Monday, November 28, 2011

The Theme of Living Dead



By Linda



The theme of the living dead began in the early books with Grey Men and Zomaran, then the restoration of dead Forsaken in Lord of Chaos and the appearance of ghosts in Crossroads of Twilight, and is more prominent than ever in The Gathering Storm and Towers of Midnight. The weakening of the distinction between living and dead is part of the wrongness the Shadow brings to combat the Light, balancing creation with destruction and natural with unnatural (the subject of my next essay).

Doomsday, a time of Judgement, literally approaches; heralded by the Last Trump, in this case the Horn of Valere summoning dead Heroes. We had a trial run in The Great Hunt to confirm Mat as the Hornblower and summoner of the Dead. The Dark One as Lord of the Grave has increased his touch on the world and so his henchman Death has also been granted, or obtained, more power. However the Light’s King of the Dead, Mat, and his Queen, Tuon (a name associated with the Underworld; see Mat and Tuon essays), have likewise gained in influence, and Fain, Mat’s dark opposite, has developed some impressive living death and death dealing powers.


The Unquiet Dead

Ghosts have been appearing since Crossroads of Twilight,, a sign that Tarmon Gai’don is near:

"Taim very likely will have to wait on the Last Battle, whatever he's about," Verin said suddenly. Her knitting, a shapeless lump that might have been anything, sat in her lap. "It will come soon. According to everything I've read on the subject, the signs are quite clear. Half the servants have recognized dead people in the halls, people they knew alive. It's happened often enough that they aren't frightened by it any longer. And a dozen men moving the cattle to spring pasture watched a considerable town melt into mist just a few miles to the north."

- Knife of Dreams, News for the Dragon

The dead walking are due to the Dark One loosening the Pattern and changing reality. As Lord of the Grave, he has influence over the dead and aims to break the Pattern, so everyone, perhaps even his Elect, will be dead.

In the Tower:

Women were seen walking out of walls, or into them, often in dresses of old-fashioned cut, sometimes in bizarre garb, dresses that seemed simply lengths of brightly colored cloth folded around the body, embroidered ankle-length tabards worn over wide trousers, stranger things still. Light, when could any woman have wanted to wear a dress that left her bosom completely exposed? Egwene was able to discuss it with Siuan in Tel'aran'rhiod, so she knew that these things were signs of the approach of Tarmon Gai'don. An unpleasant thought, yet there was nothing to be done about it. What was, was, and it was not as if Rand himself was not a herald of the Last Battle.

- Knife of Dreams, Honey in the Tea

Rand himself is associated with a rise of the dead - both quiet and unquiet. Nynaeve, Cadsuane, Merise and Corele observed a procession of about 200 people walking around the city wall of Bandar Eban carrying a coffin. The apparition occurred nightly after Rand arrived. As it foreshadowed, Rand did bring death to the city, in part due to his deficiencies as a ruler.

Even the Ogier, those champions of naturalness and rightness, have experienced the living dead. The first of these was Trayal, whose mind/soul was destroyed by the Black Wind.

Loial reports that Ogier dead are now standing outside the stedding looking in. Perhaps they can’t enter a stedding. Things of the Shadow are very reluctant to enter such places – they are almost unable to - and apparitions have the Dark One’s touch. The only apparitions that are not ‘wrong’ are those called by the Horn.


King and Queen of the Dead

Mat was aware of ghosts walking before the other members of the menagerie were: for example on the road into Jurador Mat saw ghosts but Tuon and Seleucia saw nothing (Crossroads of Twilight, Something Flickers).

As King of the Dead, Mat has witnessed and avoided two deathtraps. In Altara he and his companions encountered a sizeable village. Mat noticed that it had no surrounding farms and its inhabitants ignored the menagerie and a peddler and called a halt. The peddler’s animals started screaming in terror.

Hat in hand, the round peddler leaped down to see what was the matter with his horses.
Landing, [the peddlar] lurched awkwardly and looked down toward his feet. His hat fell from his hand, landing on the hardpacked road. That was when he began screaming. The paving stones were gone, and he was ankle-deep in the road, just like his shrieking horses. Ankle deep and sinking into rock-hard clay as if into a bog, just like his horses and his wagon. And the village, houses and people melting slowly into the ground. The people never stopped what they were doing. Women walked along carrying baskets, a line of men carried a large timber on their shoulders, children darted about, the fellow at the grindstone continued sharpening his hatchet, all of them nearly knee-deep in the ground by this time…
Would the man die, or was he being carried to wherever those dead Shiotans were going? That was what had caught him about those buildings. That was how country people had built in Shiota for near enough three hundred years…
When the last of the thatched rooftops and tall chimneys melted away. Mat let out a long breath. Where the village had been was another meadow decked out in cat daisies and jumpups where red and yellow butterflies fluttered from blossom to blossom. So peaceful. He wished he could believe the peddler was dead.

- Knife of Dreams, A Village in Shiota

This is a murderous apparition. The ghosts descended into the earth, the underworld, taking a live man and his horses with them. And it all occurred in front of the King of the Underworld, whose party was safe, thanks to his warning.

In The Gathering Storm, Mat went to a town of living dead, Hinderstap.

"We aren't sure if it was something we did, or just a cruel curse by the Dark One himself," the mayor said.
"It was a normal day, early this year, just before the Feast of Abram. Nothing really special about it that I can remember. The weather had broken by then, though the snows hadn't come yet. A lot of us went about our normal activities the next morning, thinking nothing of it.
"The oddities were small, you see. A broken door here, a rip in someone's clothing they didn't remember. And the nightmares. We all shared them, nightmares of death and killing. A few of the women started talking, and they realized that they couldn't remember turning in the previous evening. They could remember waking, safe and comfortable in their beds, but only a few remembered actually getting into bed. Those who could remember had gone to sleep early, before sunset. For the rest of us, the late evening was just a blur."

- The Gathering Storm, Night in Hinderstap

The town’s inhabitants kill each other and any visitors each night, but are returned to ‘life’ each morning with the visitors they killed trapped with them. Any inhabitants who leave are returned to the town in the night. Even suicide doesn’t work as an escape route. Objects, however, retain any physical damage and must be repaired. (It’s like the reverse of Tel’aran’rhiod, the World of Dreams, where objects aren’t affected long term by changes, but beings are totally affected by any change to them. What happens in Tel’aran’rhiod seems real, but what happens in Hinderstap in the night seems like a dream, albeit a very bad one, and fades).

As Thom explains:

"It's just . . . well, it's a sad tale. Something's wrong in the world.
There's a snag in the Pattern here. The town unravels at night, and then the world tries to reset it each morning to make things right again."

- The Gathering Storm, Night in Hinderstap

"It's as if the darkness itself intoxicates them," Thorn said while Mat helped Delarn into his saddle. "As if Light itself has forsaken them, leaving them only to the Shadow...."

- The Gathering Storm, Night in Hinderstap

The Light’s King of the Dead (see Mat essay), got his own people out of the town alive (apart from three soldiers) and therefore out of the loop. Mat called the dead Heroes to battle at Falme and will do so again, and has worked out how those unable to channel can kill large numbers of people, even channellers. No wonder some people in Andor say that Mat is the Dark One:

No, that was the Dark One. No, Mat was the Dark One!

Towers of Midnight, The End of a Legend

a blurring of the Light and Dark Kings of the Dead. On the other hand, the Seanchan believe Mat’s band itself may be spirits:

I know we've killed some [of Mat’s soldiers]—the reports claim it, at least—but they don't even leave their dead behind. Some fools have begun whispering that we're fighting spirits." Fools he might consider them, but the fingers of his left hand hooked in a sign to ward off evil.

- Knife of Dreams, A Cup of Kaf

Recently Mat received a letter from a woman thought to be dead, and another from a woman under a double death sentence: so she could betray the Dark One and for being a Darkfriend. Their ‘dead’ status is the first thing each letter affirms. Mat, like Anubis, the Ancient Egyptian god who weighs the dead, has to weigh these women and their requests to choose which to fulfil. This fits in with the Doomsday/Last Judgement theme.

Mat has similarities to real world Kings of the Underworld due to the frequency he has visited the infernal Otherworld of the ‘Finns, his escape from the living dead in Hinderstap, his witnessing of the peddler being dragged alive to the Underworld with the phantom Shiotan village, his survival of hanging and later being struck by lightning, his role as son of battles and the summoner of the dead Heroes of the Horn and the respect he quickly gained from Tuon’s Deathwatch Guard.

In The Gathering Storm,Mat’s consort Tuon as Queen of the Dead actually sent out what are effectively living dead, assassins she declared dead with her blessing to do her bidding as though they were shades from the Underworld. The bloodknives are like the Lord of the Grave’s Grey Men but are not soulless.

She expects death at every turn and embraces it; she

had been dodging assassinations since she could walk, and she had survived them all. She anticipated them. In a way, she thrived because of them.

- The Gathering Storm,

Only the Queen of the Underworld would thrive on death attempts.

Despite the vigilance of the Deathwatch Guard, Tuon has been declared dead twice before:

Only a few were aware that she had vanished twice before, and had been reported dead, to the very arrangement of her funeral rites, all by her own contriving. Whatever the reasons for her disappearance, though, he had to find and protect her. So far he had no clue how. Swallowed by the storm. Or perhaps by the Lady of the Shadows [Death]. There had been countless attempts to kidnap or assassinate her, beginning on the day of her birth.

- Crossroads of Twilight, The Tale of a Doll

Considering how often ‘three times makes true’ in the Wheel of Time series, there will probably be a third time Tuon is given up for dead. If her ability to channel is discovered before the Seanchan change their attitude to channellers, she, like all damane, will become an unperson, struck from the rolls as though she had never existed. For now, her people will continually wish her as Empress to live forever – the Queen of the Dead does not die? Though when she finally begins to channel, Tuon potentially could live for what seems like forever to the average person.

She declared ‘Tuon’ dead in The Gathering Storm, but Tuon is not exactly dead, her old name is still contained within her new name.

Tuon is not a goddess of death (that is Semirhage, see Semirhage essay, and it is appropriate that the Seanchan refer to death as the Lady of the Shadows, when such a female mass murderer lived among them at their rulers’ side) but she is Queen of the Underworld having been touched by death so many times and lived with death at her shoulder. In many mythologies they are two different roles, as they are here.


Rand

Rather than avoiding or eluding them, Rand has destroyed or incapacitated the living dead close by him: Grey Men in the early books, most recently he balefired Semirhage so she can’t be rebirthed by the Dark One, killed the rebirthed Aran’gar thanks to Graendal, and seriously sapped the spirit and energy of Moridin through second-hand pain and despair (an unintended side-effect of Death’s own strategy). Rand has destroyed one long dead city and exposed another. Only the dead at a distance to Rand appeared unhindered by him: for instance the ghostly funeral procession in Arad Doman that Nynaeve, Cadsuane and co saw.

Yet Rand, too, is a dead man walking, being destined to make the ultimate sacrifice for the world and thereby, even more pertinent to this theme, to live by dying. It has brought him to despair and contemplation of mass annihilation once already. If Rand fails in such a way that the Dark One wins, time itself will be killed and Rand’s soul will never be reborn again.

Another example of the blurring of the living and the dead is Rand’s awareness of memories from his past lives, something Nynaeve thinks is not good:

Memories from another life, memories he had no right to. There was a reason the Creator allowed them to forget their past lives.

The Gathering Storm, A Conversation With the Dragon

Other Asha’man also hear voices from their previous incarnations, which Cadsuane thought was due to the taint on saidin. Moridin, the Forsaken most affected by the Dark One’s touch by virtue of his extensive usage of the True Power, also claims to recall some of his past lives, though not to the extent that Rand has:

I know every name you have used through Age after Age, long before you were even the Kinslayer." Ba'alzamon s voice began to rise in intensity; sometimes the fires of his eyes flared so high that Rand could see them through the openings in the silk mask, see them like endless seas of flame. "I know you, know your blood and your line back to the first spark of life that ever was, back to the First Moment…The battle we two have fought-do you remember any part of that? Do you have any glimmering that we have fought before, battles without number back to the beginning of Time? I know much that you do not! That battle will soon end. The Last Battle is coming. The last, Lews Therin. Do you really think you can avoid it? You poor, shivering worm. You will serve me or die! And this time the cycle will not begin anew with your death. The grave belongs to the Great Lord of the Dark. This time if you die, you will be destroyed utterly.

The Great Hunt, Kinslayer

That troubled him sometimes, enraged him, what knowledge might be lost in the turnings of the Wheel, knowledge he needed, knowledge he had a right to. A right!

The Path of Daggers, Deceptive Appearances

At the climax of The Gathering Storm, when Rand had his epiphany:

He remembered lives, hundreds of them, thousands of them, stretching to infinity.

The Gathering Storm, Veins of Gold


Fain

In The Eye of the World, Fain merged with the parasitic and long dead soul of Mordeth which lingered as a ghost in Shadar Logoth. Like other Underworld figures in the series, his powers have increased greatly, and he now deals instant death to Myrddraal, but those Trollocs he kills rise from the dead to do his bidding:

The mist struck.
It rolled over the Trollocs, moving quickly, like the tentacles of a leviathan in the
Aryth Ocean. Lengths of it snapped forward through Trolloc chests. One long rope whipped above their heads, then shot forward in a blur, taking the Fade in the neck.
The Trollocs screamed, dropping, spasming. Their hair fell out in patches, and their skin began to boil. Blisters and cysts. When those popped, they left craterlike pocks in the Shadowspawn skin, like bubbles on the surface of metal that cooled too quickly…
The corrupted Trollocs climbed to their feet behind him, lurching into motion, spittle dropping from their lips. Their eyes had grown sluggish and dull, but when he desired it, they would respond with a frenzied battle lust that would surpass what they had known in life.
He left the Myrddraal. It would not rise, as rumors said they did. His touch now brought instant death to one of its kind.

Towers of Midnight, Prologue

It is as though Fain/Mordeth takes the place of the Myrddraal the Trollocs were linked to, but in a far more effective way. In his efforts to fight evil, Mordeth out-Shadowed the Shadow and is now openly using them as his own.


Creatures of the Shadow

The Shadow can and do turn channellers to their side with weaves created by thirteen Dreadlords filtered through thirteen Myrddraal, and like Fain’s turned Trollocs, such turned channellers are both corrupted and dead-seeming:

And he saw what Norley had seen. Something was deeply wrong, something not quite alive inside those eyes. This didn't seem to be a man, but a parody of one. A shadow stuffed inside human skin.

Towers of Midnight, Something Wrong

Tarna smiled, a grimace that looked completely unnatural on her face. Like the smile on the lips of a corpse…The coldness-almost lifelessness-she'd seen in Tarna's eyes still chilled her.

Towers of Midnight, Gateways

The eyes are “windows to the soul” and in these people they look dead. This is more than the dazed or fogged look seen on those under heavy Compulsion (see below).

Grey Men are Darkfriends who, in the ultimate act of dedication, give their souls away to the Dark One so they can be more effective as assassins. Alive but with their humanity extinguished, they blend in with background. As Egwene dreamed in The Dragon Reborn, Fires in Cairhien, they are not really there. They are alive, but lifeless and we have never heard one speak.

Lanfear tells us that Grey Men and Myrddraal are denied dreams (The Dragon Reborn, Daughter of the Night). Grey Men are not truly alive; Myrddraal are “slightly out of phase with time and reality”. Fain may be a more effective compeller of Trollocs than a Myrddraal is because he is most definitely in phase with time, even if he isn’t with reality.

Another example of the living dead are the zomaran, a type of Shadowspawn created by Aginor. They have the appearance of identical, beautiful young men and women but with dead and soulless eyes:

He smiled, but it did not touch his black eyes, eyes more lifeless than simply dead. Most men would have felt uncomfortable having that gaze on them. Moridin merely took the goblet and motioned the servant away.

The Path of Daggers, Deceptive Appearances

Naturally the dead – quiet or unquiet – hold no fears for Death. He uses Zomaran, who have limited ability to read minds and only short term memory, as servants – and reliable spies.

The gholam is a construct of the Shadow which is almost unkillable, being impervious to magic and most physical attacks. It looks like an ordinary human but is hugely stronger and has no bones. Mat hopes that it is falling endlessly through the void in a living death.

Slayer is a being with two souls in one body after the other body died. Not that we know which lived and which died.

During the merger of Luc and Isam, Slayer was extensively revamped by the Dark One, being given special powers, including the ability to enter Tel'aran'rhiod at will. However, immunity to weapons and poison was not one of these abilities. So both Isam and Luc exist, even though one of them died, but they are not unkillable.


Forsaken

The Forsaken like to overpower the mind and will of people with Compulsion to a greater or lesser degree. A complex weave that is placed on the brain in layers, Compulsion makes the victim feel love, devotion or worship for the channeller. It can be varied in extent from mindless devotion, which erases mind and personality, to subtle influence.

Graendal is a prolific user of all grades of Compulsion and is very skilled at it. After all, she studied mental illness, including that which cannot be treated with the One Power, prior to turning to the Shadow. For short term aims she usually uses the mild version of Compulsion, although she struck heavily at Moghedien and Cyndane with it in The Path of Daggers. Her servants however usually have their minds obliterated:

The only minions she’d let out of her sight were under Compulsion so heavy that it would kill them to remove it.

Towers of Midnight, Prologue

There was no real person in this head, only layered weaves of Compulsion.
Instructions cleverly designed to wipe whatever personality this poor wretch had and replace it with a creature who would act exactly as Graendal wished…
His eyes weren't blank from being dazed as she'd thought; they were more empty than that. When Nynaeve had been younger, new to her role as Wisdom, a woman had been brought to her who had fallen off of her wagon. The woman had slept for days, and when she'd finally awoken, she'd had a stare like this one. No hint that she recognized anyone, no clue that there was any soul left in the husk that was her body.
She'd died about a week later…
"You needn't bother," Rand said. "He is dead."
Nynaeve confirmed the death for herself. Then she snapped her head up, looking at Rand. What right did he have to look as exhausted as she felt? He had done barely anything! "What did you—"
"I did nothing, Nynaeve. I suspect that once you removed that Compulsion, the only thing keeping him alive was his anger at Graendal, buried deeply. Whatever bit of himself remained, it knew the only help it could give were those two words. After that, he just let go. There was nothing more we could do for him."

The Gathering Storm, A Conversation with the Dragon

Consequently Rand considered Graendal’s pets already dead before he killed them:

"There looked to have been dozens, maybe hundreds, of people living in that palace!"
"Each one made into an idiot by Graendal's Compulsion," Rand replied. "She never lets anyone close to her without destroying their mind first. The boy she sent to work the jail barely knew a fraction of the torture most of her pets receive. She leaves them without ability to think or act—all they can do is kneel and adore her, perhaps run errands at her command. I did them a favor."

The Gathering Storm, A Force of Light

Living dead, and considering what happened to Kerb when Nynaeve removed Graendal’s Compulsion he had a point.

The Forsaken are part of the theme of the living dead. Four of them were reincarnated. Rand and Ishamael are linked by the way they have witnessed each other die - and been a crucial participant in that death:

"You [Ishamael] are dead," Rand repeated stubbornly.
"So are you. I watched you die, you know. Lashing out in a tempest, creating an entire mountain to mark your cairn…[after he brought Lews Therin the knowledge of what he had done]
Another name for the Dark One was Lord of the Grave. Yes, it was true, even if Rand wished he could deny it. Why should he be surprised to see his enemies return, when the Dark One could restore the dead to life?

The Gathering Storm, A Place to Begin

As Cyndane and mind-trapped, Lanfear wishes she were dead, or perhaps had stayed dead. Death tortures her each day and Heals her when she is about to die - or so she claims. After losing a battle of wills with Egwene in Tel’aran’rhiod, Mesaana is now living dead. She is as mindless as Trayal.

The death goddess Semirhage was killed in The Gathering Storm. She tortured an entire city during the War of Power, made thousands of people assist in breaking each other slowly, just for the Hell of it.

Even prior to his reincarnation as Moridin (Death), Ishamael told Rand “The dead belong to me!" in The Eye of the World,, The Stag and Lion, and he did manipulate Howal Gode’s shade after Rand killed the Darkfriend.

The Death god Moridin not only now wishes he were dead, he wishes for everything to be annihilated. As Ishamael, Moridin once thought the end of time would liberate him and grant him power:

The death of time will bring me power such as you could not dream of, worm."

The Eye of the World, The Stag and Lion

But now that he is Death, he hopes that the end of time will mean the end of everything, including him:

"The only path is to follow the Great Lord and rule for a time before all things end. The others are fools. They look for grand rewards in the eternities, but there will be no eternities. Only the now, the last days."
He laughed again, and this time there was joy in it. True pleasure.

The Gathering Storm, A Place to Begin

After all, if there is nothing – when all is dead – there is nothing that can die. Death is no more:

Death, be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so;
For those whom thou thinkst thou dost overthrow
Die not, poor Death, nor yet canst thou kill me…
Thou art slave to Fate, Chance, kings, and desperate men,
And dost with poison, war, and sickness dwell,
And poppies or charms can make us sleep as well
And better than thy stroke. Why swellst thou then?
One short sleep past, we wake eternally,
And death shall be no more; Death, thou shalt die!

John Donne

As an example of how both sides have been affected by the Dark One’s efforts to undermine the Pattern and manipulate all to his side, Death, the Lord of the Grave’s champion and his opposite, the Creator’s champion, companionably sit and listen to rats dying in the heat of a corrupt fire:

Moridin snorted softly, but said nothing. Rand turned back to the flames, watching them twist and flicker.
They formed shapes, like the clouds, but these were headless bodies, skeletal, backs arching in pain, writhing for a moment in fire, spasming, before flashing into nothing.
Rand watched that fire for a time, thinking. One might have thought that they were two old friends, enjoying the warmth of a winter hearth. Except that the flames gave no heat, and Rand would someday kill this man again. Or die at his hands.

The Gathering Storm, A Place to Begin

And now we are at the Last Moment, “as close as an assassin, breathing his foul breath upon your neck as he slides his knife across your skin“ as Rand described it (The Gathering Storm, A Halo of Blackness), poised between living and dead.

These posts take quite a time to prepare, longer than a simple read-through post. I don't know when the next one will be finished, hopefully within the week, but it is on the theme of Wrongness.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

As Yet Unfulfilled Prophecies for A Memory of Light



By Linda



There are still quite a few unfulfilled prophecies, some of them quite mysterious and portentous and obviously relating to the Last Battle; others, more minor, may remain unfulfilled. They are divided according to soothsayer.


Prophecies of Dragon (mainland and Seanchan) (see here for full article with discussion and details)

  • The blood of the Dragon Reborn on the rocks of Shayol Ghul will free mankind from the Shadow.

  • His blood on the rocks of Shayol Ghul, washing away the Shadow, sacrifice for man's salvation.

  • What does it mean that he shall bind the nine moons to serve him?

  • “The Prophecies say I have to bind the nine moons to me.”

  • Light is held before the maw of the infinite void, and all that he is can be seized.

  • and the Blade will bind him by twain.

  • For one thing, he [the Dragon Reborn] must kneel to the Crystal Throne before Tarmon Gai'don.

  • He must bow before the Crystal Throne before the Last Battle can begin.

  • The prophecies clearly showed that the Empress would defeat those who served the Shadow, and then she would send the Dragon Reborn in to duel with Lighteater.



  • Aiel Prophecy (see here for full article)

  • “It says we will be changed, and find again what was ours, and was lost.”

  • “Melaine and Bair dreamed of you [Rand] on a boat with three women whose faces they could not see and a scale tilting first one way and then the other.”

  • “Melaine and Amys dreamed of a man standing by your side with a dagger to your throat, but you did not see him.”



  • Dark Prophecy (see here for full article)

  • Graendal and Moridin believe that one of its Prophecies foretells that the Shadow will succeed in killing Perrin. Moridin qualifies this by pointing out that the imagery in prophecies can have more than one interpretation (he wrote a book on Analysis of Perceived Meaning in the Age of Legends). Moreover he chose the prophecy that Graendal read. Earlier in the chapter he told Graendal that she would not succeed in killing Perrin, and he was right. This may have been his opinion or it could be that the details of the prophecy he thinks predicts Perrin’s death are obviously nothing to do with Graendal’s plot.

  • 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!



  • Egwene’s Dreams (see here for full article)

  • There had been a dream of him [Rand] walking down into a great hole in a black mountain, a hole filled with a reddish glare as from vast fires below

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

  • Rand holding a sword that blazed like the sun, till she could hardly see that it was a sword, could hardly make out that it was him at all.

  • Rand confronting her, and the women with her, and one of them was a Seanchan.

  • Rand in chains, and it was he who was screaming.

  • Several concerned Rand, not all bad, but all odd. Elayne, forcing him to his knees with one hand.

  • Logain, laughing, stepped across something on the ground and mounted a black stone; when she looked down, she thought it was Rand’s body he had stepped over, laid out on a funeral bier with his hands crossed at his breast, but when she touched his face, it broke apart like a puppet.

  • Rand, wearing different masks, until suddenly one of those false faces was no longer a mask, but him.

  • The vision changed. She saw an enormous sphere made of the finest crystal. It sparkled in the light of twenty-three enormous stars, shining down on it where it sat on a dark hilltop. There were cracks in it, and it was being held together by ropes. There was Rand, walking up the hillside, holding a woodsman's axe. He reached the top and hefted the axe, then swung at the ropes one at a time, chopping them free. The last one parted, and the sphere began to break apart, the beautiful globe falling in pieces. Rand shook his head.

  • There had been a dream of Mat and Seanchan, too, but she was willing to dismiss that as a nightmare.

  • Gawyn. Then she was standing in the road in front of him, and he reined in. Not because he saw her, this time, but the road that had been straight now forked right where she stood, running over tall hills so no one could see what lay beyond. She knew, though. Down one fork was his violent death, down the other, a long life and a death in bed. On one path, he would marry her, on the other, not. She knew what lay ahead, but not which way led to which. Suddenly he did see her, or seemed to, and smiled, and turned his horse along one of the forks…

  • A dream of a storm, great dark clouds rolling without wind or rain, while lighting forks, every one identical, rent the earth.

  • A golden hawk stretched out its wing and touched her, and she and the hawk were tied together somehow; all she knew was that the hawk was female.

  • She [Egwene] was struggling up a narrow, rocky path along the face of a towering cliff. Clouds surrounded her, hiding the ground below and the crest above, yet she knew that both were very far away. She had to place her feet very carefully. The path was a cracked ledge barely wide enough for her to stand on with one shoulder pressed against the cliff, a ledge littered with stones as large as her fist that could turn under a misplaced step and send her hurtling over the edge. It almost seemed this was like the dreams of pushing millstones and pulling carts, yet she knew it was a true dream.
    Abruptly, the ledge dropped away from under her with the crack of crumbling stone, and she caught frantically at the cliff, fingers scrabbling to find a hold. Her fingertips slid into a tiny crevice, and her fall stopped with a jolt that wrenched her arms. Feet dangling into the clouds, she listened to the falling stone crash against the cliff until the sound faded to nothing without the stone ever hitting the ground. Dimly, she could see the broken ledge to her left. Ten feet away, it might as well have been a mile off for all the chance she had of reaching it. In the other direction, the mists hid whatever remained of the path, but she thought it had to be farther away still. There was no strength in her arms. She could not pull herself up, only hang there by her fingertips until she fell. The edge of the crevice seemed as sharp as a knife under her fingers.
    Suddenly a woman appeared, clambering down the sheer side of the cliff out of the clouds, making her way as deftly as if she were walking down stairs. There was a sword strapped to her back. Her face wavered, never settling clearly, but the sword seemed as solid as the stone. The woman reached Egwene’s level and held out one hand. “We can reach the top together,” she said in a familiar drawling accent…
    She had dreamed of a Seanchan before, a Seanchan woman somehow tied to her, but this was a Seanchan who would save her.

  • A man lay dying in a narrow bed, and it was important he not die, yet outside a funeral pyre was being built, and voices raised songs of joy and sadness.

  • Everything shook. The room of past and present seemed to shatter, shredding into swirling smoke. Egwene stepped back, gasping, as Gawyn ripped apart as if made of sand. All was dust around her, and thirteen black towers rose in the distance beneath a tarlike sky.
    One fell, and then another, crashing to the ground. As they did, the ones that remained grew taller and taller. The ground shook as several more towers fell.
    Another tower shook and cracked, collapsing most of the way to the ground—but then it recovered and grew tallest of all.
    At the end of the quake, six towers remained, looming above her. Egwene had fallen to the ground, which had become soft earth covered in withered leaves.



  • Foretellings (see here for full article)

  • “The Black Tower will be rent in blood and fire, and sisters will walk its grounds.”

  • "The lion sword, the dedicated spear, she who sees beyond. Three on the boat, and he who is dead yet lives. The great battle done, but the world not done with battle. The land divided by the return, and the guardians balance the servants. The future teeters on the edge of a blade.”

  • “battles with the Seanchan or the Asha’man, the Dragon Reborn doing nine impossible things”



  • Min’s Viewings (see here for full article)

  • “a bloody hand and a white-hot iron, three women standing over a funeral bier with you on it, black rock wet with blood. . .”

  • “Twice he’s [Perrin] going to have to be there, or you…If he’s not, something bad will happen to you. Very bad.”

  • “I saw you [Rand] and another man. I couldn’t make out either face, but I knew one was you. You touched, and seemed to merge into one another, and…” Her mouth tightened worriedly, and she went on in a very small voice.” I don’t know what it means, Rand, except one of you dies, and one doesn’t.”

  • An open cavern, gaping like a mouth. Bloodstained rocks. Two dead men on the ground, surrounded by ranks and ranks of Trollocs, a pipe with smoke curling from it.

  • “I see you [Rand], a brilliant white sword held in your hand, wielded against one of black, held by a faceless darkness.”

  • A glowing sword, Callandor, being gripped in a black hand. She gasped.
    "What did you see?" Rand asked softly.
    "Callandor, held in a fist. The hand looks to be made of onyx."…

  • “a broken crown, and trees flowering all around him [Perrin].”

  • and above Elayne's [head], a red-hot iron and an axe. They meant trouble, she was sure, but it seemed distant, somewhere in the future.

  • what was that vision that was suddenly hovering above Nynaeve's head? She was kneeling over someone's corpse in a posture of grief.

  • Another Accepted came to replace one already there, and to Min’s eyes bars floated in front of her apple-cheeked face, like a cage.

  • Suddenly, for a moment, that flaring halo of gold and blue shone about his [Logain’s] .

  • “You’d think, if there was any justice, she [Faolain] would have an unpleasant future ahead of her.”

  • An image flickered above Enaila’s head and was gone. A wreath of some sort.

  • Maraconn and Gueyam were going to die too, bloody deaths in battle, Min thought.

  • “one day you [Harine] will be the Mistress of the Ships.”

  • “It’s Cadsuane. She is going to teach you something, you and the Asha’man. All the Asha’man, I mean. It’s something you have to learn, but I don’t know what it is, except that none of you will like learning it from her. You aren’t going to like it at all.”

  • the black knife that spun around Beldeine's head recently could mean anything.

  • a tempestuous love affair, of all things! The woman [Sarene] was ice, however beautiful. And there was nothing useful in knowing some man would melt her!

  • One red-and-green aura spoke of honours, and fame. A huge building appeared above her [Nesune’s] head and vanished. A library she would found.

  • Among all those images spilling around Rand and the women, suddenly an aura flashed, blue and yellow tinged with green, encompassing them all [Sorilea, Erian, Elza, Beldeine, Sarene and Nesune]. And Min knew its meaning. She gasped, half in surprise, half in relief…
    “They will serve you, each in her fashion, Rand’” she said hurriedly. “I saw it.” Sorilea would serve him? Suddenly Min wondered exactly what “in her fashion” meant.

  • Aviendha would have Rand’s babies, too. Four of them at once! Something was odd about that, though. The babies would be healthy, but still something odd.

  • “But she [Alivia] is going to kill you.” She [Min] bit off every word.
    “You said she was going to help me die,” he [Rand] said quietly. “Those were your words”… “Helping me die isn’t the same as killing me,”

  • there’s something…dark…in the images I saw around Lord Davram. If he turns against you, or dies…

  • “Tenobia has a spear hovering over her head," Min said. "Bloody, but shining in the light, Ethenielle will soon be wed-I see that by white doves. She plans to do something dangerous today, so be careful. The other two have various swords, shields and arrows hovering about them. Both will fight soon.”

  • “I see dark clouds, pushed away by the sunlight's warmth... I see trees, growing green again, bearing fruit. I see a field, the crops healthy and full.” She hesitated. "I see the Two Rivers, Rand. I see an inn there with the mark of the Dragon's Fang inlaid on its door. No longer be a symbol of darkness or hate. A sign of victory and hope.”
    He looked to her.
    Min caught something from the corner of her eye. She turned toward the people sitting on the street, and gaped. Every single one had an image above them. It was remarkable to see so many viewings, all at once, flaring to light above the heads of the sickly, the weak, and the abandoned, "I see a silver axe above that man’s head," she said, pointing to a bearded beggar, who lay against a wall, his chin down against his chest. "He will be a leader in the Last Battle. That woman there—the one sulking in the shadows-—she will be trained by the White Tower and become Aes Sedai. I can see the Flame of Tar Valon beside her, and I know what it means. That man over there who looks like a simple street tough? He will save her life. I know he doesn't look like it, but he will fight. All of them will. I can see it!"
  • Thursday, November 10, 2011

    The "Little" Questions for A Memory of Light



    By Linda


    As well as the major questions regarding the activities of the villains, how the good guys will win, etc, there are plenty of lesser questions floating around. Here are a few that I would like answered in A Memory of Light:

    • What did the Tinker message “Tell the Dragon Reborn…” refer to?


    • Which King and Queen did the Black Ajah kill? Why? Galina was involved, therefore it was within the last 85 years.


    • Were there two gholams wandering around, or one?


    • Who has Rand’s angreal?


    • How did Marith Jaen, Siuan’s predecessor, die?


    • Why does Harine’s swordmaster know how to ride?


    • Did the Murandian mechanic ever get to Caemlyn and what did he do there?


    • What did Lanfear ask for in the *Finns' world in the Age of Legends? And this time? (Moiraine's questions and wishes and Rand's third question will surely all be revealed).


    • Who was the apple-cheeked Accepted that Min viewed as in a cage?


    • Why did Theodrin behave oddly when she was with the rebels?

    Tuesday, November 8, 2011

    Full Circle to A Memory of Light



    By Linda


    Minor characters we haven’t seen for a while that may reappear. I am assuming that important characters like Logain, Toveine and Gabrelle and Teslyn and Joline’s group will do so, and the various monarchs, nobles, high ranking Aes Sedai, and military generals and captains and high up Darkfriends.

    Here is the start of a list of quite minor characters that may make cameos in A Memory of Light:

    Nieda and Bili of Easing the Badger inn

    Three Two Rivers boys who ran off (Dav Ayellin, Ewin Finngar, and Elam Dowtry)

    Cauthon and al'Vere families

    Kari al'Thor (her soul)

    Cenn Buie

    Elyas

    Raen and Ila (Tinkers)

    Ailhuin Guenna (Tairen)

    Lini

    Murandian mechanical engineer who was going to Caemlyn - though Mat’s crossbows are already loading at modern speed

    Einor Saren if he wasn’t killed in the Questioners purge

    Dain Bornhald

    Almurat Mor the Seanchan seeker

    Tylee Kirghan

    Karede, Ajimbura and Musenge

    Tuon's favoured damane: Lidya, Dali and Dani, Charral, Sera, Mylen

    Yuril, Tuon's Hand that commands her Seekers

    Hartha, Seanchan Gardener

    Ronde Macura, discoverer of forkroot's effects on channellers

    Agni Neres, riverboat captain

    Kin Tovere, inventor

    Mervyn Poel, inventor

    Idrien Tarsin, head of Rand's school in Cairhien

    Laras, Queen of the White Tower Kitchens

    Uno Nomesta


    Black Ajah

    Rhianna Andomeran, Berylla Naron and Jeaine Caide sent on missions by Moghedien

    Falion Bhoda, Marillin Gemalphin,

    Liandrin

    Talene

    Duhara

    Fera


    Darkfriends

    Suroth

    Shiaine and Daven Hanlon

    Amellia and Jorin Arene

    Weiramon and Anaiyella

    Old Cully

    Elegar

    Nan Belman


    Aes Sedai

    Talaan and Merilille

    Coladara, Paitar Nachiman’s Aes Sedai

    Memara the Red who was sent to Saldaea


    I don't expect all of these characters to appear, but a fair selection may.

    Wednesday, November 2, 2011

    The Gathering Storm Read-Through #54: Epilogue - Bathed in Light



    By Linda


    WARNING: CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR TOWERS OF MIDNIGHT

    Egwene POV

    Egwene’s thoughts about her desk lamps are perhaps a dig at reviewers like myself:

    They were shaped like women holding their hands into the air, a burst of flame appearing in each set of palms. The calm yellow light reflected on the curves of their hands, arms and faces. Were they symbols of the White Tower and the Flame of Tar Valon? Or were they instead depictions of an Aes Sedai, weaving Fire? Perhaps they were simply relics of a previous Amyrlin's taste.

    The Gathering Storm, Bathed in Light

    suggesting that sometimes an object is itself and nothing more. Mind you, Egwene (and the author) omitted the suggestion that I would have made: the lamps might represent the Amyrlin and the Keeper working side by side; something there was very little of under Elaida’s reign. The lamps are decorative but functional. Egwene’s room is as austere as Elaida’s was opulent.

    The Aes Sedai are fearful of offending Egwene, perhaps overly so? I guess Elaida had everyone prepared for the worst sort of tyranny, and Egwene’s execution of a heap of (undoubtedly criminal) Aes Sedai have not thrown her in a kindly light either, and added to the fear, if anything.

    We never found out what was found among Elaida’s effects. Or even if they did get around to examining them. Or whether Egwene has questioned each Tower Aes Sedai yet. She plans to train damane as Aes Sedai, just as Nynaeve and Elayne encouraged the Kin to rehabilitate and re-humanise former damane.

    Egwene’s choice of a Red Keeper – from the antithesis of the Ajah she would have chosen – shows her relative political weakness. Or perhaps it forestalls developing political weakness.

    Nearly forty initiates, more than twenty four of them Aes Sedai, were captured by the Seanchan. Sixty Tower Black Ajah escaped, plus twenty more from rebels. Probably the escaped Black Ajah from the rebel camp warned those Blacks in the Tower. Over one hundred women have been lost to the Tower in a couple of days.

    Egwene deduces that Mesaana worked out a way to defeat the Oath Rod. The Forsaken was bold and rather courageous to take the calculated risk and stay to be tested. It may indicate how desperate Mesaana is for a personal victory for the Shadow.

    Silvana and Egwene found the sun shining on Dragonmount reassuring and comforting, so much so that Egwene wants the day marked. Interesting that innocents – novices, referred to as children – saw it first. It has been many weeks since the sun shone, since Rand was not dark. He is Sol Invictus, the unconquered sun here (see Rand essay), and is at his best in this role.

    The chapter begins with candlelight in the guise of channelled light and ends with the restoration of natural light – saidin and saidar turn the wheel, but they are a candle beside the Light of the World.


    Epigram

    The closing prophecy is from the Essanik Cycle. This is the first we learn that the Seanchan version of the Prophecies has a different name, and that they are different enough to have been separated not just from the mainland Prophecies, but from the original “native” Seanchan Prophecies of the Dragon.

    The many that become one at the end of time probably refers to the nations uniting together. As regards

    the last storm shall gather its angry winds to destroy a land already dying.
    And at its center, the blind man shall stand upon his own grave.
    There he shall see again, and weep for what has been wrought.

    The Gathering Storm, Bathed in Light

    The world is dying from being blighted by the Dark One. Rand is the last storm who in his rage at the world worked himself up into a tempest to destroy this failing world. He nearly failed the world himself.

    He is at the centre of the storm, standing on Dragonmount, which was created by Lews Therin as he died.

    Rand froze. The winds blew against him, but he could not be moved by them…All was still. Even with the tempest, the winds, the crashes of thunder. All was still.

    The Gathering Storm, Veins of Gold

    Rand was blind to the mistakes he was making and the corruption and madness he was carrying within him.

    We don’t see Rand weep on Dragonmount, though he was upset enough at what the world and he had come to. He was too angry. He laughed after his epiphany though. Laughter and tears – the things Cadsuane said Rand needed to re-learn or the world was doomed.