after the Last Battle. Plus Egwene has suborned to her cause two leaders who owe Rand their positions if not their fealty, without him objecting. Hardly what a tyrant would countenance. Rand answers her digs in a positive manner with an actual, concrete treaty. The Aes Sedai are “troubled” because they have lost the initiative and been side-stepped. It is more difficult to counter something so definite and formed at short notice. Egwene dismisses Rand’s conditions as foolishness.

The Amyrlin claims to be the Watcher over the Seals when she didn’t know where they were. Yet the remaining Seals are in Rand’s possession, so Watcher appears to be an empty title. Rand says that he approached her about the Seals. She disputes this because he made neither request nor demand but told her what he was going to do with them. He implies it was as much as she was entitled to, possibly more, considering that he possesses them, while she knew nothing of their location.

Egwene thinks his plan to break the Seals to remake the seal on the Dark One’s prison anew is too risky; he thinks it is worth it. I suspect that similar arguments would have been made regarding using the Choedan Kal to cleanse the taint. Low-ranking Aes Sedai quizzed him on it, but acceded to his arguments. Again, using the Choedan Kal was something that Cadsuane did not argue against. Like Moiraine, Cadsuane has tended to let Rand run free, trusting in the Pattern to arrange for him to do what he should. What they both tried to influence was his sanity and how he related to others.

Egwene would reprise patching the Bore as a “safer” plan. It’s Latra Posae versus Lews Therin again. Two immovable sides need a third for resolution. In the Age of Legends, opening the bore did not directly and immediately damage reality, so claiming that shattering the Seals would destroy the world is alarmist. Likewise, using the Choedan Kal was wrongly believed would crack the world like an egg.

What would be disastrous for the world is exactly what Egwene wants—repatching the prison as per before. I wonder if she would be so sanguine if saidar was at risk. She has been reading Aes Sedai writings on the Bore and says that White Tower was founded in part to prevent the bore being re-opened. They would fall afoul of the law of diminishing returns if they follow Egwene’s plan of patching the patch. It is likely that the Dark One would make the taint again, but Egwene says they’d be ready for that. However, they would not be adequately prepared since the Choedan Kal were needed to remove the taint. These sa’angreal were made before the taint and no longer exist.

Rand takes a leaf out of Egwene’s book and accuses Egwene of promoting the re-tainting of saidin because male channellers undermine her authority. Basically he is accusing her of being sexist. Her thoughts do back his claim that she is sexist.

Then he completely appals her by saying that he wants to kill the Dark One. When he told Aviendha this, she considered it carefully as a reasonable tactic. Egwene exclaims that Rand’s insane and he says, yes, that was the price to be the Dragon—to fight the Dark One you have to be mad. Egwene says that he should be guided by the White Tower. He counters that they guided him by beating him and locking him in a box. There is no answer to that. Just as when Egwene repudiates the Empress because of her inhumane treatment as a damane. The Empress felt she lost face talking to an escaped slave, but to the reader she lost face by lying. As the Aiel declared, the Aes Sedai had no honour after their embassy violated parley to capture and torture Rand.

The treaty appears to be quite a good and robust document because Galad announces that the Whitecloaks will sign it, and the Sea Folk were impressed with it. It needs to cover two more nations, though.

Many rulers say that the Borderlanders are desperate and therefore their judgment is poor. They don’t seem to realise this will be them in a matter of weeks if they don’t unite and fight. The southerners want the Seanchan dealt with more urgently than the Trollocs. (Some don’t really believe in Shadowspawn.)

Egwene thinks that Rand is like an Aes Sedai in being angry but showing calmness. She is about to “take control of the meeting” when she notices that it is getting dark. Great Trees are growing outside either by the Land, or Rand himself, as a way of making them feel awe at him. The loss of light makes the attendees uncertain enough to quieten down. It is also symbolic that the nations are losing their way, lost in the dark of ambition.

On the whole, the rulers feel that the bargain is one-sided—that they are giving up too much for salvation. Rand says that they have no choice. Egwene feels Rand’s force of will swaying them and protests. She calls his bluff. Rand feels that always female channellers are against him. Egwene is jealous of the White Tower’s privileges but the Aes Sedai have done little in recent decades to deserve such. Many others have done far more. The Aes Sedai are leaning on past glories like idle aristocrats. It is those Aes Sedai who have left the Tower who have done good work for Rand and the nations—Cadsuane, Nynaeve, Pevara, Verin, Moiraine and Elayne, for instance. This was the Shadow’s tactic, but the Tower succumbed to it the most.

At this point, Egwene becomes uncertain and fears that she is going too far. In fact, she and Rand both privately feel this way.

Egwene is unlikeable in this chapter with barely a pleasant thought for most people in the tent. This is quite a contrast to Perrin’s POV in the next chapter. For example, Egwene thinks Elayne besotted and is very judgmental of Berelain. While Berelain’s behaviour to Perrin and Faile was very poor, Egwene does not know the full extent of it and had this attitude to Berelain in Tear (where Berelain pursued Rand for a while for political reasons). She could never understand the Wise Ones’ good opinion of Berelain.

Rand says his sacrifice must be willing. True. It must be his free choice—a willing martyrdom. Otherwise it is an execution-type sacrifice, more suited to the Shadow than the Light.

The Sea Folk think it’s reasonable that people do something for the Dragon in exchange for what he will do for them. The rulers take him for granted, even behaving like he’s not really necessary. Or irreplaceable. Elaida took it for granted that Rand would not do his duty—his role—unless forced. (The nobles, and Elaida herself, are the ones who qualify for this). Egwene takes it for granted that Rand will have the wrong idea about the Last Battle and needs her to take charge. She has not been there when he did his great deeds—often, she was captive or being rescued at the time. Egwene tends to underestimate her other friends. She abuses him and he her. It’s quite a relief when Moiraine enters.

To sum up and check Egwene’s superior judgment on Rand’s conditions:

The treaty is untenable—actually it is a very good idea but is imperfect as yet until the Aiel and Seanchan are included. Draw.
Rand should not lead the Last Battle—Egwene is correct on this.
The Seals should not be broken; patch the patch instead— Egwene is wrong.

50%. Not a super score.

With Moiraine’s encouragement of some re-thinking and cooperation, we get a better result.

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.