Friday, September 29, 2017

A Memory of Light Read-through #35: Chapter 32—A Yellow Flower-Spider


By Linda

Mat POV

Mat’s damane, unnamed as yet, despite being immediately eager to cooperate with and please her captors, is making gateways, a weave she learned by watching Aes Sedai. Such prompt acceptance of the collar is rare, but no one doubts that it is genuine—Stockholm syndrome.

Mat feels guilty about enslaving the Sharan damane. He also hugely admires Tuon, even while thinking about how she also is a channeller—just one that hasn’t let herself touch the Source. Yet. Tuon is a Nemesis figure (Greek goddess of justice and retribution) and all it will take will be great desperation. Considering what Seanchan court life is like, if nothing else, the day will come, but we readers won’t see it.

Tuon insists on a description of Min’s viewing before her explanation of the meaning. All this time, Min has assumed that if she doesn’t know, no one else can figure it out. But the Seanchan have their own omen interpretation system, so it’s understandable that they want to test Min’s out or expand it or their own. Perhaps Min’s reticence is a response to having those viewings she does understand rejected by the receiver, often quite violently. Min protests vehemently when Tuon commands that someone be executed for what they think she may do. But no one collars sul’dam for all that they may channel one day. Min defies Tuon and implies that torturing her would be a crime that would be punished by the Pattern. (Nemesis again.) Tuon is pleased and reassured that Min won’t misuse her talent for spite, power or ignorance.

Mat rather hypocritically thinks Min should show more respect to Tuon. Or he’ll have to rescue her—which also follows on from Egwene’s thoughts in the previous chapter about Mat rescuing people. And that brings us to the meeting between the Seanchan and the Aes Sedai. Mat is Tuon’s Voice in the meeting with the Hall and Saerin Egwene’s.

Pressed up against a river, the Aes Sedai armies’ situation is grave and Mat wants to move to a more advantageous position. It is time for last stands. This is where the novel starts to curve back in on itself to come full circle. First, Mat rejects the suggestion of Tar Valon, the scene of the Aiel War. He does not want to fight in a city, but in a place in the Borderlands…as in Book 1, and so we are back at Merrilor, where the pact was made. It is a very risky strategy; but as Rand said, drawing everything out only exhausts the Light more and allows the Shadow to invade further and be harder to eradicate. Mat is betting on rolling a winning last throw.

Looking over the maps, he mentally reminds himself about damming the river. It’s one of his more striking battles, as we shall see.


Galad POV

The Lord Captain Commander realises that not everyone is perfect, and that’s OK so long as they do their best. He thinks he is morally better than they—and while that is often the case, perhaps he forgot his mistake with Valda. One mistake, true, but he isn’t perfect. And that’s OK, because he does his best. In this case, Galad did the right thing, as it happened, but for the wrong reason and not for what he thought. Elayne finds Galad’s perfectionism intolerable, yet her rash and ambitious brother does not and loves Galad deeply.

Galad knows that he annoys Elayne and regrets it, while she realises that she misjudged him this time. He is not refusing Healing out of false heroics, or fear of channelling, but for a good cause. It is to remind himself of how the average soldier is feeling, and that his men don’t all have the privilege of Healing. Galad wishes that Perrin was there; they are two honest open men able to speak freely to each other as equals without offense. This is quite ironic, considering that Perrin was accused of being a Darkfriend and a criminal. It shows how much the Whitecloaks have changed under Galad’s moral compass. I wonder how many other times Galad’s actions were misjudged by his family, and if there had been some dialogue between the two half-siblings, he might have moderated his judgement in response to the feedback. Some of Elayne’s reactions may be envy, as well as the resentment of the youngest child to any restriction of their will.

Galad thinks it is a lie to say they won the battle when so many died, but there is such a thing as a pyrrhic victory. And they are winning one, though it has to be. It’s the best they can expect, sadly. Elayne knows how to keep focussed and boost morale. They must not dwell on the dark side, but do, and sacrifice, what they have to.

Galad’s wish for Perrin leads into the next chapter.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

JORDANCON 2016 SYMBOLISM PRESENTATION


By Linda

The Wheel of Time is steeped in symbolism - layers and layers of it, like an onion.


Here is a copy of the presentation I gave at JordanCon 2016 on symbolism in the series.





For further reading, there is my essay on Robert Jordan and Freemasonry


I have written detailed analyses of some of the different forms of symbolism:


Animal Symbolism


Number Symbolism


Alchemical Symbolism


even the Inns are symbolic:


Tuesday, August 22, 2017

A Memory of Light Read-through #34: Chapter 31—A Tempest of Water


By Linda

Egwene POV

At first, Egwene feels immediate and extreme hatred for the Seanchan noble arriving at her camp, only to discover it’s someone she knows and likes—Min. Min’s message from Mat that Bryne is leading their army to destruction is discounted, even though the Aes Sedai and their army just barely survived the last disaster. Part of the problem is that the Amyrlin discounts Mat’s abilities as a general as well as his good sense. She thinks Mat is trying to save her from shadows—but the Shadow’s danger is real. Egwene admits to being disturbed at Bryne’s error level, but can’t believe there is worse underlying danger. While there is a good reason for Bryne’s faulty judgment, there really isn’t for Egwene, who is particularly dismissive in this scene.

Ituralde POV

Next we turn to Ituralde and have our first view inside a Compelled man’s mind since Noal/Jain Charin’s POVs. The Domani general is fighting Compulsion more effectively than the other generals. Likely, he has a stronger sense of self than they because he is a self-made man, having risen entirely through his ability and his own efforts, with no head start from being a noble. Not only is Graendal torturing him in his dreams, but he has underlying PTSD from the horrors of Maradon. Thanks to Perrin, Ituralde is saved by Elyas just before he was finally about to give a wrong order. He had made heroic efforts to resist saying it up until that point.

Egwene POV

Like most tricksters, Mat is not taken seriously even when he is right. Egwene remembers times that Mat saved people—including her, when she was convinced she didn’t need saving. (Mat and Gawyn have previously remarked that Egwene often mistakenly believes she doesn’t need saving.) Her review of the past—and perhaps her own misgivings about Bryne—leads her to reconsider her attitude and not ignore Mat. The Aes Sedai will investigate Bryne’s errors and either dismiss Mat’s accusations or act on them.

Once Egwene hears that Bashere has been stood down, she questions Bryne hard. From Bryne’s confession that he doesn’t know what’s wrong with his mental state, she realises that the Great Captains have been Compelled. The Aes Sedai have their camp under watch for channelling, but Graendal is making her weaves in Tel’aran’rhiod, not the waking world, as well as manipulating their dreams.

The Forsaken know how to reverse their weaves, which then aren’t detectable except through testing for residues. Only Mat is immune to direct weaves while wearing his ter’angreal against his skin and so the Hall and Egwene finally assent to transferring the command of the armies to him.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

A Memory of Light Read-through #33: Chapter 30—The Way of the Predator


By Linda

Perrin POV

The chapter title is about testing to find the weakness in your opponent. Perrin is referring to Slayer, but we see little of him in this chapter.

Perrin is searching for Graendal, who found the weakness of the Light’s armies: there is only one person devising the strategy for each army. Corrupt them and they lose the battle and the army. At first, Perrin assumed that Graendal was giving orders to Darkfriends in the camps to sabotage the battle, but her plan is more effective.

Quite a bit of time has elapsed, and Perrin is frustrated that they have to rely on others to leave Tel’aran’rhiod. It is difficult to get the timing right and meet up, when time flows very differently in each place, and he considers following Graendal through her gateway to return to the waking world. He senses a similarity between taking a gateway out of Tel’aran’rhiod and waking up.

Seeing his old friend Elyas out of context was disconcerting; it takes Perrin quite a while to recognise him in a place he normally doesn’t go. Elyas has avoided Tel’aran’rhiod because it is dangerous, but all places are dangerous now and everyone has to do their bit.

It takes Perrin little time to put a few snippets of information together and realise Graendal is corrupting the minds of the Great Captains to undermine their armies. Elyas is to wake up and warn the other leaders, and save Ituralde.


Rand POV

The essence of the Dark One is a cold expanse of darkness, infinite and empty like a black hole. Wind surges into the void. The black hole analogy will become stronger as the wind also strengthens and tries to suck everything in along with it. Nynaeve’s eyes are closed in endurance, but Moiraine is determined to witness.

Rand is using Callandor—the sword that is not a sword—in a sword fight. Lews Therin Telamon was always better than Moridin at fencing, and Rand feels more confident after practising fighting one-handed so effectively with his father. (In some ways, that was the least that he was taught in that session, as we will see). Both men are now bleeding on the rocks of Shayol Ghul—another similarity, another link.

The terrain has been changing while the men fight, to help Moridin catch Rand off guard, and also to push Rand into the Dark One’s nothingness, which he eventually does, for the second stage of this battle. All goes black for Rand as he contacts the Dark One’s void.

Elayne POV

Elayne’s army is on the verge of collapse with exhaustion, nearly overrun. The dragons are out of ammunition, but her channellers are too exhausted to make gateways for supplies. Worse, Elayne’s army can’t retreat because they have insufficient space and would be slaughtered as they pull back.

Logain and a hundred Asha’man arrive, a comparison with Lews Therin and the Hundred Companions at the end of the War of Power. They have joined Elayne because they found the Shadow’s battle plans in Taim’s study.

Logain’s eyes are darker than they once were, but not “wrong”. His whole being is very dark but the Turning to the Shadow was not completed so he may be restored. After all: “There is no person so dark that they cannot come back to the Light…” Of course, once Turning is completed, the person cannot be brought back to the Light by natural means.

Elayne’s words that:

"We must retreat—unless you can produce a miracle, Lord Logain."

- A Memory of Light, The Way of the Predator

make Logain smile not because she acknowledged his rank—birth and earned—but because he thinks they can produce a miracle.

A balanced circle of 14 women and 13 men—the strongest type of circle—performs a “great work”. Such a magnum opus is legendary these days. They will perform their own miracle, contrasting with the lack of cooperation between the sexes at the end of the War of Power in the Age of Legends. Both Lews Therin and Logain turned the tide of battle.

Elayne tends to think that strength is the most important factor in a channeller. This is understandable since she has been trained by Aes Sedai—all too well. She also assumes that Androl is not able to do much, and is likely susceptible to being overwhelmed by the power. It’s easy to see in her doubt the start of the Aes Sedai discounting weaker channellers in everything. Furthermore, even numb with exhaustion, she finds Pevara’s affection for a man shocking in a Red. The usual Aes Sedai judgments and stereotypes have already been swallowed wholesale.

Just as Leane is able to achieve as much as she used to by channelling cleverly, so does Androl. Making Gateways to a volcano magma chamber is a brilliant idea and he has the amazing talent to bring it off. Extra Asha’man outside the circle fan the lava and heat away from the humans and blow Trollocs into the flow.

After his feat, Androl is exhausted and surprised that the equally exhausted Elayne immediately plans to fight on. They must wipe out all the Shadowspawn. Elayne is determined and courageous (like a Green); and this is also the right tactic; one side of winning the war is exterminating the Shadowpawn. The other side is Rand winning his battle. They are interdependent, and every win on each side literally advances the other.

Monday, July 3, 2017

A Memory of Light Read-through #32: Chapter 29—The Loss of a Hill


By Linda

Egwene POV

Egwene witnesses one of Bryne’s “mistaken” orders born of Graendal’s Compulsion and is going to investigate why it occurred. Without seeing it herself, she would not be willing to entertain the idea that there is something wrong with him and his tactics.

She also notices how sickly Gawyn looks, but cannot imagine the cause—the bloodknives’ ter’angreals leeching his life away. However, she is well aware of his resentment at not yet fighting directly in battle. As Elayne’s First Prince of the Sword. Gawyn would not be a good incumbent because he acts like senior military positions are more about the literal sword than the generalship, advisory and responsibility. Despite having received appropriate training, he is too hungry for personal glory to be anything but a liability.


Lan POV

Agelmar is making inspirational speeches—and they are almost platitudes—as though convincing himself by convincing others. Worse, he is contradicting plans he made on previous days. Nevertheless, such is the trust in him, that Lan finds him rather convincing, even though he knows Agelmar’s maps are not up to date. This leads Lan to start having qualms, until his messengers arrive to prove Agelmar is wrong. Then the whole fa├žade cracks and falls down. Agelmar breaks through his Compulsion and wants to commit seppuku—there is a strong Japanese influence in Shienaran culture—but Lan stops him. Lan deduces that Agelmar has been Compelled.

One outcome of the mess is that they observe Queen Tenobia of Saldaea being killed. Like Gawyn, she was obsessed with glory and war and paid the price. Appalling as this is, it is far from their worst problem. Agelmar has carried out Graendal’s orders too well and they will be lucky if they don’t lose the entire army. Tenobia’s death brings Faile, and Perrin, one step closer to the Saldaean crown.


Mat POV

Much to Mat’s dismay, Min has informed Tuon about the viewings she sees around him; in fact, he makes it obvious to her that he would much rather she misled Tuon. Min refuses to use her talent in an unethical and untrustworthy manner. Selucia is another woman annoyed with Mat: over the likelihood that Tuon will follow Mat into potential danger.

Mat complains about how the Pattern has pushed him where he is—to lead armies and battle Forsaken. The Pattern and women. However, Mat is a great complainer about small things rather than large, so he can’t be too put out by it.

His fear of channelling has not abated, and he still clams all male channellers are crazy, not just Demandred and Rand. This negativity has nothing to do with the taint, because he was told in The Gathering Storm that it is gone. He just fears channelling as much as any Seanchan or Whitecloak does.

Once in sight of battle, Mat boldly, even recklessly, gallops into the fray to find out why the Seanchan troops have not been given orders to fight and assist Bryne’s army. Quite the reverse, Bryne has ordered Tylee to do nothing. Mat sees that Bryne’s plans are rubbish, and leads the Seanchan to undo the damage. Ironically, his ashandarei is not an effective weapon in this battle and Mat pulls out. This is when he captures an overconfident Sharan channeller. She is slow to get over the shock of her weave melting when it touched him and try an indirect weave. The Ayyad are too used to fighting with the One Power to quickly adapt and use other means, as another Sharan channeller complemented Egwene:

“Few of the Ayyad would reach for a dagger so quickly, rather than for the Source. You have been trained well.”

A Memory of Light, At the Edge of Time

Mat breaks a nail—supposedly an omen of very bad luck, according to Tuon in Winter’s Heart, What A Veil Hides. Or at least he cracks it, and then accidentally ennobles an officer who has just been converted into a devoted follower by biting the nail off and spitting it at his feet. This is a funny example of the Law of Unintended Consequences.

Like Lan, Mat can see that the forces here have been used badly and will undoubtedly lose. If he steps in immediately, with absolute control of the army, he can turn things around. Tuon frets that betting on Mat might be a mistake, but he blithely reassures her.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

A Memory of Light Read-through #31: Chapter 28—Too Many Men


By Linda

This is one of a series of shorter chapters with quick scenes that show the pace accelerating as everything tips into the abyss of the Last Battle.

Lan POV

With some thorough investigation and analysis, Lan’s doubts have become real concerns that the battle plans of the Borderlander army are being sabotaged. Agelmar’s efforts are not good enough to counter the Shadow, even though they have evaded suspicion until now. Baldhere, who originally raised doubts, is convinced that only tiredness is behind the “errors”, and feels no hint of “I told you so”.

Lan deduces what Agelmar’s underlying disastrous battle plan is, and is able to circumvent the final order that would set the trap, and also begins undoing some of the damage. However, he won’t act further until he knows all the facts, which is fair, but potentially risky. Great Captain Pedron Niall said:

And never wait to know everything. The man who waited to know everything was still sitting in his tent when the enemy burned it over his head.”

Lord of Chaos, Red Wax

Although the Whitecloak commander was also prepared to reconsider his approach if he had qualms.

Actually either approach is risky here: investigate and more damage may be done meanwhile, or stop everything and be seen to be unjust, which is bad for trust and morale.

Loial POV

The Ogier had started to accept that Elayne’s army would lose its battle against the Shadow, when Loial defiantly Treesings as a weapon, making the wooden hafts of the Trollocs’ weapons sprout leaves and become useless. His Song of Life undoes the Shadow’s wrongness with something positive, even if dead wood does not usually re-sprout. It’s a reminder to never say die. Loial is appalled at the human loss of life and wanted to counter it with more life. For his own part, the Ogier really wants to live to finish his book.

Mat POV

Mat is dissatisfied with second-hand information on how the battle is going and suspects it has been simplified:

Looking back at the maps, Mat felt like cursing again. Maps, maps and more maps. Pieces of paper…How could he know they were accurate?...More and more, he was thinking that battle maps were about as useful as a heavy coat in Tear. He needed to be able to see the battle, not how someone else thought the battle looked. The map was too simple.

A Memory of Light, Too Many Men

He has a point; although, it is perhaps coloured by his own preferences since, while fully literate, he has never had patience with sitting and studying as Min does. Likewise, Tuon would like to see the battlefield herself, and so she agrees that Mat should go. The Seanchan military commanders are offended that Mat judges them and their messengers lacking.

Like Mat, Min, has also been dressed in green and black by the Imperial tailor in recognition of their Andoran country heritage. However, I doubt that Min has literally hundreds of silver hair pins in her hair.

Personal nudity is shaming to the Seanchan, according to RJ’s notes, and therefore a high-ranked Seanchan stripping off in public is lowering his eyes. It is even more embarrassing for a prince to do this; but, as the Seanchan will learn, tricksters like the Raven Prince are shameless. In fact, his bold rebellion inspires Min, and when she says she is tempted to follow suit (unsuit?), he dares her to do it. She glares at him.

Mat has subverted regular Seanchan guards with bribes to get his clothing back—a small undermining of discipline but still significant. Again, so typical of a trickster. He also tried it on the Deathwatch Guards, and won’t do it again. Thoroughly intimidated by them, he is glad they are incorruptible for Tuon’s sake.

Speaking of holding people to their duty, the Seanchan prince reminds Min that Rand would like her to stay with the Seanchan to act as a bridge between them and the Aes Sedai and other Mainland nations. His manipulation angers her.

Friday, May 19, 2017

A Memory of Light Read-through #30: Chapter 27—Friendly Fire


By Linda

Bryne POV

From Bryne’s viewpoint, his battlefield dispositions are working well; there is no conflict or confusion over them, unlike the evident cracks in the Borderlanders’ army. It was a shot-down raken that disrupted the camp—Egwene’s forces not being used to large aerial fighters. The Tower army are increasingly needing the Seanchan to augment them, although if the Seanchan were under Bryne’s command at this time, they would have been needlessly wasted in the near future like his own forces. The Empress’ refusal for her legions to serve under Aes Sedai preserved them.

Min POV

The Aes Sedai are making minimum size gateways to conserve energy, but Min does not think this is reasonable. Once a upon a time, she would not have baulked at all. The Empress remarks that Min thinks herself high and there is an element of truth in this: she has risen high and it has left its mark.

The Seanchan are very careful about infiltrators and assassins; but they have already been infiltrated by Moghedien. Min reluctantly admits the Seanchan are well-organised. She makes excuses for Bryne’s army, but he had the rebels’ army neat and organised, so this may be a symptom of his Compulsion rather than solely an effect of being fired upon. The Empress’ army stands ready, but they take time to make measured decisions along the chain of command, which Min chafes at. She repeatedly comments that the Seanchan could make a big difference to the battle—and so they will, because they aren’t in the control of a general under Compulsion. Part of Min’s mood derives from her resentment that she is not with Rand at Shayol Ghul. She feels insignificant because she is not a channeller; she does not have a proper position in the war, or outside it—but soon will.

Mat thinks well of Bryne’s defensive positions, and Tylee is happy to lead a legion onto the field so she can study hiss methods. The Seanchan, Mat included, make no criticism of Bryne yet. He has worked his troops hard, but well, and tired them out. Soon will come the “errors”.

Our seeress is not surprised Mat has an eye-patch… Interestingly, Mat sees Min as an opportunity for some insight into the future. He wants to know what the omens are! The Raven Prince (and he is very much that now) thinks the Seanchan are mad, but fun. Min thinks Mat is mad to enjoy teasing them, or even living with them. As a trickster, he likes stirring them up and making them uneasy by flouting their rules. Mat loves the challenge of finding loopholes in rules or ignoring customs, and the Seanchan have a lot of both. But the outsider is also an insider, now—he has embraced his high position.

Ironically, Mat spouts old tongue sayings he’s never read or heard, while claiming others are mad. Then he complains about people not reading widely enough to recognise his quotes, when he rarely touches a book himself.

Min grudgingly bows to the Empress while Mat doesn’t. Mat is the butt of his own joke about embarrassing himself:

"How curious," Fortuona said. "That would make her your equal, Knotai. Of course, you seem to have forgotten to bow again…You embarrass me in public again."

"Only as much as I embarrass myself." He smiled, then hesitated, as if thinking through those words a second time.

A Memory of Light, Friendly Fire

There is a point to social rules, and a fine line between “rules are unimportant to me” and “I don’t understand how this society works”.

Mat tries to get Min to leave the room in case the Empress realises what she does and grabs her for her own, but Min blabs on unthinkingly, despite his warning. Now she has a new job—as a sacred woman, an oracle. She is shocked she made such a simple mistake, but Mat’s ta’veren pull played a part. Min is needed here. Tuon is in awe of her—the only time we see such a reaction to someone from her. With her regard for omens and the Pattern she sees Min as blessed to be able to see parts of it, and also a blessing to impart these visions to her. Fortuona also gives Mat huge credit for telling her about Min.

Min was not asked if she wanted to join Tuon’s court, just co-opted, as Mat warned, even though Tuon knows Min is Rand’s love (and also Bryne’s messenger, but she was not told that). A true truthspeaker was not an omen Tuon could ignore. Even better, Selucia will be pleased to not be Sofeia anymore.

Monday, May 8, 2017

A Memory of Light Read-through #29: Chapter 26—Considerations


By Linda

Egwene POV

Until the advent of the Sharans, Egwene had thought the Seanchan one of the worse groups around. Like the Whitecloaks, she will ally against those she is against because of something that is actually far worse.

The Amyrlin is not willingly meeting with Tuon; she is going because Tuon demanded it.

"I needed to meet you," Fortuona said. "You are my opposite.”

A Memory of Light, Considerations

Egwene had expected that Rand’s treaty with the Seanchan would be enough. She assumed Tuon was childish because of her small size, but revised her opinion so far during the meeting that she called Tuon “woman”. Then she stopped Tuon making a speech at her—even though it was in her own voice. Egwene was deaf to the honour of the latter.

The two women quickly get to the crux of their enmity: damane. Egwene argues that her behaviour is proof that the Seanchan attitude to channellers is a fallacy. (While ever the Aes Sedai do not go out into the community and improve lives with their knowledge and ability, they are vulnerable to being forced to do so. This is why the Wise Ones said that those who can channel have an obligation to their people and make such women become Wise Ones.) Tuon lies about how well damane are treated, but Egwene has first-hand knowledge to the contrary (and post-traumatic stress disorder from it). Egwene did go out into the community to help Rand and this is what happened. Had she led a life of shelter, and ultimately privilege, in the Tower, she could never have countered Tuon’s arguments so well—or done many other things.

Tuon thinks she loses face speaking to an escaped damane—shock horror!—but to the Aes Sedai and the reader she lost face by lying. Especially since Egwene had just finished saying that her behaviour shows that Tuon is a liar about channellers with the spark.

Egwene assumes that Mat is playing a part to some end or has been trapped by the Seanchan—she, in turn, is shocked to discover he is with the Seanchan willingly. The incongruity of the pairing (the Queen of Spades (Tuon) with the Jack of Diamonds (Mat), so to speak) makes her laugh. More incongruity follows when Tuon says they were fated to marry and then that belief in ta’veren is mere superstition. Obviously no damane has the rare ability to see ta’veren, or, as Jordan indicates, channelling talents are influenced by the culture and society:

”Certain groups are better at some abilities but it's a matter of need. The Atha'an Miere are dependent on the sea, the wind and water, and it would be natural for them to develop high skills to deal with control of weather and winds. For the Aiel, Dreaming is one of the ways to find new water; using need is how they find water. When the population in a hold is too great, and they have to find a new hold, the Dreamwalker uses need to find it. So yes, there are more Dreamwalkers there. “

2006 book signing

Mat’s sour joke:

"I suppose I should be grateful the Pattern didn't haul me by my boots over to Shayol Ghul.”

A Memory of Light, Considerations

is foreshadowing that he will be heading that way.

Egwene argues minutely over what the Seanchan borders currently are, and succeeds in getting Tuon to admit that the Seanchan haven’t conquered the Sea Folk. The Empress very much wants legitimacy for her rule in the westlands because she claims her right to rule as deriving from being a descendent of Hawkwing rather than an invader.

Tuon insists on the right to recruit for damane in areas she doesn’t hold. In turn, Egwene insists on some equality—or balance—in the rules: especially in damane having the right to be released if they wish, especially women about to be collared. The Seanchan see damane as a resource to be used. Further, Tuon thinks it is better to collar Darkfriend channellers or Sharans than execute them. The Empress effectively sees such damane as bound by the a’dam against committing further crimes (whether or not she knows about binders being used in the Age of Legends), whereas Egwene sees those allied to the Shadow as having betrayed the Creator and no longer deserving of life. They may receive the Creator’s grace in another life—as Egwene thinks about Sheriam when she is executed.

Perhaps the Pattern would be kinder to her next time she was allowed a thread in its great tapestry. But perhaps not.

The Gathering Storm, The Tower Stands

When Tuon denies that sul’dam can learn to channel, Egwene challenges her to be tested. Tuon backs off and says maybe they can learn, but this is not the same as actually channelling. Of course, those with spark may not have actually channelled when they are found during their testing, but they are collared regardless and never given the benefit of the doubt. Neither woman explores this important issue, because they are preoccupied with escalating their challenges to each other until they have to be separated by Mat.

The Raven Prince is all too accurate when he says to his wife:

“we really bloody need Egwene for the next couple of weeks or so. “

A Memory of Light, Considerations

That’s about all the time Egwene had left to live.

An agreement is reached: the Seanchan will fight, but their army is not subject to Egwene. However, in the near future all the armies are going to be subject to a—the—Seanchan general: Mat. Then the two really will be as one for the Last Battle, as the Aelfinn advised Rand:

“The north and east must be as one. The west and south must be as one. The two must be as one.”

Knife of Dreams, News For the Dragon



Elayne POV

Elayne worked herself to exhaustion fighting Shadowspawn. Symbolically, while she was incapacitated, the sunny sky that has followed her since Rand’s epiphany clouded over. Or maybe it was due to the approaching Shadowspawn army that will threaten her.

Just as her army’s trap appears to be working, the second Trolloc army arrives early and without warning. All Bashere’s suggestions to counter this are futile, and Tam accuses him of being a Darkfriend. Elayne notices he isn’t behaving properly. When Bashere is arrested, Elayne is too focussed on salvaging the situation to react.