Thursday, August 13, 2015

Wheel of Time Music - Regional and Cultural Variation



By Linda


National and Ethic Musical Styles

There is a lot of commonality between music of one region and another, especially in the inns due to the cultural mixing there, but a few nations or groups have some distinctive features in their music.


Earlier times

There’s a saying that the past is another country because they do things differently there, so let’s start with a look at historical styles.

Two musical devices survived from the Age of Legends:

A small music box sat on the marble mantelpiece, producing from its memory the soft strains of a sound-sculpture that very likely had not been heard outside this room in well over three thousand years.

Lord of Chaos,To Understand a Message


And a small red and green striped ivory box ter’angreal that contains hundreds, even thousands, of stored tunes (Knife of Dreams, A Different Skill). One device with only one “voice” and another with thousands.

Also from the Age of Legends is the tune Lament for the Long Night, which Rand played on the flute from Lews Therin’s memories (Winter’s Heart, Bonds). Asmodean performed The March of Death on the harp, which is the final movement of The Grand Passions Cycle, a work composed some three hundred years before the War of Power by an unnamed composer (The Fires of Heaven, Pale Shadows).

Early in the Third Age, the city of Londaren Cor in Eharon had a Procession of Flutes during the Blessing of the Swords. In the soldiers’ taverns of the city, veiled dancers moved sinuously (Knife of Dreams, A Stave and a Razor).

New Era

Aes Sedai

The Aes Sedai have massed trumpets and drums in their military and civic processions (The Eye of the World, Weaving of the Web) to impress onlookers. Within Tar Valon, there are street buskers playing flute or harp or pipes, sometimes with an acrobat or juggler (The Dragon Reborn, Tar Valon).

Aiel

Once they have taken up the spear, Aiel warrior men do not sing except for battle songs and laments for those killed in battle. Wash the Spears is one such battle song. Aiel battle songs are slow dance tunes played on pipes with voices chanting harmonies in parts. It follows that they call battle “the dance” (Glossary).

The pipes also play in a post-battle victory dance where the warriors leap up high from one foot, do acrobatics in the air, and land on the other foot (The Fires of Heaven, After the Storm). They are like Cossack dances.

One of Perrin’s captive Shaido sang a song to insult him. The man was a warrior, not gai’shain, but he sang:

“I once met a man who was far from home.
His eyes were yellow and his wits were stone.
He asked me to hold smoke in my hand,
and said he could show me a watery land.
He put his head in the ground and his feet in the air,
and said he could dance like a woman fair.
He said he could stand till he turned to stone.
When I blinked my eyes, he was gone.”

Crossroads of Twilight, What Must Be Done


The song was meant to insult, or taunt. The Aiel have strong Celtic influences, and the Celts practise flyting, the exchange of insults in verse. Perrin didn’t play along, however, he brought his axe down on the man’s wrist.

The Aiel holds have a gong by the door in each household to sound the alarm. In Cold Rocks Hold, the gong was a square bronze instrument which was hit with a leather-covered mallet (The Shadow Rising, Traps).

Altara

Altaran music is shrill and typically played at a fast tempo on flutes, dulcimers and drums (Lord of Chaos,The Wandering Woman and Winter’s Heart, An Offer). Mat thought it an “odd sort of music”. The nation has a Mediterranean flavour, and a dance in Ebou Dar that Mat described as half pattern dance, half jig, may be like the Italian Tarantella family of dances.

Amadicia

At the Amadician court, mixed ensembles played light music for outdoors gatherings (Lord of Chaos,Plans).

Andor

Andor has a national song, Forward the Lion (The Eye of the World, Weaving of the Web). It is the only national anthem that we know and shows that Andor’s strength as a nation has led to a more formal nationalism.

The Andoran court may be wealthy enough to own an advanced mechanical music player, since Elayne was familiar with music boxes that had changeable cylinders with extensive music libraries (Knife of Dreams, A Different Skill).

Cairhien

The attitude to music is very different in Cairhien. In this nation, it is a low status activity, as Moiraine indicates:

She cared little for music and less for whoever played the instruments; in Cairhien, musicians were hired and forgotten.

New Spring, An Answer


The upper classes do not play instruments – that is what their servants are for:

"My Lord, I had a man here who played the bittern, …Since my musician's gone, would you let your man favor us with a little music?"
Hurin looked embarrassed.
"He doesn't play," Rand explained. "I do."
The woman blinked. It appeared lords did not play the flute, at least not in Cairhien. "I withdraw the request, my Lord. Light's own truth, I meant no offense, I assure you. I'd never ask one such as yourself to be playing in a common room."

Cairhien The Great Hunt, The Nine Rings

“I even hear that you play the flute. Can it be true?"
"I play the flute… If you will excuse - "
"I have heard that some outland lords play music, but I never believed it.”

The Great Hunt, Dangerous Words


King Galldrian paid musicians to perform in the Foregate to keep the populace from rebellion and vandalism (The Great Hunt, Cairhien). At the same time, Barthanes Damodred hired almost as many at his manor to indicate his wealth and status:

There were many other rooms, all filled with lords and ladies, all with entertainers: three different gleemen in their cloaks, more jugglers and tumblers, and musicians playing flutes, bitterns, dulcimers, and lutes, plus five different sizes of fiddle, six kinds of horn, straight or curved or curled, and ten sizes of drum from tambour to kettle. He gave some of the horn players a second look, those with curled horns, but the instruments were all plain brass…
There was even a bard in silver-worked Tairen boots and a yellow coat, strolling through the rooms plucking his harp and sometimes stopping to declaim in High Chant. He glared contemptuously at the gleemen and did not linger in the rooms where they were, but Rand saw little difference between him and them except for their clothes.

The Great Hunt, Dangerous Words


The hiring of many performers shows wealth, but not necessarily taste. However, they do perform the practical task of covering up the scheming conversations.

Cairhien had a procession of giant puppets accompanied by drummers:

Half a dozen men, beating tambours and dancing, led the way for a string of huge puppets, each half again as tall as the men who worked them with long poles. Giant crowned figures of men and women in long, ornate robes bowed to the crowd amid the shapes of fanciful beasts. A lion with wings. A goat, walking on its hind legs, with two heads, both of which were apparently meant to be breathing fire, from the crimson streamers hanging from the two mouths.

The Great Hunt, Cairhien


The Chinese dragon dance procession has large puppets on poles. Cairhien has similarities with Japan, and the Japanese also have a dragon dance, but it is not widespread.

More recently, according to Elayne, performances with multiple players singing and acting out ballads and musical plays—opera--were developed in Cairhien and then spread to Andor. This is an extension of the casts of players (actors) we saw in The Great Hunt who were putting on plays in the Foregate.

A Cairhienin man played an instrument not seen elsewhere:

a skinny Cairhienin in a ragged coat was blowing something that looked part flute and part horn with some odd bits tossed in.

The Fires of Heaven, After the Storm


It may be a clarinet (developed in the 18th century) or a saxophone (invented a century later).

Murandy

Music in Lugarder inns is typical of inns elsewhere—flutes, tambour, bittern or zither—but with women performers dancing on a table in revealing clothing while singing bawdy songs (The Fires of Heaven, An Old Pipe and The Nine Horse Hitch).

Saldaea

The sa’sara is an erotic dance performed for a man by a Saldaean woman, although she is rather embarrassed to admit she knows it:

"You muscle-brained oaf!" she snapped, glaring up at him. "Men have thrown their hearts and fortunes at the feet of women who danced the sa'sara. If Mother suspected I knew it-" Her teeth clicked shut as though she had said too much, and her head whipped back to face forward; scarlet mortification covered her from her dark hair down to the neck of her dress.

The Shadow Rising, A Missing Leaf


Most spirited women from Saldaea probably learn the sa’sara, each thinking that few do so, and furthermore that their mothers surely never did. In the real world, the dance of the seven veils is likewise, legendarily erotic.

Apart from Rand, Faile is the only other noble we know who plays an instrument:

Could she [Berelain] ride in the hunt all day, then play the bittern at night while discussing how to counter Trolloc raids? [As Faile can.]

The Shadow Rising, Customs of Mayene


Seanchan

Some da’covale perform ballet-like poses or dance exercises solo or in groups while clad in a sheer white robe:

She took a hand from her cup to gesture, a slight movement of long fingernails, and the sharp-faced woman barked, "Thera! Poses of the Swan!"…
The serving woman rose from her place at the wall again, running out to the middle of the floor in an odd way, on tiptoe, with her arms swept back. Slowly, atop the flaring golden sun, symbol of the Children of the Light, she began a sort of stylized dance. Her arms unfolded to the sides like wings, then folded back.
Twisting, she slid her left foot out, lowering herself over the bending knee, both arms outstretched as if appealing, until arms and body and right leg made a straight, slanted line. Her sheer white robe made the whole thing scandalous. Morgase felt her cheeks growing hot as the dance, if it could be called that, continued.
"Thera is new and not well trained yet," Suroth murmured. "The Poses are most often done with ten or twenty da'covale together, men and women chosen for the clean beauty of their lines, but sometimes it is pleasant to view only one."

A Crown of Swords, The Irrevocable Words


The costume is reminiscent of Ancient Egyptian slave dancers but “poses of the Swan” and its dance movements may refer to the ballet Swan Lake.

Another type of Seanchan dancer, the Shea dancer wears a sheer veil, and very little more, according to Egeanin (The Shadow Rising, Hidden Faces).

Sea Folk

The Sea Folk have distinctive melancholy songs (The Great Hunt, Leavetakings).

Shara
Graendal’s Sharan slaves—former rulers—played

oddly elongated harps, with chimes that resonated to the plucked strings in crystalline echoes.

Lord of Chaos,Threads Woven of Shadow


The music they played was atonal and “full of complex harmonies and odd dissonances”. The Chinese konghou is an elongated harp, and Shara—home of silk—has similarities with China. While the ancient konghou is more elongated than the modern version, the modern konghou has each string supported by its own bridge, so that the player is able to bend the strings to create vibrato and sliding effects, possibly equivalent to the Sharan harp’s chimes.

Tear

The Tairen soldiers perform line dances in victory:

Not far from where he sat, a dozen Defenders of the Stone, stripped to sweaty shirtsleeves, were dancing to the claps of ten times as many watchers. In a line, with arms around each others’ shoulders, they stepped so quickly that it was a wonder none of them tripped or kicked the man next to them.

The Fires of Heaven, After the Storm


These line dances are similar to those from Greece. For instance, Thracian dances are very fast. Historically, some Greek line dances were performed to prepare for battle. Tear shows no other Greek characteristics (in fact they have Spanish, Moorish and South East Asian influences). Ironically, their hated rivals, the Illianers, have many Greek names.

An instrument seen in Tear and not elsewhere is the semseer, which appears to be a shrill bulbous wind instrument, perhaps like a shawm (The Shadow Rising, Rumours).

Tinkers

The Tinkers are portrayed as the people most fond of music and devoted to collecting it:

All the People seemed on the point of dancing, even when standing still, even during the rare times when there was no music in the camp. Fiddles and flutes, dulcimers and zithers and drums spun harmony and counterpoint around the wagons at almost any hour, in camp or on the move. Joyous songs, merry songs, laughing songs, sad songs; if someone was awake in the camp there was usually music.

The Eye of the World, The Travelling People


The Tuatha’an’s own national musical style is of sharp trilling songs (The Eye of the World, Shelter From the Shadow), but also slow songs to which the women dance the tiganza to drums and flute. The tiganza is the most erotic dance performed in public on the mainland. It is a type of belly dance. The name refers to tzigane, gypsy, the people the Tuatha'an are modelled on.

Not knowing what Song they search for, they collect all songs. The Tuatha’an epitomise music as the rhythm of life, and devotion to the cosmic dance of the Pattern:

They would dance right up until the day when the Pattern burned away, whether or not they found their song, whether or not Trollocs ravaged the world or the Dragon Reborn destroyed it.

The Gathering Storm, News in Tel’aran’rhiod


The Song

The Tinkers—Lost Ones, to the Aiel—search for the Song because they believe it will bring back what was—paradise—the peace and high standard of living of the Age of Legends: "As it was, so shall it be, if we but remember, seek, and find" (The Eye of the World, The Travelling People). The Aiel also believe that these times will come again—if they follow the Dragon Reborn:

It is prophesied that a child born of a Maiden will unite the clans and return the Aiel to the greatness they knew during the Age of Legends.

The Eye Of The World: Glossary, Far Dareis Mai

Prophecy says when the Stone of Tear falls, we will leave the Three-fold Land at last. It says we will be changed, and find again what was ours, and was lost."

The Dragon Reborn, A Different Dance


Both these groups descended from Da’shain Aiel, and both have unusual customs surrounding song–wandering endlessly for it or limiting singing.

Rand saw the Song, or Singing, in the glass column ter’angreal in Rhuidean:

The Ogier began it, as was fitting, standing to sing, great bass rumbles like the earth singing. The Aiel rose, men’s voices lifting in their own song, even the deepest at a higher pitch than the Ogier’s. Yet the songs braided together, and Someshta took those threads and wove them into his dance, gliding across the field in swooping strides, arms wide, butterflies swirling about him, landing on his spread fingertips.
Coumin could hear the seed singing around the other fields, hear the women dapping to urge the men on, their rhythm the heartbeat of new life, but it was a distant knowledge. The song caught him up, and he almost felt that it was himself, not the sounds he made, that Someshta wove into the soil and around the seeds. Seeds no longer, though. Zemais sprouts covered the field, taller wherever the Nym’s foot had trod. No blight would touch those plants, nor any insect; seed sung, they would eventually grow twice as high as a man and fill the town’s grainbarns. This was what he had been born for, this song and the other seed songs…

The song faded slowly, the Aiel guiding its end. Someshta danced a few steps more after the last voices ceased, and it seemed the song still hung faintly in the air for as long as he moved. Then he stopped, and it was done.

The Shadow Rising, The Dedicated


This was seed singing involving Nym, Ogier and Da’shain Aiel men. The women clapped the rhythm of life instead of singing. And now, most Aiel men rarely sing—only for war and death, not life.

In The World of Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time, the singing of the Da’shain is said to have enhanced channelling. (Da’shain served the Aes Sedai in other, unspecified ways also.) Singing was a technique rather than a single Song. In the Prologue to The Eye of the World,, Lews Therin speaks of a session of Singing where all are welcome to participate—if they have the Voice:

”Have you the Voice, stranger? It will soon be time for the Singing, and here all are welcome to take part.”

The Eye Of The World, Prologue


And the Technique, I guess.

To impress the Empress, Rand Sang to make vegetation grow to the tune of a mundane song (Two Maids At the Water’s Edge). This shows that it is the technique that counts, not the actual words and music. All this time, the Tinkers have been searching for the wrong thing. The fact that almost any song would do doesn’t make Singing less powerful, either. It’s all in the intent and the delivery—the Service. Interestingly, the Empress became pregnant fairly promptly.

Raen doubted that the Song would be found in a city (The Eye of the World, The Travelling People). However, Rand saw a Song performed in the lost city of Rhuidean, although it was only after he gained memories of his past lives that he showed a mastery of the technique.

We do not know of any Tinker’s reaction on learning of Rand’s Singing, or even if any heard and believed it, which makes Elyas’ commentary all the more poignant:

"They don't even know what the song is; they claim they'll know it when they find it. They don't know how it's supposed to bring paradise, either, but they've been looking near to three thousand years, ever since the Breaking. I expect they'll be looking until the Wheel stops turning."

The Eye of the World, The Travelling People


Ogier and treesinging

Just as music is the centre of the Tinker’s lives, it is more or less the basis of the Ogier’s language:

That inflected tongue sounded like deep-voiced birds singing. It seemed odd to Rand that a people so big had such a musical language.

The Eye of the World, What Follows In Shadow


When Loial sings to heal a tree, Rand felt it was as though the earth sang. Singing to create wooden objects seems:

pure song, music without words, at least none that Rand could make out; if there were words, they faded into the music just as water pours into a stream.

Rand was not sure what it was Loial did, or how; soft as the song was, it caught him up hypnotically, filling his mind almost the way the void did. Loial ran his big hands along the trunk, singing, caressing with his voice as well as his fingers. The trunk now seemed smoother, somehow, as if his stroking were shaping it. Rand blinked. He was sure the piece Loial worked on had had branches at its top just like the others, but now it stopped in a rounded end right above the Ogier's head. Rand opened his mouth, but the song quieted him. It seemed so familiar, that song, as if he should know it.

The Great Hunt, Kinslayer


Rand likens treesinging to the One Power—both fill his mind as the void does. The recognition Rand feels is due to the leakage of Lews Therin’s memories that had started. Lews Therin does know Singing and would also have witnessed seed singing. In Cairhien, and in Loial’s company, Rand was lured by the Choedan Kal and felt it sang:

Saidin sang to him. The huge ball seemed to glow white with the light of the sinking sun. It seemed to him that in the depths of the crystal, light swirled and danced in time to the song of saidin. … Suddenly - a drifting, distant thought - he realized that the void surrounded him. Saidin sang, and the sphere pulsed - even without looking, he could feel it - and the thought came that if he sang the song saidin sang, that huge stone face would open its mouth and sing with him. With him and with saidin. All one... He released the void . . . and it did not go. Saidin crooned, and the light in the sphere beat like a heart. Like his heart. Loial, Hurin, Selene, they all stared at him, but they seemed oblivious to the glorious blaze from the crystal. He tried to push the void away. It held like granite; he floated in an emptiness as hard as stone. The song of saidin, the song of the sphere, he could feel them quivering along his bones.

The Great Hunt, Saidin


The Ogier sang to the Great Trees that Rand caused to grow:

It washed over her, enveloped her, vibrated through her. A joyful song, a song of awe and wonder, though she could not understand the words. She approached a group of towering creatures, like trees themselves, standing with their hands on the gnarled trunks of the trees Rand had grown, their eyes closed.

Three dozen Ogier of various ages, from those with eyebrows as white as new snow to those as young as Loial. He stood there with them, a smile raising the sides of his mouth as he sang… Elayne nodded, listening to the Ogier song reach its climax, then fade, the Ogier bowing their heads. For a moment, all was peaceful.

A Memory of Light, Into the Thick of It


The Ogier also sing to heal trees (Towers of Midnight, opening passage) and a mourning song for those that die:

It was the dirge they sang for forests that had to be leveled or for great trees that died in a storm. It was a song of loss, of regret, of inevitability. He joined in the final refrain.
"All rivers run dry,
All songs must end,
Every root will die,
Every branch must bend.

A Memory of Light, Too Many Men


The Ogier have a war song which they describe as a call to blood, to death which is born of their rarely-roused fury:

He laid his ears flat as the Ogier began their war song. He lent his voice to theirs, glad for the terrible song—the call to blood, to death—as it filled the silence left by the trees. .. Loial did not stop his song, the call to blood, to death. Let them hear! Let them hear! Swing after swing. Chopping dead wood, that was all this was. Dead, rotting, horrible wood. He and Erith fell into place with Elder Haman, who—with ears laid back—looked utterly fierce. Placid Elder Haman. He felt the rage too.

A Memory of Light, A Silence Like Screaming


The Ogier themselves think their song is terrible; terrible because of the rage behind it and because it make the Builders destroyers. The song is the reverse of their usual working songs sung to flutes and fiddles:

"Clear the field, smooth it low.
Let no weed or stubble stand.
Here we labor, here we toil,
here the towering trees will grow.”

The Great Hunt, Stedding Tsofu


After singing songs of death, or regret for death, Loial literally changed his tune and used a song of life as a weapon:

He started singing again, louder, and this time it was not the song of mourning. It was a song he had not sung before, a song of growing, but not one of the tree songs that were so familiar to him.

He bellowed it loud and angry, laying about him with his axe. On all sides, grass turned green, cords and ribbons of life sprouted. The hafts of the Trolloc polearms began to grow leaves; many of the beasts snarled and dropped the weapons in shock.

Loial fought on. This song was not a song of victory. It was a song of life. Loial did not intend to die here on this hillside.

A Memory of Light, Too Many Men


Loial does something remarkable here; his song is akin to the power of the Nym at the Eye of the World.

Dark Song

Music has its dark side, following Jordan’s theme of balance. Trollocs have drums and horns for marching to battle (A Memory of Light, The Last Battle). More sinister is the seductive crooning of the draghkar that saps the will of those who hear it:

Elayne whipped her head up, turning to the side. That terrible song, a croon, a hum, beautiful yet terrible at the same time. She heeled Moonshadow, drawn toward that soft sound. Where was it?

It rose from somewhere deeper in the Seanchan camp at the base of Dashar Knob. Chewing out Mat for not telling her his plan of war could wait. She needed to find the source of that sound, that wonderful sound, that . . .

A Memory of Light, The Last Battle

Its crooning, hypnotic song clung tight around the Void… That song. Had he not been shielded from emotion by emptiness, kept dispassionate and distant, that song would have snared his mind.

The Shadow Rising, Traps


Draghkar are like Sirens as well as vampires, and Rand is better at ignoring their call than Odysseus.

Finally, the Blight itself has a terrible music:

And the dark song of the Blight had become a howl that drowned every other sound.

New Spring, Borderlands


*elfin Folk

While the *elfin people of Sindhol ban music, it is not because they hate it:

“Good. You have brought no lamps, no torches, as the agreement was, and is, and ever will be. You have no iron? No instruments of music?”

The Shadow Rising, Into the Doorway


It is because it lulls them into vulnerability—sleep or a trance—during which they are unable to take advantage of their intended prey:

Thom began playing. It was a familiar song, "The Wind That Shakes the Willows."…

Mat watched it, then began to sing along with the flute playing.
He did not have the best voice among those he knew, but he was not terrible either.
The Eelfinn yawned, then settled down beside the wall and closed its eyes. In moments, it was sleeping.
Thom lowered the flute from his lips, looking impressed.

Towers of Midnight, Gateways


This is a reversal of the stories of elves enchanting people with music and spiriting them away…

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Wheel of Time Music - Songs and Dances


Let’s start where the dancing started: on the green in the Two Rivers at Bel Tine.


Maypole dancing

In celebration of winter’s end and the start of the growing season, the Two Rivers people dance and sing around a wooden pole:

On the far side of the bridges, the mounds were already building for the Bel Tine fires, three careful stacks of logs almost as big as houses. They had to be on cleared dirt, of course, not on the Green, even sparse as it was. What of Festival did not take place around the fires would happen on the Green.

Near the Winespring a score of older women sang softly as they erected the Spring Pole. Shorn of its branches, the straight, slender trunk of a fir tree stood ten feet high even in the hole they had dug for it. A knot of girls too young to wear their hair braided sat cross-legged and watched enviously, occasionally singing snatches of the song the women sang.
Tam clucked at Bela as if to make her speed her pace, though she ignored it, and Rand studiously kept his eyes from what the women were doing. In the morning the men would pretend to be surprised to find the Pole, then at noon the unmarried women would dance the Pole, entwining it with long, colored ribbons while the unmarried men sang.

The Eye of the World, An Empty Road


Dancing around a tall wooden pole, a maypole, occurs at various European folk festivals, particularly on May Day (May 1st), or Whitsunday (or Pentecost, 50 days after Easter Sunday so somewhere between May 10th and June 13th) although in some countries it is at erected at Midsummer, around June 21st in the northern hemisphere. The pole may be decorated with painted designs or with garlands. The most traditional maypole dances are circle dances. Ribbon dances, where the pole is wrapped with entwined coloured ribbons, were developed in the 18th century.

Maypoles connect the earth, and the growing things thereupon, with the sky; they are symbols of the world tree and the axis mundi, the axis around which the world turns. Their location represents the cradle of the world, the world’s point of beginning. In the Wheel of Time series, the maypole on the Emond’s Field village green is literally the point of the beginning of the story.

One of the functions of the maypole is as a conduit for blessings to descend from above. The three ta’veren spun out to correct the Pattern are an expression of such blessings; and the strongest of them, the Dragon and Creator’s Champion, is literally the hope and salvation of the world. The three unlit bonfires beyond the village green represent the three young ta’veren. Ishamael more or less confirms this:

Ordinary men may hide in the sweep of the Pattern, but ta'veren stand out like beacon fires on a hill…

The Great Hunt, Kinslayer


They will be used to help burn the Trolloc carcasses after Winternight, just as Rand, Mat and Perrin will soon account for the destruction of masses of Trollocs. They were born to help purge the world of the Shadow.

The Two Rivers also has dances on Sunday (the longest day of the year – summer solstice) and at harvest. These appear to be mainly reels and jigs:

Had they been anybody but who - and what - they were, he would have asked any and all of them to dance a jig or a reel. He had danced with Egwene often enough, back home, and even once with Nynaeve, but that seemed a long time ago.

The Dragon Reborn, A Way Out


Reel

The reel is a lively partner-changing dance as well as the dance tune form:

Thom played the opening notes of "Wild Geese on the Wing," then paused for people to take their places for the reel.
"I think I'll try a few steps," Rand said, getting to his feet. Perrin popped up right behind him. Mat was the last to move, and so found himself staying behind to guard the cloaks, along with Rand's sword and Perrin's axe.
"Remember I want a turn, too," Mat called after them. The dancers formed two long lines facing each other, men in one, women in the other. First the drum and then the dulcimer took up the beat, and all the dancers began bending their knees in time. The girl across from Rand, her dark hair in braids that made him think of home, gave him a shy smile, and then a wink that was not shy at all. Thom's flute leaped into the tune, and Rand moved forward to meet the darkhaired girl; she threw back her head and laughed as he spun her around and passed her on to the next man in line…
He caught his next partner as she spun, and whirled her in a circle before passing her on. Three more women danced with him as the music gained speed, then he was back with the first dark haired girl for a fast promenade that changed the lines about completely.

The Eye of the World, Watchers and Hunters


Reels are in duple time, either 2/2 or 4/4. The beats are even with an accent on first and third beats of the bar. The structure of the tune is in two parts, A and B, with each part usually repeated as AABB, but is sometimes ABAB. Each part is typically eight bars long. An example of a reel is Wild Geese on the Wing.

In Scottish country dancing, the dancers complete a figure 8 pattern on the floor in a reel. They start at different points, but each completes the figure, weaving past each other, and are back in their original positions when the reel is finished.

Jig

The music for another dance, a jig, began while he was sitting down… Then the music and the clapping and the singing were too loud for any further talk. Rand and Perrin joined in the clapping as the dancers circled the floor.

The Eye of the World, Watchers and Hunters


A jig is a lively folk dance in compound time, particularly 12/8 and 6/8; and also a dance tune. It originated in 16th century England and was adopted into Irish and Scottish dance and on the continent in the 17th century. The structure of a jig is two eight-bar parts usually played at a fairly fast tempo. The steps are typically fast hopping steps. The dancers perform two different steps, each once on the right foot and then the left foot. The straight jig is African American. It has a syncopated beat, to which dancers perform slides and shuffles as well as hopping steps. However, the jigs in the series appear to be of traditional type. Old Gray Goose is an example of a jig.

Country dance

When the sun went down, Mat was back in The Golden Stag, dancing with Betse, minus her apron, while the musicians played as loudly as they could. Country dances this time, and tables pushed back to make room for six or eight couples.

Lord of Chaos, A Different Dance


In a country dance, two to four, occasionally up to six, couples dance together in a figure or "set”. The sets may be circles, squares, triangles or long lines. The dances originated on village greens in the British Isles. The long line formations tend to have the partners “progress” onto another partner throughout the dance, whereas the circle or square sets are usually non-progressive.

Huff the Feathers is an example of a country dance.

Pattern Dance

In Cairhien, Mat called on his memories to re-introduce a pattern dance:

There should be just enough room between the tables. The musicians began to play louder, if no better.
"Follow me," he told her. "The steps are simple to start." In time to the music he began, dip and a gliding sidestep to the right, left foot sliding after. Dip and a gliding step and slide, with arms outstretched… When they reached the musicians, he smoothly lifted her hands overhead and spun himself and her back to back. Then it was dip and sidestep, twirl face-to-face, dip, sidestep and twirl, again and again, all the way back to where they began…
"A little more complicated now," he murmured, turning so they faced the musicians side by side, wrists crossed and hands linked in front of them. Right knee up, slight kick left, then glide forward and right. Left knee up, slight kick right, then glide forward and left. Betse laughed as they wove their way to the performers once more. The steps became more intricate with each passage, but she needed only one demonstration to match him, light as a feather in his hands with each twist and turn and spin. … The music caught him up, missed notes and all, and the pattern dance…Very nearly he fumbled the complex interweaving of his feet with Betse's as they whirled down the floor, but he caught himself before tripping her, the steps coming instinctively.

Lord of Chaos, A Different Dance


The dance illustrates how each Age is more complex each time it comes around again in the Pattern. Mat often felt trapped by the Pattern in earlier scenes, but from this point on he accepts his role increasingly better.

Modern pattern dancing is a combination of contra dancing (from English country dances) and modern Western square dancing. Ice skating also has pattern dancing.

Jig/pattern dance

In Ebou Dar, Mat noticed a different dance not seen elsewhere:

In the common room of The Wandering Woman, the tables had been cleared away except for a few near the walls. The flutists and the drummer made shrill music for four laughing lines of people doing what appeared to be half pattern-dance and half jig.

A Crown of Swords, Swovan Night


Altara has some similarities with Mediterranean nations, and Italy in particular, as its name indicates, and the lively pattern dance may be a reference to the Tarantella family of southern Italian folk dances. These have a rapid tempo usually in 6/8 time. Here is an example.

Court dances

Elayne makes reference to delicate court dances (Crossroads of Twilight, Talk of Debts). Real world examples of these are the basse dance of the 15th century, the pavane of the 16th century and the gavotte or the minuet of the 17th and 18th centuries.

Tairen Line Dance

To celebrate the victory in Cairhien, the Tairen soldiers performed a line dance:

Not far from where he sat, a dozen Defenders of the Stone, stripped to sweaty shirtsleeves, were dancing to the claps of ten times as many watchers. In a line, with arms around each other’s shoulders, they stepped so quickly that it was a wonder none of them tripped or kicked the man next to them.

The Fires of Heaven, After the Storm


The dance is similar to Greek line dances in the real world, especially the rapid ones. Here is the sirtaki or dance of Zorba as an example. These dances were sometimes used to prepare the men for war. They encourage teamwork, fitness and accuracy.

Cairhienin Line Dance

In Cairhien there was a different line dance during the Feast of Lights:

A line-dance snaked past him behind a big-nosed fellow with a flute and no shirt; last in line pranced a round little woman who laughed merrily and took a hand from the waist of the man in front of her to try pulling Perrin in behind.

Lord of Chaos, The Feast of Lights


The dance is a conga line, which traditionally starts with a musician playing as they weave around the dance floor. Dancers join up behind the musician, forming a line that grows longer until the music stops. The dancers shuffle 3 steps and kick the fourth slightly ahead of the beat as they dance along. The musician initiating the conga line is often a drummer, but in Cairhien it was a flautist.

Aiel leaping dance

After the battle in Cairhien, the Aiel warriors performed a leaping dance to the accompaniment of pipes:

For another circle of onlookers, near a ten-foot pole stuck in the ground - Mat hastily averted his eyes - as many Aielmen were doing some kicking of their own. Mat assumed it was a dance; another Aiel was playing the pipes for them. They leaped as high as they could, flung one foot even higher, then landed on that foot and immediately leaped upward again, faster and faster, sometimes spinning like horizontal tops at the height of their leaps, or turning somersaults or backflips.

The Fires of Heaven, After the Storm


Mat avoids looking at the pole because Couladin’s head is atop it. This dance is rather like the Cossack or Hopak dance, which was also danced to celebrate a military victory. The dancers improvised, and performed acrobatic leaps and spins to demonstrate their speed and strength. Here is a mix of modern and historical footage with an un-Aiel usage of swords at one point and another that is a demonstration in a gym.

Tiganza

The Tuatha’an women perform a sexy dance by the campfires:

First one drum, then another, until every drum in the camp kept the same low, insistent beat. There was silence except for the drums. A girl in a red dress swayed into the light, loosening her shawl. Strings of beads hung in her hair, and she had kicked off her shoes. A flute began the melody, wailing softly, and the girl danced.
Outstretched arms spread her shawl behind her; her hips undulated as her bare feet shuffled to the beat of the drums... She turned in small circles, smiling over her shoulder at him…A second girl joined the first, the fringe on their shawls shaking in time to the drums and the slow rotation of their hips.

The Eye of the World, Shelter From the Shadow


It is a type of belly dance accompanied by drums and flute.

Sa’sara

The sa’sara is seductive as well as erotic and danced by Saldaean women.

"You've seen the tiganza, have you? Someday, if you are good, I may dance the sa'sara for you, and show you what a dance really is." Ila gasped in recognition of the name, and Faile went even redder than she had inside. Perrin pursed his lips. If this sa'sara set the heart pounding any harder than the Tinker women's swaying, hip-rolling dance-the tiganza, was it?-he definitely would like to see Faile dance it. He carefully did not look at her.

The Shadow Rising, A Missing Leaf


We never do see the sa’sara; it’s left to our imaginations, and is probably a reference to the dance of the seven veils.

The name sa’sara is probably a reference to sasara, a Japanese name for the lion dance and a bamboo percussion instrument. Part of the lion dance is a rice-planting dance performed by girls. Jordan was interested in Japanese culture—as shown by the Japanese influences in Cairhien, Shienaran and Seanchan cultures.

Shea Dancers

As well as the ballet-like display or exercises performed by certain da’covale in revealing clothing, the Seanchan employ Shea dancers, who wear a veil and little else, according to Egeanin.


Finally, Mat didn’t think much of Halima’s dancing:

She [Halima] was not a very good dancer—she kept trying to lead, for one thing—and he finally begged off.

Lord of Chaos,The Colour of Trust


She tried to lead because she used to be a man, and hadn’t adapted her dancing technique yet. It’s also symbolic of Halima trying to control or even injure Mat. This happens during the very distrustful and disillusioned The Color of Trust song.


Songs

The songs serve a few different purposes: they add to the sense of different cultures and to world-building in general, and they also add to the symbolism and set the mood, and are a sly commentary on subtext.

There are songs for war, songs for dancing, songs for mourning and songs for amusement. Many are widely known on the main continent, although often by a different name. It is also common for the same tune to be have different words in other regions. Most people learn music by ear—quite quickly, often—rather than read it. Thom may be one of the few who has seen and read musical manuscripts, judging by his researches into little known and very old tunes.

A list of the songs mentioned in the series follows, in alphabetical order.

Always Choose the Right Horse has the same tune as The Marriage of Cinny Wade but is played much faster (Towers of Midnight, The Seven Striped Lass).

As Long As The Wheel Turns is an old song that Thom found. It has been set to three different tunes over the years. Legend has it that Doreille Torghin, Queen of Aridhol, wrote the original poem:

The Wheel has turned, for better or worse.
And it will keep on turning, as lights die and forests dim, storms call and skies break.
Turn it will.
The Wheel is not hope, and the Wheel does not care, the Wheel simply is.
But so long as it turns, folk may hope, folk may care.
For with light that fades, another will eventually grow, and each storm that rages must eventually die.
As long as the Wheel turns.
As long as it turns. ...

The Gathering Storm, The Tipsy Gelding


The Pattern and the Wheel are what count. Everything else changes and dies away – the good and the bad. People have to hope and care – help keep the Wheel Turning.

Berin's Retreat is the same tune as Hard Rain Falling and The Wind From the North (The Eye of the World, Shelter From the Shadow).

Blue Sky Dawning is a decorous song that Siuan claimed to know in Lugard (The Fires of Heaven, The Nine Horse Hitch).

Cock o' the North was played by Rand in Four Kings (The Eye of the World, Four Kings in Shadow).

Colors of the Sun is the same tune as Rhea's Fling and Jolly Jaim (The Eye of the World, Four Kings in Shadow).

The Color of Trust is a very old song written by the owner of one of Mat’s memories—or at least he wrote the original words:

Give me your trust, said the Aes Sedai.
On my shoulders I support the sky.
Trust me to know and to do what is best,
And I will take care of the rest.
But trust is the color of a dark seed growing.
Trust is the color of a heart's blood flowing.
Trust is the color of a soul's last breath.
Trust is the color of death.

Give me your trust, said the queen on her throne,
for I must bear the burden all alone.
Trust me to lead and to judge and to rule,
and no man will think you a fool.
But trust is the sound of the grave-dog's bark.
Trust is the sound of betrayal in the dark.
Trust is the sound of a soul's last breath.
Trust is the sound of death.

Lord of Chaos, The Color of Trust

The verses continue with "the king on high" and "the lady and lord" to "the love of your life", finishing bitterly with “Trust is the taste of death”, and was written in disillusionment after a bad ending to a relationship. With five verses, the song probably incorporates the five senses into its imagery. Three are mentioned: colour for sight, sound for hearing and taste. Five being the number of humanity, the song extrapolates one person’s failings into the mortality and frailty of humanity.

A dead man’s memory, the equating of trust with death implies not only that death results from trust being broken, promises not kept, but that broken trust is as inevitable as death. Mat’s memories are far from random; they fit his character as well as his role. (Most readers have ignored the former while concentrating on the latter.) Even at the beginning of the books Mat was untrusting and this characteristic was exacerbated by the Shadar Logoth dagger. His encounters with Aes Sedai and the ‘Finns further validated this attitude. Mat himself has never been particularly trustworthy unless pressured into making a promise. The untrustworthy are most conscious of how easily and frequently trust can be broken by others.

With its deadly and deathly sentiments and refrain, the song reinforces Mat’s role as King of the Dead and a Fool figure dancing as close to Death as possible. All unconscious, the dancers in Salidar have no idea of the significance of the tune, and are pretending their own situation is not precarious and the Last Battle isn’t imminent. Oblivious to the imminent threat of the Shadow, they dance on.

Coming Home From Tarwin's Gap was played on the road to Caemlyn and sung in the Two Rivers. It is a song of a long-ago battle, possibly in the Trolloc Wars.

My home is waiting there for me,
and the girl I left behind.
Of all the treasure that waits for me,
that's what I want to find.
Her eyes so merry, and her smile so sweet,
her hugs so warm, and her ankle neat,
her kisses hot, now there's a treat.
If there's a treasure greater, it lies not in my mind…
Oh, I have seen stark Tarwin's Gap,
and the Trollocs' raving horde.
I have stood 'fore the Halfman's charge,
and walked on death's cold borde.
But a winsome lass, she waits for me,
for a dance, and a kiss 'neath the apple tree. ...

The Shadow Rising, A Missing Leaf


Dance With Jak O’the Shadows was first sung—by Mat of course!—in the Aiel Waste after he received his memories from the Eelfinn:

We'll drink the wine till the cup is dry,
and kiss the girls so they'll not cry,
and toss the dice until we fly
to dance with Jak o' the Shadows.…

We’ll dance all night while the moon runs free,
and dandle the lasses upon our knee,
and then you'll ride along with me,
to dance with Jak o' the Shadows.

The Fires of Heaven, Pale Shadows

We’ll sing all night, and drink all day,
and on the girls we’ll spend our pay,
and when it’s gone, then we’ll away,
to dance with Jak o’the Shadows.

There’re some delight in ale and wine,
and some in girls with ankles fine,
but my delight, yes, always mine,
is to dance with Jak o’ the Shadows.

The Fires of Heaven, After the Storm

We’ll sing all night, and drink all day,
and on the girls we’ll spend our pay,
and when we’re done, then we’ll away,
to dance with Jak o’the Shadows.

Lord of Chaos, A Different Dance

We'll give a yell with a bloody curse,
And hug the maids, it could be worse,
As we ride away with the Dark One's purse,
To dance with Jak o' the Shadows!

A Memory of Light, The Last Battle

And an improvised verse:

Well toss the dice however they fall,
and snuggle the girls be they short or tall,
then follow young Mat whenever he calls,
to dance with Jak o’ the Shadows.

The Fires of Heaven, After the Storm

In a later version sung in Knife of Dreams, it is “follow Lord Mat”.

Dance With Jak O’the Shadows was the Band of the Red Hand’s marching song and was accompanied with drums, trumpets and flutes (Lord of Chaos,A Different Dance). Mat taught the song to the Band. Not everyone approved of singing about dancing with death—but then not everyone approves of Mat, the King of the Dead.


The dance of death, or danse macabre, originated in medieval Europe, perhaps in response to plagues such as the Black Death. (Dance of death photo by Toffel.) Songs and pictures were created of Death as a skeleton leading people of all classes and ages in a processional dance. It was quite popular in the 15th century, which is earlier than the typical 17th to 18th century attitudes and technology of the Wheel of Time world. As King of the Dead, Mat has escaped death twice (revived after being hanged, and restored after being killed by lightning thanks to Rand’s balefire), and leads the living and the dead heroes to battle the Shadow.

The World War II song Ballad of the D-Day Dodgers may have influenced Dance with Jak of the Shadows and also If You Go To Be A Soldier, although it is far more sarcastic than either:

We're the D-Day Dodgers out in Italy -
Always on the vino, always on the spree.
Eighth Army scroungers and their tanks
We live in Rome - among the Yanks.
We are the D-Day Dodgers, over here in Italy.

We landed at Salerno, a holiday with pay,
Jerry brought the band down to cheer us on our way
Showed us the sights and gave us tea.
We all sang songs, the beer was free.
We are the D-Day Dodgers, way out in Italy.

The Volturno and Cassino were taken in our stride
We didn't have to fight there. We just went for the ride.
Anzio and Sangro were all forlorn.
We did not do a thing from dusk to dawn.
For we are the D-Day Dodgers, over here in Italy.

On our way to Florence we had a lovely time.
We ran a bus to Rimini right through the Gothic Line.
On to Bologna we did go.
Then we went bathing in the Po.
For we are the D-Day Dodgers, over here in Italy.

Once we had a blue light that we were going home
Back to dear old Blighty, never more to roam.
Then somebody said in France you'll fight.
We said never mind, we'll just sit tight,
The windy D-Day Dodgers, out in Sunny Italy.

Now Lady Astor, get a load of this.
Don't stand up on a platform and talk a load of piss.
You're the nation's sweetheart, the nation's pride
We think your mouth's too bloody wide.
We are the D-Day Dodgers, in Sunny Italy.

When you look 'round the mountains, through the mud and rain
You'll find the crosses, some which bear no name.
Heartbreak, and toil and suffering gone
The boys beneath them slumber on
They were the D-Day Dodgers, who'll stay in Italy.

So listen all you people, over land and foam
Even though we've parted, our hearts are close to home.
When we return we hope you'll say
"You did your little bit, though far away
All of the D-Day Dodgers, way out there in Italy.

As for the tune, Jordan had a particular one in mind:

I wrote "Jak o'the Shadows" to the tune of "Gary Owen," but I suppose anybody can put the words to what they wish.

Letter to Austin Sirkin May 1995

Garryowen was an Irish drinking song from the late 18th century adopted by the 5th (Royal Irish) Lancers. The title refers to an area of the town of Limerick in Ireland. The song has been adopted as a marching tune by other Irish regiments in England and North America as well as in Ireland. Here is the Garryowen regimental march and here is a rendering of Jak o'the Shadows to Garryowen by Argenstock.

The Dancing Lass was performed in Illian in a bawdier version than in the Two Rivers.

A Lugard girl, she came to town, to see what she could see.
With a wink of her eye, and a smile on her lip,
she snagged a boy or three, or three.
With an ankle slim, and skin so pale,
she caught the owner of a ship, a ship.
With a soft little sigh, and a gay little laugh,
she made her way so free.
So free.

The Dragon Reborn, Easing the Badger


Darling Sara uses the same tune as Ferry O'er the River and was played on the road to Caemlyn (The Eye of the World, Play for your Supper).

The Drunken Peddler is another name for Tinker in the Kitchen and was played in Four Kings (The Eye of the World, Four Kings in Shadow).

Ferry O'er the River is the same tune as Darling Sara and was played by Rand on the road to Caemlyn (The Eye of the World, Play for your Supper).

The First Rose of Summer is a love song Thom played in Tanchico (The Shadow Rising, A Cup of Wine) and may be a reference to the real world song The Last Rose of Summer.

Forward the Lion is Andor’s national song, an early type of anthem.

Forward the Lion,
Forward the Lion,
The White Lion takes the field.
Roar defiance at the Shadow.
Forward the Lion, Forward,
Andor triumphant.

The Eye of the World, Weaving of the Web


Since Andor has strong references to England, I checked if the song’s lyrics fit the British national anthem of God Save the Queen (or King) and they almost do—the second last line could have another syllable to work better.

A Frog on the Ice was hummed by Talmanes in Cairhien to tease Mat (Lord of Chaos,A Different Dance).

Goodman Priket's Pipe was played by Rand in Cairhien and had different words there to those Rand knew.

We rode down to River Iralell just to see the Taren come.
We stood along the riverbank with the rising of the sun.
Their horses blacked the summer plain, their banners blacked the sky.
But we stood our ground on the banks of River Iralell.
Oh, we stood our ground. Yes, we stood our ground.
Stood our ground along the river in the morning.

The Great Hunt, The Nine Rings


Hard Rain Falling has the same tune as Berin's Retreat and The Wind From the North (The Eye of the World, Shelter From the Shadow).

Heron on the Wing was performed in Cairhien by Rand (The Great Hunt, The Nine Rings).

Huff the Feathers is a country dance that Mat liked (Lord of Chaos, The Color of Trust).

If You Go To Be A Soldier is a military marching song:

You 'll feed on beans and on rotten hay,
and a horse's hoof come your naming day.
You'll sweat and bleed till you grow old,
and your only gold will be dreams of gold,
if you go to be a soldier. If you go to be a soldier.
Your girl will marry another man.
A muddy grave will be all your land.
Food for the worms and none to mourn.
You 'II curse the day you were ever born,
if you go to be a soldier. If you go to be a soldier.

Lord of Chaos,A Different Dance


I'm Down at the Bottom of the Well has the same tune as The Last Stand at Mandenhar (Winter’s Heart, Three Women).

Jolly Jaim is the same tune as Rhea's Fling and Colors of the Sun (The Eye of the World, Four Kings in Shadow).

Lament for the Long Night is tune from the Age of Legends that Rand was able to play from Lews Therin’s memories (Winter’s Heart, Bonds).

Life is a Dream is an Aiel dirge sung in parts:

Life is a dream—that knows no shade.
Life is a dream—of pain and woe.
A dream from which—we pray to wake.
A dream from which—we wake and go.
Who would sleep—when the new dawn waits?
Who would sleep—when the sweet winds blow?
A dream must end—when the new day comes.
This dream from which—we wake and go.

A Crown of Swords, The Butcher’s Yard


The Last Stand at Mandenhar is an old song of forlorn hope from the Court of Takedo in Darashelle. It has the same tune as I'm Down at the Bottom of the Well (Winter’s Heart, Three Women). As Mat notes, songs and dances around Mat often echo his thoughts and feelings, or vice versa.

Mistress Aynora's Rooster was played by Rand on the way to Caemlyn (The Eye of the World, Play for your Supper) and performed in Illian.

Midean' s Ford is an old song of a Manetheren wars before the Trolloc Wars:

Soft, the winds, like springtime’s fingers.
Soft, the rains, like heaven's tears.
Soft, the years roll by in gladness,
never hinting storms to come,
never hinting whirlwinds' ravage,
rain of steel and battle thunder,
war to tear the heart asunder…
Back across the blood-red water,
marching back with heads held high.
No surrender, arm or sword,
no surrender, heart or soul.
Honor be theirs, ever after,
honor all the Age shall know.

The Shadow Rising, Imre Stand


But Mat remembers that it didn’t happen this way; that instead of Aedomon leading the Saferi in an attack on Manetheren, overcoming King Buiryn of Manetheren at Midean’s Ford, but letting the remnant of his forces go out of respect for their courage, Aedomon ambushed the Manetheren King at the ford and killed them all. The song has kept events in memory but changed them, illustrating history turning to legend and myth.

The first part of the song sounds a bit like Juanita, the second part like ballads of battles against American Indians.

My Love Is a Wild Rose was played in the Two Rivers (The Shadow Rising, The Price of a Departure).

The Marriage of Cinny Wade is a slow and haunting version of a tune also used for Always Choose the Right Horse (Towers of Midnight, The Seven Striped Lass).

The Ogier sing this mourning song when great trees die or forests are levelled.

All rivers run dry,
All songs must end,
Every root will die,
Every branch must bend.

A Memory of Light, Too Many Men


In the Last Battle they sang it in mourning for the large numbers of humans killed.

A much more cheerful song is this working song the Ogier sang in more peaceful times in Stedding Tsofu:

Clear the field, smooth it low.
Let no weed or stubble stand.
Here we labor, here we toil,
here the towering trees will grow.

The Great Hunt, Stedding Tsofu


Only One Boot is a funny song that Thom played in Tanchico (The Shadow Rising, A Cup of Wine).

Only One Bucket of Water is a cheerful song (The Eye of the World, Watchers and Hunters). The song could be a reference to an equally cheerful 80’s one-hit wonder, The Bucket of Water song:

This is the song we lovers of water sing,
We can't go wrong we're happy as a King,
We beat the drum as we march along,
We crash the cymbal and bang the gong,
This is the song The Bucket of Water Song.

Chorus

Stand on one leg and point up at the sun,
Rattle your nose we're sure it must be fun,
But no matter who or what you are,
We know something you'll enjoy by far,
to sing out this song, The Bucket of Water Song!

Chorus

Though life is hard we do the best we can,
Against evil we guard to help our fellow man,
We put the baddies in their place,
we fight the foes of the human race,
But whatever the case we take it in the face!

To the water pumps, march and get fresh water!


The Old Black Bear was played by Rand on the road to Caemlyn (The Eye of the World, Play for your Supper).

The Old Gray Goose is a funny song that Thom played in Tanchico (The Shadow Rising, A Cup of Wine). Old Gray Goose is a traditional Irish jig performed here and also a children’s song:

Go tell Aunt Rhody go tell Aunt Rhody
Go tell Aunt Rhody the old grey goose is dead

Grandpa found her dying grandpa found her dying
Grandpa found her dying in the millpond on her head
The gander won't eat now gander won't eat now
Gander won't eat now because his wife is dead
Somebody go tell Aunt Rhody go tell Aunt Rody
Go tell Aunt Rhody that the old grey goose is dead
[ fiddle - banjo ]
Let's pray for the babies pray for the babies
Pray for the babies because their mama's dead
Somebody go tell Aunt Rhody...
[ fiddle ]
Lord now go tell Aunt Rhody children go tell Aunt Rhody
Want you to go tell Aunt Rhody tell her that the old grey goose is dead
Everybody go tell Aunt Rhody now now go tell Aunt Rhody
Now now go tell Aunt Rhody
Go tell Aunt Rhody tell her that the old grey goose is dead


And a lighter version:

Go tell Aunt Rhody, go tell Aunt Rhody,
go tell Aunt Rhody, the old grey goose is dead.
The one she's been saving, the one she's been saving,
the one she's been saving to make a featherbed.
She died in the millpond, she died in the millpond,
she died in the millpond from standing on her head.

She left nine young goslins; she left nine young goslins;
she left nine young goslins to scratch for their own bread.
Her goslins are weeping, crying and peeping,
her goslins are weeping because their mammy's dead.
The old gander's mourning, the old gander's mourning,
the old gander's mourning because his wife is dead.

The barnyard's a-weeping, the barnyard's a-weeping,
the barnyard's a-weeping waiting to be fed.
Go tell Aunt Rhody, go tell Aunt Rhody,
we took her in the kitchen and cooked her all day long.
And broke all the fork teeth, broke all the fork teeth,
and broke all the fork teeth, they weren’t strong enough.
Broke out Granddad's teeth, broke all Granddad's teeth,
broke old Grandad's teeth. The old grey goose is tough.

Go tell Aunt Rhody, go tell Aunt Rhody,
go tell Aunt Rhody, the old grey goose is tough.
Go tell Aunt Rhody, go tell Aunt Rhody,
go tell Aunt Rhody, we hauled her to the mill.
We'll grind her into sausages and make mincemeat,
grind her into sausages if only the miller will.
She broke all the saw teeth, broke all the saw teeth,
broke all the saw teeth, that old grey goose is tough.

Go tell Aunt Rhody, go tell Aunt Rhody,
go tell Aunt Rhody, we know this is a shock.
Go tell Aunt Rhody, go tell Aunt Rhody,
go tell Aunt Rhody, we know this is a shock.
But go tell Aunt Rhody, poor old Aunt Rhody,
go tell Aunt Rhody, we buried her under a rock.
Go run and tell Aunt Rhody, run and tell Aunt Rhody,
run and tell Aunt Rhody, the old grey goose is dead.


Here is a performance of the song.

The Old Two Rivers Leaf and Old Jak's Up a Tree were played in Cairhien (The Great Hunt, The Nine Rings).

Pretty Maids Dancing is the same tune as Three Girls in the Meadow (The Eye of the World, Shelter From the Shadow).

The Queen’s March is a well-known rallying horn tune in Andor (A Memory of Light, By Grace and Banners Fallen).

Rhea's Fling is the same turn as Jolly Jaim and Colors of the Sun (The Eye of the World, Four Kings in Shadow).

The Road to Dun Aren is a popular song in Andor which Rand played perhaps more often than he would hve liked on the road to Caemlyn (The Eye of the World, Play for your Supper and Four Kings in Shadow).

Rose of the Morning was played by Rand on his trek to Tear (The Dragon Reborn, The First Ship).

The Song of a Hundred Days is an obscure ballad of Villiam Bloodletter’s battle against the Banath people on Almoth Plain. Thom is one of the few who know it (Towers of Midnight, A Teaching Chamber). It’s a song that records history for posterity—and considering how well it apparently tallies with Mat’s memories, perhaps fairly accurately. This may be because it has been largely forgotten and so not been altered by attempted improvements over the years.

The Song of the Three Fishes is a respectable song which Siuan claimed to know in Lugard (The Fires of Heaven, The Nine Horse Hitch).

Sweet Whispers of Tomorrow is a beautiful dirge that Thom played in the *Finn’s world:

Oh, how long were the days of a man.
When he strode upon a broken land.
He sailed as far as a man could steer,
And he never wished to lose his fear.
For the fear of man is a thing untold.
It keeps him safe, and it proves him bold!
Don't let fear make you cease to strive,
For that fear it proves you remain alive!
I will walk this broken road,
And I will carry a heavy load!
So come at me with your awful lies,
I'm a man of truth, and I'll meet your eyes!

Towers of Midnight, The One Left Behind


Three Girls in the Meadow is the same tune as Pretty Maids Dancing, and was played by Rand and by Tinkers in Andor (The Eye of the World, Play For Your Supper and Shelter From the Shadow).

Tinker in the Kitchen was played by Rand in Andor and sung by Mat in the Aiel Waste. It has the same tune as The Drunken Peddler.

Tinker in the kitchen; with a job of work to do.
Mistress up above, slipping on a robe of blue.
She dances down the staircase, her fancy all so free,
Crying, “Tinker, oh, dear Tinker, won't you mend a pot for me?”

The Fires of Heaven, Pale Shadows


Here is a rendition by Reflectionsofsound.

It may be a reference to the Jolly Tinker folk song and reel, which have several variants:

As I went down a shady lane, at a door I chanced to knock
"Have you any pots or kettles, with rusty holes to block?"
"Well indeed I have, don't you know I have
To me right fol-ooral-addy, well indeed I have"

The missus came out to the door and she asked me to come in
"You're welcome jolly tinker and I hope you brought your tin"
She took me through the kitchen and she led me through the hall
And the servants cried "The devil, has he come to block us all.”
She took me up the stairs, me lads, to show me what to do
Then she fell on the feather bed and I fell on it too
Well, indeed I did, don't you know I did...

She then took out a frying pan and she began to knock
For to let the servants know, me lads, that I was at my work
Well, indeed I was, don't you know I was...

She put her hand into her pocket and she pulled out twenty pounds
"Take that my jolly tinker and we'll have another round"
"Well, indeed we will, don't you know we will...

She put her hand into her pocket and she pulled out a gold watch
"Take that my jolly tinker, for B'Jesus, you're no botch"
"Well, indeed I'm not, don't you know I'm not...

Well, I've been a jolly tinker for these forty years or more
But such a lovely job as that, I never did before
Well, indeed I didn't, don't you know I didn't...


Here is a performance.

The Tinker Has My Pots uses the same tune as Toss the Feathers and was played by Tinkers in Andor (The Eye of the World, Shelter From the Shadow).

Three Girls in the Meadow was played by Rand on the road to Caemlyn (The Eye of the World, Play for your Supper).

Toss the Feathers is the same tune as The Tinker Has My Pots and was played by Tinkers in Andor (The Eye of the World, Shelter From the Shadow). Toss the Feathers is an Irish reel traditionally played with tin whistle and fiddle. It has many other names. This performance includes a keyboard.

Two Kings Came Hunting is the same tune as Two Horses Running and was played in Four Kings (The Eye of the World, Four Kings in Shadow).

Two Maids at the Water's Edge was sung very softly by Rand to make trees sprout leaves and fruit in Ebou Dar (A Memory of Light, Older, More Weathered).

Wash the Spears is an Aiel battle hymn sung in parts:

Wash the spears - while the sun climbs high.
Wash the spears - while the sun falls low.
Wash the spears - Who fears to die?
Wash the spears - No one I know!
Wash the spears-while life holds true.
Wash the spears-until life ends.
Wash the spears. ...

The Shadow Rising, A Breaking in the Three-fold Land


What He Said to Me is the same tune as Will You Dance With Me and was performed in Tar Valon:

I’ll dance with a girl with eyes of brown,
or a girl with eyes of green,
I’ll dance with a girl with any color eyes,
but yours are the prettiest I’ve seen.
I’ll kiss a girl with hair of black,
or a girl with hair of gold,
I’ll kiss a girl with any color hair,
but it’s you I want to hold.

The Dragon Reborn, The First Toss

In Mat’s case it was the dice he was keen to hold at that time. Will You Dance With Me is an actual song:

I'm a dancer
And I move to the rhythm of the music
Oh, it carries me away

Yes I'm a dancer
I was born to live this life
I did not choose it
And when the song begins to play
Oh please, please
Will you dance with me?

And I'm a dreamer
Oh, my head is in the clouds
I keep believin'
They really do come true

A rainbow chaser
And in the end I know that all the love I needed
I will find it here with you
So please, please
Will you dance with me?

Baby can you hear the melody?
I swear I've never heard a sound so sweet
Makes me wanna take your hand
For when a girl hits the floor
I've never felt like this before

I'm a lover
Of all things everywhere
God set in motion
Like a sun and moon and stars

Our lives together
We'll rise and fall like the waves that pull the ocean
If you take me in your arms
So, please, please
Will you dance with me?
(Will you dance with me)
Oh, please
Will you dance with me? Ooo


The Wind From the North is the same tune as Hard Rain Falling and Berin's Retreat (The Eye of the World, Shelter From the Shadow).

The Wind That Shakes the Willow is a popular song in Andor:

My love is gone, carried away
by the wind that shakes the willow,
and all the land is beaten hard
by the wind that shakes the willow.
But I will hold her close to me
in heart and dearest memory ,
and with her strength to steel my soul,
her love to warm my heart-strings,
I will stand where we once sang,
though cold wind shakes the willow.

The Eye of the World, Watchers and Hunters


Here is a version by reflectionsofsound.

The song may be a reference to The Wind that Shakes the Barley, an Irish ballad and fast reel dating from the 19th century about leaving true love to fight a doomed rebellion against foreign invasion.

I sat within a valley green
I sat me with my true love
My sad heart strove to choose between
The old love and the new love
The old for her, the new that made
Me think on Ireland dearly
While soft the wind blew down the glade
And shook the golden barley
Twas hard the woeful words to frame
To break the ties that bound us
But harder still to bear the shame
Of foreign chains around us
And so I said, "The mountain glen
I'll seek at morning early
And join the bold United Men
While soft winds shake the barley.
While sad I kissed away her tears
My fond arms 'round her flinging
The foeman's shot burst on our ears
From out the wildwood ringing
A bullet pierced my true love's side
In life's young spring so early
And on my breast in blood she died
While soft winds shook the barley
I bore her to some mountain stream
And many's the summer blossom
I placed with branches soft and green
About her gore-stained bosom
I wept and kissed her clay-cold corpse
Then rushed o'er vale and valley
My vengeance on the foe to wreak
While soft winds shook the barley
But blood for blood without remorse
I've taken at Oulart Hollow
And laid my true love's clay-cold corpse
Where I full soon may follow
As 'round her grave I wander drear
Noon, night and morning early
With breaking heart when e'er I hear
The wind that shakes the barley


This is the song version, and this is the reel version which is much faster.

Wild Geese on the Wing is a reel that Thom played (The Eye of the World, Watchers and Hunters). Wild Geese is a Scottish country dance.

There are also some untitled songs and ballads described – mostly bawdy and comic songs.

A song about a rich merchant who, having just lost his team of horses in an improbable way, had for some reason decided to pull his carriage himself…The merchant lost, in succession, his carriage, his cloak, his boots, his gold, and the rest of his clothes, and was now reduced to wrestling a pig for its dinner - and shook his head.

The Dragon Reborn, Easing the Badger

There was one about a rich man whose wife and daughters made a fool of him time and again without ever deflating his self-importance; another that concerned a young woman who decided to take a walk without any clothes, and one that told of a blacksmith who managed to shoe himself instead of the horse.

The Dragon Reborn, Easing the Badger


These are subversive songs, mocking the rich or notable, or pushing against social mores, typical of real world folk songs.

The dark-eyed girl was singing a sad song about a boy leaving his love.

The Dragon Reborn, Shadowbrothers


Temaille forced Amathera to dance “lewd dances” and sing bawdy songs such as:

My breasts are round, and my hips are too.
I can flatten a whole ship's crew…
My thighs are strong, as strong as anchor chain.
My kiss can burst-

The Shadow Rising, into the Palace

It foreshadows Amathera’s enslavement by the Seanchan where she has to dance in revealing clothing (but not sing anything). Also, note that Temaille knows the words to at least a few bawdy songs.

In Maderin, Tuon listened to the inn’s entertainer sing:

”As I walked out one fine spring day, I met young Jac who was pitching hay,
his hair so fair, and his eyes were, too. Well. I gave him a kiss; oh, what could I do?
We snuggled and we tickled while the sun rose high, and I won't say how often he made me sigh.
Now Jac gets an hour when the sky is clear, and Willi gets an hour when my father’s not near.
It's the hayloft with Mori for he shows no fear, and Keilin comes at midday: he's oh so bold!
Lord Brelan gets an evening when the night is cold. Master Andril gets a morning, but he's very old.
Oh what, oh what is a poor girl to do? My loves are so many and the hours so few.”

It seemed that with every other verse, the woman in the song added a new lover to her list.

Knife of Dreams, A Hell in Maderin


There are a couple of mentions of children’s songs – Olver skipping along to a nursery rhyme (Winter’s Heart, An Unexpected Encounter) and Birgitte singing a song about dancing animals to children (The Fires of Heaven, To Boannda).

Sunday, July 26, 2015

What I've Been Doing


By Linda

It's been a while since I made a post here, but I've not been idle.

Following completion of my read through of Towers of Midnight, I've been working on a series of posts about The Wheel of Time Music. The first of these should be posted some time this week.

At the same time, I've also been part of a small group of fans organising Australia's first Wheel of Time Convention. It will take place September 26th, 2015 at Burwood, Sydney, NSW.

We have a website and banner: The Land of Madmen




Do join us!

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Towers of Midnight Read-through #65: Epilogue - And After


By Linda


Graendal POV

How surprised Graendal was that the prophecy did not work as she assumed, although Moridin warned her that prophecies can be tricky:

"What is this book?" she finally managed to force out. "Where did these prophecies come from?"
"They have long been known to me," Moridin said softly, still studying the book. "But not to many others, not even the Chosen. The women and men who spoke these were isolated and held alone. The Light must never know of these words. We know of their prophecies, but they will never know all of ours."
"But this . . ." she said, rereading the passage. "This says Aybara will die!"
"There can be many interpretations of any prophecy," Moridin said. "But yes. This Foretelling promises that Aybara will die by our hand."

Towers of Midnight, Writings

Mind you, he said himself that the prophecy indicated that the Shadow would kill Perrin. And then again, earlier in the scene he said that Perrin would escape Graendal. The latter judgment was correct; not the misplaced confidence in their interpretation of the prophecy.

Apart from the death of hundreds of “living dead” (Compelled slaves), Graendal lost a lot when Rand balefired her palace. She is about to lose even more. As a parallel of Aphrodite, who was born in the sea, Graendal has two hideaways near the ocean – her palace at Ebou Dar and her cave on an island in the middle of the Aryth Ocean in Towers of Midnight, Writings.

If Graendal had not stopped to pack, she might have escaped punishment…but she likes her conveniences too much. At this point it is indirectly revealed that Graendal killed Asmodean. For those disinclined to accept this, it was openly stated in the Towers of Midnight glossary.

Graendal was forced to take responsibility for the failed missions, but still argued and persuaded. Shaidar Haran assaulted and killed her, then the Dark One gave her an ugly body. In her former incarnation, her most prominent mythological parallels were alluring Aphrodite and Circe; now she is Grendel of the Anglo Saxon saga, monstrous in appearance as well as character.

The opportunity to wreak havoc while believed dead has gone to Lanfear/Cyndane, as we shall see later in this chapter.


Perrin POV

The Wrongness, the Dark One’s breaking of the Pattern, has now reached the stage where it is in Tel’aran’rhiod. Perrin tries to dispel it and replace it with health/rightness, but it is too large a scale for him to undo. This makes him reflect on how there are always limits and should be limits. Extremes are dangerous or wrong. Perrin went too far trying to bring back Hopper in Tel’aran’rhiod, as well as undo wrongness.

Then Perrin remembers the wolf with the name of Boundless – without limits, in one sense, free, in another. Hopper thought Perrin had found his answer for the man/animal balance or dichotomy but did not understand it. (Because Perrin thought it was a dichotomy, when actually it was a balance.) Boundless flees from Perrin when he asks for information. Perrin has to learn that Noam didn’t lose his humanity. He rejected it.

In the early stages of adjusting to being a Wolfbrother, Perrin unfortunately received misleading information from Moiraine:

“Is that what I can expect?” he asked. “To end like that?”
“Perhaps…Perrin, even in the Age of Legends, they knew little of this. Whoever wrote it seemed uncertain whether it was truth or legend. And I only saw a fragment, remember. She said that some who talked to wolves lost themselves, that what was human was swallowed up by wolf. Some. Whether she meant one in ten, or five, or nine, I do not know.”
“I can shut them out. I don’t know how I do it, but I can refuse to listen to them. I can refuse to hear them. Will that help?” “It may.” She studied him, seeming to choose her words carefully. “Mostly, she wrote of dreams. Dreams can be dangerous for you, Perrin.’

The Dragon Reborn, Wolf Dreams

and made wrong assumptions himself. False or incorrect knowledge is an important theme in The Wheel of Time. Perrin saw Noam in the early days of being a Wolfbrother when Noam hadn’t made his choice or found an equilibrium, a new state of mental health. Noam’s problem is that he saw too truly and too deeply and abandoned the human world for the lupine one. Everyone has their own balance, their own choices to make. What is right for one is not necessarily so for another. Each must take responsibility and understand what they are doing. Noam did. (There is an interesting parallel behind his name). This scene completes Perrin’s growth just in time for the Last Battle.


Olver POV

Olver quotes Mat’s Old Tongue saying: "Dovie'andi se tovya sagain," (It’s time to roll the dice). I guess he’s heard it enough times. In this scene, Olver has Mat’s luck too. He wins the game without cheating. Olver had no idea the game, based on a real world game of unequal forces, “can’t be won”, ie has a very low probability of victory. His game parallels Mat’s visit to Sindhol. The boy had been starting to lose his faith in the game, just as Mat began to doubt he would win against the *Finns.

In his grief, Olver focusses on avenging his father’s death. He has plans of going to the *Finns to get information on the Aiel man who killed his father. Grudgingly he acknowledges that he needs some fighting practice first. This war and the Blight change his mind – show him the reality. Not surprisingly, the boy was sadly traumatised by the Shaido’s predations in Cairhien and has supplied himself with a weapon, so he is not defenceless. Olver is a bit behind in his reading due to lack of education while a refugee.

Mat rightly thinks Olver can’t take care of himself well without help. He lied to the boy so he wouldn’t feel left out, which was futile, since Olver eavesdrops far more than Mat is aware.

Olver does what Mat and his men refused to do: find out what task Verin wanted done. This leads to the unwelcome discovery that the Last Battle has begun and that Shadowspawn are in Caemlyn.

Verin’s reliance on Mat’s curiosity was flawed – she underestimated his fear of the Power and dislike of Aes Sedai. As we saw in the previous chapter, even when in bad pain and with an Aes Sedai he respects, Mat won’t accept Healing. Without Olver’s innocent reading of other people’s correspondence, the cannon would be lost to the Shadow. They made a difference in the war, and also will to channeller/non-channeller relations.


Barriga

Barriga was a merchant seen at the beginning of Towers of Midnight. Then, he was a prosperous merchant, now he is wounded and dazed in the Blight. The dark-eyed Aiel he describes confused readers, since dark eyes are very rare among Aiel. Perhaps he mis-saw because of the mistaken saying “black-eyed” Aiel. They have red veils, not black, and we now know they hide whether their teeth filed or not. Filed teeth mean the “Aiel” was Turned to the Shadow and must therefore be a channeller, yet this one uses a knife. He takes down his veil to kill, as Isam’s POV explains. These are all a reversal of Aiel ways, so Barriga was right that they are not Aiel. They are reverse Aiel.

The scene is a cliffhanger and teaser to A Memory of Light, where many questions are answered in Isam’s POV.


Rand POV

Rand counted on Egwene uniting those opposed to his plants to break the Seals. Like Moridin, he is playing on the reputation for being dangerously irrational to intimidate people into obedience or cooperation, and had no firm plan B if his conditions were refused. He more or less thought they wouldn’t feel able to refuse, because he was scary and the alternative – no sacrifice – was unthinkable. It all hinged on his bluff not being called.

He has learned (via Lews Therin) how to control his own dreams and uses them to meditate. He recreated the valley where he sheltered for a while after he made decision to declare himself, and where he fled those close to him, because of what he was, to go to Tear on his own.

Lanfear is the one that given task of manipulating Rand instead of Graendal, and considering the residual feelings he still has for her, more likely to succeed. She breaks through his dreams, showing her skill in Dreamwalking: as the Wise Ones said, it’s not easy or safe because when you enter another’s dream they control all there. In Rand’s dream, Lanfear influenced him and was not under his control. She relied on his protectiveness and her own womanly wiles to manipulate him. Her hangout is an underworld, a cavern of light-sucking, life-sucking blackness, with walls of bone-white. It reminds him of death.

Rand falls for her act even though he recognises her, or perhaps because of it. Since Rand recognises her in a different body when he had thought her dead, he didn’t create her in his mind. He calls her Mierin – as if she had never joined the Shadow, or he overlooks her apostasy. At this stage, there is still some lingering feeling for her that has to be settled in his mind before he is ready to face the Dark One.

She may be being tortured, but she is also exaggerating. Lanfear is dragged into a pit (of hell), yet she is a hell goddess. Her claims that

”He grinds my bones and snaps them like twigs, then leaves me to die before Healing me just enough to keep me alive.“

Towers of Midnight, Epilogue

are suspect. They imply her bones would be not knitted properly or fully. Yet she moves freely; she is Healed a lot better than that.

Here we have the hell goddess suffering hell. Her comments to Perrin suggest that she is a hell goddess because of her suffering, not for what she does to others:

"I've suffered for my decisions. I've borne pain, agony, excruciating sorrow because of what I've done in my life. My suffering goes beyond what you could conceive."

A Memory of Light, Doses of Forkroot

Or that’s what she’d like to believe. More misunderstood than bad, apparently. Not her fault she went to the Shadow. She was driven to it.

Lanfear’s act aimed to destroy Rand’s hard-won peace and equilibrium on the day before his publicly announced meeting with the nations. This is hardly a coincidence.

"No!" she screamed. "He comes! The Shadow in every man's mind, the murderer of truth. No!"

Towers of Midnight, Epilogue

is overdone. All Forsaken are liars on this scale, not just one of them. As Jordan said, Lanfear was always a drama queen.

I must admit that I sighed at this act and Rand falling for it. I thought: “here we go again…” But she was artistically dragged away a little too soon and Rand does see the histrionics after a while, as we see in their next encounter.


Lan POV

Kaisel – a prince and heir – prods Lan into declaring himself. Until now, Lan has been a hidden monarch figure. Their charge is a parallel of the charge of the Light Brigade, who bravely carried out their mistaken orders to make a frontal assault on a Russian artillery battery at the Battle of Balaclava, as described in Tennyson’s The Charge of the Light Brigade:

Half a league, half a league,
  Half a league onward,
All in the valley of Death
  Rode the six hundred.
'Forward, the Light Brigade!
Charge for the guns' he said:
Into the valley of Death
  Rode the six hundred.

'Forward, the Light Brigade!'
Was there a man dismay'd?
Not tho' the soldiers knew
  Someone had blunder'd:
Theirs not to make reply,
Theirs not to reason why,
Theirs but to do and die:
Into the valley of Death
  Rode the six hundred.

Cannon to the right of them,
Cannon to the left of them,
Cannon in front of them
  Volley'd and thunder'd;
Storm'd at with shot and shell,
Boldly they rode and well,
Into the jaws of Death,
Into the mouth of Hell
  Rode the six hundred.

Flash'd all their sabres bare,
Flash'd as they turned in air
Sabring the gunners there,
Charging an army while
  All the world wonder'd:
Plunged in the battery-smoke
Right thro' the line they broke;
Cossack and Russian
Reel'd from the sabre-stroke
Shatter'd and sunder'd.
Then they rode back, but not
Not the six hundred.

Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon behind them
  Volley'd and thunder'd;
Storm'd at with shot and shell,
While horse and hero fell,
They that had fought so well
Came thro' the jaws of Death,
Back from the mouth of Hell,
All that was left of them,
  Left of six hundred.

When can their glory fade?
O the wild charge they made!
  All the world wonder'd.
Honour the charge they made!
Honour the Light Brigade,
  Noble six hundred!

The poem emphasised their patriotism and dutifulness despite Rand’s long-delayed support. Lan’s forces are at the jaws of the Bight, where is located Hell, and the shadow of Death.

The Borderlander forces feel just as doomed. Lan thinks they are. The charge represents the Land fighting back, attacking rather than defending, even though they have not the numbers for it.

Now that Nynaeve has Lan’s Bond – a recent change - he doesn’t feel “One Man Alone” physically or emotionally. All Malkier rides with him. They have done a lot to help Lan, as have the noble Borderlanders with him, but Nynaeve most of all.


Dark Prophecy

The book closes with an excerpt from Moridin’s book of dark prophecy:

Lo, it shall come upon the world that the prison of the Greatest One shall grow weak, like the limbs of those who crafted it. Once again, His glorious cloak shall smother the Pattern of all things, and the Great Lord shall stretch forth His hand to claim what is His. The rebellious nations shall be laid barren, their children caused to weep.
There shall be none but Him, and those who have turned their eyes to His majesty.
In that day, when the One-Eyed Fool travels the halls of mourning, and the First Among Vermin lifts his hand to bring freedom to Him who will Destroy, the last days of the Fallen Blacksmith's pride shall come. Yea, and the Broken Wolf, the one whom Death has known, shall fall and be consumed by the Midnight Towers. And his destruction shall bring fear and sorrow to the hearts of men, and shall shake their very will itself.
And then, shall the Lord of the Evening come. And He shall take our eyes, for our souls shall bow before Him, and He shall take our skin, for our flesh shall serve Him, and He shall take our lips, for only Him will we praise. And the Lord of the Evening shall face the Broken Champion, and shall spill his blood and bring us the Darkness so beautiful. Let the screams begin, O followers of the Shadow. Beg for your destruction!

Towers of Midnight, Epilogue

perhaps the very one which misled Graendal to believe she would kill Perrin:

"What is this book?" she finally managed to force out. "Where did these prophecies come from?"
"They have long been known to me," Moridin said softly, still studying the book. "But not to many others, not even the Chosen. The women and men who spoke these were isolated and held alone. The Light must never know of these words. We know of their prophecies, but they will never know all of ours."
"But this . . ." she said, rereading the passage. "This says Aybara will die!"
"There can be many interpretations of any prophecy," Moridin said. "But yes. This Foretelling promises that Aybara will die by our hand.”

Towers of Midnight, Writings

Interesting that this is the first prophecy she saw.

The One-Eyed Fool is Mat. He has been a Fool and Joker figure from the beginning. The halls of mourning he walks may be the Tower of Ghenjei where Thom played his dirge and so many have died, including Noal, but it is even more applicable to the battlefields Mat will soon roam.

The First Among Vermin – Rand – frees the Dark One, by opening his prison. The Seals weakened on the prison so that the Dark One corrupted and weakened the Pattern. People felt abandoned by the Creator and despaired so that there was “None but Him”, none but the Dark One in the world.

The Fallen Blacksmith is Perrin, but these are not his last days, just those of his pride. He now accepts his nature and his responsibilities.

The Broken Wolf who has known death is Hopper. The Midnight Towers are a negative reflection of the White Tower riddled as it was with Black sisters controlled by Mesaana—or how it appeared in Tel’aran’rhiod. Hopper was consumed by the Midnight Towers; he died forever there in the dark reflection of Tar Valon in Tel’aran’rhiod. The wolf fell in battle against Isam and the Black Ajah, a battle that shook people. He is now always in the afterlife, and cannot be reborn, which made Perrin grief-stricken and also shaken to lose his mentor.

Ultimately, Darkness was not brought – except for the Dark One, who was locked way, and for the Forsaken and Darkfriends killed. Many who walked in the Light sacrificed themselves to turn back the Darkness.

This prophecy of the Dark One stretching forth his hand to take over the world parallels the prophecy of Rand stretching out his hand to catch the Shadow and prevent it choking the land:

The Shadow shall rise across the world, and darken every land, even to the smallest corner, and there shall be neither Light nor safety. And he who shall be born of the Dawn, born of the Maiden, according to Prophecy, he shall stretch forth his hands to catch the Shadow, and the world shall scream in the pain of salvation. All Glory be to the Creator, and to the Light, and to he who shall be born again. May the Light save us from him.

The Shadow Rising, Prologue

Neither prophecy is for the faint-hearted, being a warning of misery and terror.