Sunday, December 23, 2012

Dagger with a Shadow Warding



When I made Aviendha's costume a few months ago, I intended to make the dagger ter'angreal that wards against the Shadow that she likes so much. Last weekend I finally did so, along with rebeading her necklace with silver thread.

The dagger is described as:

Aviendha fondled something she had retrieved from her belt pouch, a small dagger with a rough hilt of deerhorn wrapped in gold wire. It was also a ter'angreal, though Elayne had not been able to puzzle out what it did before pregnancy forced a halt to such studies. She had not known her sister was carrying the thing. Aviendha's eyes were almost dreamy as she stared at it. "Why does that fascinate you so?" Elayne asked. This was not the first time she had seen the other woman absorbed in that knife. Aviendha gave a start and blinked at the dagger in her hands. The iron blade—it looked like iron, at least, and felt almost like iron—had never been sharpened so far as Elayne could tell and was little longer than her palm, though wide in proportion. Even the point was too blunt for stabbing.

Knife of Dreams, A Different Skill

Aviendha's outfit is now complete.






Christmas Eve is well advanced here, and when my son finishes work in half an hour, we shall be on our way to visit relatives.

I wish all here a safe and happy festive season, and all the best for the New Year.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Nynaeve Outfit 1


By Linda

The second character in my Wheel of Time doll series to be costumed is Nynaeve. (The first was Aviendha). Nynaeve and Egwene were the first two dolls I bought and in typical fashion their travels from the US were not smooth. In fact, they went in completely the wrong direction, ending up in a post office in Jamaica, despite the parcel being clearly addressed to Australia.

I’ve chosen to sew Nynaeve’s first high status outfit, kindly given to her by Lady Amalisa in Shienar:

Her dress was pale blue silk, embroidered in snowdrop blossoms around the neck and down the sleeves. Each blossom centered on a small pearl, and her belt was tooled in silver, with a silver buckle set with pearls. He had never seen her in anything like that. Even feastday clothes back home might not match it.

The Great Hunt, Dark Prophecy

Rand’s description is clear, but na├»ve. With silk, pearls, and silver tooling, this is a very expensive outfit, which no one in the Two Rivers would be able to afford back then, even if they had anywhere to wear it.

As I explained in the Aviendha’s post, the dolls are quarter scale, which means fabric thickness, decoration, etc, should ideally also be at quarter scale. The garments are sewn by hand with silk thread, whenever I could get some that matched, since they are small and the fabrics are often delicate.


Underwear


First up was the creation of Nynaeve’s underwear. Such rich outer garments would be accompanied by equally luxurious underwear. Nynaeve’s shift is white habotai silk (see above left). It has French seams (fully enclosed seams), and neck and armholes bound in silk tape. The hem is trimmed in lace. Her petticoat (see above right) is white silk satin tied closed with silk ribbon instead of button and loop. It has lace around the hem matching that of her shift, with a row of chain stitch in white silk above the lace. Below left is Nynaeve in her shift, and the full ensemble below right.


Her ivory-coloured stockings are of a fine silk jersey. They have a seam up the back. Her shoes are purchased. I was able to find a pair that matched her outfit (see below). She got them off ebay like so many other young women.


Dress

As per Jordan’s description, Nynaeve’s dress is in pale blue silk with snowdrops embroidered around the neckline and down the sleeves. In the real world, snowdrops are pendant flowers yet Jordan specified that each flower centred on a pearl. This is not easy to reconcile. I attempted a full-scale version earlier on the year but could not get a design that made the description work, and sewed the flowers pressed open. This time I decided to let the flower hang from a sweetheart neckline from a wandering green stem to give a little bit of colour and value contrast.

I marked the outlines of the bodice and sleeve garment pieces on the blue silk, completed the embroidery and beading, then cut out the pieces and sewed them together. The pearls are from a broken vintage necklace. Then I constructed a bodice of pale blue silk chiffon as a lining and lined the sleeves and attached them.

Next was the skirt. It is 4 or 5 times Nynaeve’s waist measurement, and like the bodice, it is lined in chiffon. Both outer and liner have a French seam at the back and a rolled hem. The lining was placed inside the outer and the two were gathered at the waist as one and attached to the bodice. Finally buttons and buttonholed loop closures were sewn on a little distance from the opening edges. As was typical with these high status dresses, she cannot do it up herself, but would need someone to do it for her. Quite a contrast with Aiel clothing.

Nynaeve in her dress front and rear view are shown below.


Nynaeve’s belt is a pale blue ribbon (rather than leather which I couldn’t get thin enough) embroidered in silver thread in a design to match the dress, then another length of the ribbon sewn on the back. I made the buckle by buttonholing silver thread over an oval ring and buttonholed the cross bar, attaching pearl seed beads as I went (see photo below).



Shawl


Nynaeve didn’t have a Yellow Ajah shawl in The Great Hunt, of course. But then her hair wasn’t this short, either. This is Nynaeve after the battles, in a dress that I hope she managed to keep, it being in Lan’s favourite colours of blue, white and green. Nynaeve’s shawl is yellow, but it too is embroidered in these same colours. I’ve sewn forget-me-not like flowers, although with a trailing habit, in silk threads in satin, split back and French knot stitches on yellow dupion (see photo above). The flame of Tar Valon is a white silk satin applique. The fringe is made by unravelling the dupion fabric and making tassels out of the weft threads by looping them into a foundation of squared Palestrina knot stich, which was also sewn using the dupion’s unravelled threads. The shawl is lined in thin yellow silk satin.

Nynaeve in her full outfit front and back.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Wheel of Time Charity Drive


Waygate Foundation, which is dedicated to bringing together authors and fans of science fiction and fantasy in global charitable efforts, is running a charity drive for a sneak peek at the Wheel of Time encyclopaedia.

Waygate Foundation: A Story Begins... 


Waygate Foundation is excited to announce our “A Story Begins” campaign benefiting Worldbuilders.

Every epic journey begins with a humble first step – this is ours!

“A Story Begins” is the official launch of the Waygate Foundation and the first chance for you to support the authors and charities that make the Sci-Fi and Fantasy literature community such an incredible group. Our goal is to raise $10,000 to kick off the launch of Waygate while supporting Patrick Rothfuss’ Worldbuilders charity. This campaign recognizes the breakthrough organizations founded to foster philanthropic giving while creating a new model to encourage partnership and generosity.

We are especially excited to announce that when this campaign reaches our goal, Waygate has received permission to share a sneak peek of the Wheel of Time Encyclopedia! The Encyclopedia is a new reference work which will be produced by Team Jordan, including editor Harriet McDougal and continuity editors Maria Simons and Alan Romanczuk. Though it is not expected to be released until at least 2014, it will include detailed entries on history, geography, weaponry, natural life such as plants, birds and animals, and character descriptions and backgrounds. Waygate is thrilled to have an opportunity to provide the first look at this addition to the Wheel of Time universe and plans to publish it on-line for all fans to enjoy when we reach the $10,000 goal. We can’t wait to hear what you think about it!

As a final piece to our kick-off campaign, we are introducing our charter sponsorship program. For a limited time, individuals and organizations can earn recognition as a charter sponsor of Waygate and be perpetually listed on our website. These sponsorships are available at Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum levels, for donations of $200, $500, $1000 and $2500. This program recognizes our early contributors who significantly advance our foundation toward its goals. Together our charter sponsors and individual donors will help Waygate take those first humble steps on our epic journey.

Waygate Foundation website: http://waygatefoundation.org/

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

A short note on Rhea



A reader asked me today about the passage in the WOT Wiki that Rhea, a Da’shain Aiel who was kidnapped from her family by bandits during the Breaking of the World, was “most likely” the ancestor of Ishara, first Queen of Andor. Since her name is that of a mother goddess, and considering her lineage, Rhea may have been an ancestor of Westlands nobility, and introduced Aiel colouring into the Andoran royal line. But she probably didn’t do it through Ishara, whom Elayne describes as "Ishara herself, as dark as any of the Atha'an Miere, as full of authority as any Aes Sedai" (The Path of Daggers, Crimsonthorn).

I note that the encyclopedic Wheel of Time websites have missed this information on Ishara's physical appearance.

My essay is proceeding quite well, but it’s long, so there’s still some way to go yet. I'll resume the read-through as soon as I can.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Update



I'm halting the read-through for a while (only short, I hope!) because I have a few larger essays I really want to write and I can't do both read-through and essays. Once I get the first essay into second draft, then I can resume the read-through and keep polishing the essay.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Towers of Midnight Read-through #41: Chapter 34 - Judgment


By Linda



Perrin feels his forces are not united but are doing what they see as best for themselves. But then, until recently, he wasn’t united either, or doing his job properly, so without a good example to follow, why would they be? Proof of this is that he tells himself he wants to disband his armies because leadership is starting to feel natural and he doesn’t want the responsibility. He’s using the excuse of the axe: if you like it, get rid of it. Gaul comments that Perrin is being a leader and Perrin says it’s only because he has to be. But that is the point: he doesn’t have to like it, just do it. And get over it. The time and energy he’s wasting railing against fate would be better spent fulfilling that fate.

When Perrin does get on with thinking and planning, he’s very good at it. In short order he deduces that the dome causes the gateway problem, that it is probably a ter’angreal, that it could be in Tel’aran’rhiod, and also that Forsaken are involved. He has insight into what his vision of sheep running from wolves means – it symbolises Slayer’s trap, which Perrin’s group is trying to escape. So instead of being the attackers as he originally thought, he and his people are the prey of someone else. And Morgase gives credit where it’s due by reluctantly introducing Perrin as Lord of the Two Rivers. Contrast this with Egwene who made erroneous conclusions and stuck to them even when shown evidence that they were wrong or incomplete. But at least she doesn’t whine about the job.

Judgment is about the results of past actions being due. The first of these is that had Perrin fought the Whitecloaks instead of agreeing to a trial, the Shadow would have attacked his tired forces after that battle, and the dreamspike and Mesaana would not have been destroyed. Nor would Perrin’s armies fight at the Last Battle. The Black Ajah would have lured Aes Sedai into their trap.

The second, an example of a positive result from negative events, is that Faile working with Berelain during the bubble of evil, even though Berelain has caused her so much grief, has convinced the camp that Perrin was not unfaithful.

During the presentation of evidence at his trial, Perrin sees two memory streams – that of the wolf and the man - but no longer feels divided while doing so. More painful for him is that he has to be public about his ability for the first time.

The belief that wolves and wolfbrothers serve the Dark One is a Wheel of Time myth. It parallels the real world belief in werewolves and that wolves and werewolves are in league with the devil. Even Morgase is frightened of Perrin’s ability, or perhaps that Perrin’s admission of it will convict him. The trial scene shows the contagion of fear and the confusion it engenders.

Perrin makes Bornhald reconsider his prejudices against others who are different to him. He complements Bornhald on his father which stifles Bornhald’s objections, and shows that Perrin can value those who are different to him.

Galad questions what evidence Byar has that Perrin killed Geofram Bornhald. Byar didn’t see anything, he just ‘knows’. Even though he witnessed it, he refuses to believe that Perrin fought on the side of Whitecloaks at Falme and defended the Two Rivers; such is the strength of prejudice and resulting hatred.

Perrin’s claim is that he killed the Whitecloaks in self-defence, and that the Whitecloaks did not have the authority to threaten them. Perrin regrets his past actions but doesn’t excuse them, and accepts that he is guilty. Morgase says:

Well, the law is very clear. Perrin may feel that the wolves were his friends, but the law states that a man's hound or livestock is worth a certain price. Slaying them is unlawful, but killing a man in retribution is even more so.

Towers of Midnight, Judgment

which means that both sides killed illegally, but Perrin committed the graver crime. A death sentence is not mandatory when both sides are brawling mercenaries. Galad is the one who has the responsibility to assign a sentence since is the leader of the more wronged party. This is also a way of getting the Whitecloaks to accept the judgment. The Whitecloak commander asks Perrin if he will abide by the sentence and he affirms that he will. This is probably a factor in Galad’s eventual ‘milder’ sentence, as of course is Perrin’s rescue of the Whitecloaks. Perrin is honourable to all; even to groups that most think don’t deserve it.

While Perrin is trying to restore his honour here – meet his toh – he also wants to fulfil his obligations to the world to do his duty in the Last Battle and reminds them all of that rather more important trial and day of judgment. Perrin promises to submit to Galad’s authority after the Last Battle, and soon Galad will submit to Perrin’s authority until the Last Battle. While Faile was lost to him Perrin did not care about the Last Battle, but now he is totally focussed on keeping as many people alive to fight at it as possible.

Galad reserves his sentence on Perrin. He’s not just keeping Perrin in suspense and calming down his own people, quite possibly he hasn’t decided it. Galad accepts Perrin’s vow because it is the honourable thing to do, since Perrin did the honourable thing in turning up for trial and accepting its judgment.

The chapter shows how much Perrin is haunted by his crime and wants to free himself of this guilt. The Aiel at least are probably the most understanding of this.

Bain and Chiad’s teasing of Gaul shows they care. Also, he has to accept their care or else he is demeaning their role. So while they are his servants, they show how they can keep the relationship equal. He respects that. For one thing it is a declaration of their intent at the end of their time just as his was made when he fought so hard to gain custody of them in Malden.

Something in this chapter that could be tidied up is that the Faile POV turns into a Perrin POV without a break.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Towers of Midnight Read-through #40: Chapter 33 - A Good Soup


By Linda

WARNING: CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR TOWERS OF MIDNIGHT

Siuan POV

The luxury of health is not to be taken lightly. The wholesome soup ingredients came from Caemlyn, a city currently in a state of grace, as we see later in the chapter. In contrast, food in the Tower is rotting and infested – as is the spiritual condition of the Aes Sedai thanks to the presence of Bloodknives, who are keeping distrust alive in the Tower, and Mesaana.

There was little point to Rand speaking of the cleansing or even Asha’man bonding Aes Sedai when he met with Egwene. He expected that she would consider him insane, or at least unstable, and that intelligence reports and advice from Aes Sedai would reinforce her view, and went there with the aim of getting her to unite opposition to his plan to break Seals. That way he would only have to deal with it once.

Another reason for not discussing the bonding of Aes Sedai is that, as he said in Crossroads of Twilight, Egwene was always a sharp bargainer and he had already pre-empted this by arranging for Aes Sedai to bond Asha’man. And really, Egwene knew this already.

Nynaene counters Egwene’s insistence that Rand has to take responsibility for what the Ash’aman have done by pointing out that Egwene has to do the same for the Aes Sedai. Egwene is not impressed. Not surprisingly, Siuan thinks Nynaeve too partisan, and that it was time she returned for …indoctrination is perhaps the correct word. Nynaeve backs down but does say there are reasons for Rand’s actions (something Tower Aes Sedai ignore). Changing attitudes cuts both ways, though, and Nynaeve’s return to the Tower opens up the possibility of her changing Aes Sedai ,as we saw in the finale to her testing.

Egwene thinks Rand has gone beyond embracing death. Rand is something more; people would bend willingly to his wishes (as they did in Bandar Eban). When Egwene says Rand would not have needed to destroy Graendal’s slaves, she doesn’t appreciate how powerfully Compelled Graendal’s slaves were – effectively living dead. Rand might not have been able to undo that. He said he couldn’t undo Kerb’s Compulsion. In any case, this comes under the heading of “what might have been” since at the time of Natrin’s Barrow he was yet to be transfigured.

Another example of Egwene’s lack of knowledge is that she doesn’t believe that everything the Sea Folk do is a bargain. This is customary for nomads who, due to the exigencies of wandering for survival, have little sense of community outside their immediate clan. In a way it works to her benefit: she ignores their customs. She genuinely wants to meet with Windfinders and Wise Ones and use them as a partial lure for Mesaana and the Black Ajah with the concurrent Aes Sedai meeting in Tel’aran’rhiod as the main lure. As a plan it is probably a bit too complex and we see that the Shadow just decided to do to Egwene what Rand did to Graendal: a “punch in the face” rather than be manipulated into a trap. The lure was overdone and so they ignored it and just attacked.

Egwene agrees that Nynaeve’s concern about the Amyrlin putting herself in danger is valid, but Egwene is the most experienced and skilled of the Aes Sedai in Tel’aran’rhiod, and as it turns out that skill was needed. However, she had not thought to ask the Wise One dreamwalkers to contribute and agrees with Siuan that she should do so, while dismissing Nynaeve’s suggestion of asking Rand for aid.


Perrin POV

Perrin is inside a powerful nightmare of a shipwreck besieged with voracious sea predators, including possibly a Leviathan, and after a slip-up he was able to destroy it. He never appreciated how long it takes to master Tel’aran’rhiod and how well he has done so.

Nearly all wolves – incarnated or not – are heading for the Blight, except for some staying to help Perrin. It is interesting that the wolves in Tel’aran’rhiod are not shifting, but running. Perhaps this is for the same reason that Perrin didn’t shift in Tel’aran’rhiod: to not do it easily. Or to not hasten the end. The wolves need to be at the Blight at a particular time and not before, but nothing else is as worth doing. Do they sweep Tel’aran’rhiod as they go?


Gawyn POV

The Rose March has a very strong scent of roses, and is blooming in great abundance. The flower’s name suggests a march of roses. Roses are a symbol of love – and in this case Rand’s and Elayne’s love is on display. The rose is also the national flower of England, and Andor has strong parallels with England (hence the Rose Crown of Andor), particularly that of the Tudor Queens. The plant represents a march of love fighting evil.

Caemlyn is hale because Elayne, who is linked to Rand and pregnant with his children, is there, and so the Land is healthier, with wholesome food and the sun shining:

“I'd nearly convinced myself that the perpetual gloom was something unnatural." "Oh, it probably is," she said nonchalantly. "A week back the cloud cover in Andor broke around Caemlyn, but nowhere else."

Towers of Midnight, A Good Soup

Elayne feels Rand cleansing, himself perhaps as much as the Land.

”He drives back the clouds and makes the roses bloom."

Towers of Midnight, A Good Soup

but only where he or his loves are, and only in a form that is natural to the area, anyway. (Could the healthiness of Caemlyn be due to Mat, a ta’veren, being there? Around Perrin food is more wholesome than most, but still rots, and Mat went to Ghenjei under a sky that was overcast, but less thickly than elsewhere.)

The Waste around Aviendha may be affected by her bond to Rand in a similar way, since in Rhuidean the cloud cover was “remarkably gone” while she was in the plaza. Moreover, Aviendha’s food tasted far better than she expected, including the food she herself caught, and this may be an effect of her link to Rand. Had it been only Nakomi’s food that tasted good, it would be more like to be Nakomi’s influence.

In contrast, Gawyn cannot bring himself to believe anything good about Rand. Even hearing about Rand makes the day seem darker to him. Elayne teases and unsettles Gawyn and then asks him why he is there, when he’s not joining in the Andoran court, just wandering the gardens thinking. The court wonders why he wasn’t fighting at the Succession wars or taking a leadership role in the Andoran armies. For one so impulsive he has had a long period of paralysis.

Gawyn feels Egwene doesn’t need him:

She's so concerned with being strong, with being the Amyrlin, that she doesn't have room for anyone who won't bow to her every whim."

Towers of Midnight, A Good Soup

She has the same issues that Rand had prior to his epiphany, demanding obedience of all, but Gawyn doesn’t handle Egwene as well as Rand’s three women do him. Elayne gives Gawyn excellent advice. Which he even listens to! She points out hat his role as Egwene’s partner is very similar to what his role would have been as Prince of the Sword to Elayne. Gawyn feels it is different because he will be married to Egwene.

He tries to dodge his underlying problem but feels Elayne understands him well and can help. And she does. Gawyn feels Rand has no right to his position because he was lowly born. Elayne rightly thinks this is jealousy and points out that killing Rand would doom the world. She shows confidence in Gawyn and releases him from his obligations. And Gawyn realises it is pointless to want to kill a man already condemned to death and, wonder of wonders, stops hating him. The health of the garden around Elayne (which ironically is vicariously linked to Rand through Elayne’s bond) also plays a part in improving his spirit.

The sul’dam turned damane is prepared to bargain collaring for her information with a High Lord, which is surely outside the usual role of damane that she is trying hard to play. Gawyn offers to intercede with Elayne for her. The damane gives him an idea of how to defeat the Bloodknives. He decides to tell Egwene she is the target for Seanchan suicide troops no matter the consequences, when Silviana’s patronising letter enrages him. His verbal message about the Bloodknives and the actual knife never arrive, presumably intercepted by Darkfriends. Had he sent a verbal message only, its loss could have been one of those inconvenient miscommunications so common in the series – such as Silviana disregarding it because Gawyn is a man, and an inconvenience at that. But with an artefact misappropriated as well, it is more likely due to malign intent.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Towers of Midnight Read-through #39: Chapter 32 - A Storm of Light


By Linda

WARNING: CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR TOWERS OF MIDNIGHT

Ituralde POV

Ituralde wants Maradon to be a Pyrrhic victory for the Shadow with the city’s buildings as pyres for Shadowspawn.

The patch of blue sky Ituralde sees early in the chapter heralds Rand’s arrival, but it took time for Bashere to clear their way in. Meanwhile Ituralde has devised several feints so the Trollocs are prepared for one type of attack but get another.

Of the five great captains of the nations, Ituralde (and probably Niall) is not nobly born but has worked his way up. Not that the other captains don’t have great merit, but Ituralde started from a much lower rank. Consequently his strength of will and self-belief must be tremendous as a result. So careful of his image, Ituralde won’t he show any weakness around Bashere or let Bashere tend him.

Ituralde thinks that Darkfriend or not, Torkumen deserves to die for not defending Maradon or aiding its defenders. Even though he knew all their efforts to be a losing tactic, Ituralde is still dismayed that Maradon will be abandoned. His logic is in conflict with his feelings, but it pretty much has been ever since he agreed to go to Saldaea, and has reinforced by what he has gone through. Both he and Min have unshakeable faith in Rand.

I knew from the city’s name that there would be some sort of marathon battle at Maradon (see Origin of Place names article) but it is also the scene of Rand “cleansing the Temple”:

Many others stayed in the room, however, staring out at the field that had been cleansed by ice and by fire.

Towers of Midnight, A Storm of Light

I thought there was some heavy-handedness in the description of Rand’s wisdom and also his channelling:

Those eyes had changed, too. Ituralde had not noted wisdom in them before. Don't be a thickheaded fool, Ituralde thought, you can't tell if a man is wise by looking at his eyes. And yet he could.

Towers of Midnight, A Storm of Light

“He's a storm. A storm of Light and streams of Power!"

Towers of Midnight, A Storm of Light

Rand is channelling at far greater strength than any one man. Somehow he targets only Shadowspawn; there is no wasted effort or misplaced weaves. The two Maidens who witness his counterattack may refer to the two witnesses for the Lord at Armageddon in Revelation Chapter 11 of the New Testament.

Why would a Maiden not have a tail at the back of her hair?

She was a lanky woman with dark red hair, cut short with a tail in the back like that of most Maidens.

Towers of Midnight, A Storm of Light

That would be like not wearing the cadin’sor. The two go together as the uniform of an Aiel warrior. Women who aren’t warriors have longer hair and no tail. The underlined words are fairly empty filler material.

Lord and Lady Torkumen were not reacting to literal light from the weaves but Light emanating from Rand, being the force of good he created as he channelled vast amounts of saidin, one half of the True Source of the Creator, to save and Heal the Land. The Darkfriend couple was completely allied with the Shadow and the barrage of Good destroyed their minds or will to live.


Min POV

Rand can’t do everything. He needs to confront the Dark One at Shayol Ghul, and not be provoked into rage and destruction elsewhere. Rand must feel though, and express those feelings, or else his spirit breaks. While Rand rejected Cadsuane’s counsel of laughter and tears, his post-epiphany realisation that he should not harden himself or repress his feelings is a variant of her metaphor of the willow bending with the wind, while the rigid oak breaks. So he is following her advice in a way.

Rand will use himself up saving the Land to a larger degree than we just saw at Maradon. Even Min accepts this. Instead of insisting that he will die when Min says he won’t, Rand now says that maybe she’ll prevent it. Both changes really emphasise how much his mental health has improved.

Callandor is probably called the blade of ruin because it opens Rand or weakens him so that he - presumably his soul or spirit – can be assailed. Is this the case even if two women provide stability by linking with him when he uses the sa’angreal? They would also witness what Rand does if he uses Callandor to fight the Dark One, mirroring the two Maidens in this chapter.

Merise notices Rand can hardly stand, yet scolds him about Cadsuane. Maybe she is this harsh or merciless, or maybe she thinks she can seize his moment of weakness to improve Cadsuane’s standing. By the way Cadsuane interrupts her, she doesn’t agree with this tactic, although it’s not clear whether this is because it is cruel or futile.

Verin’s letter told Rand that Mattin Stepaneos is in the Tower and Rand realised there was hope that Alsalam was also kidnapped by Aes Sedai. Min worried that bothering Rand with Cadsuane would tire Rand further, but actually the outcome makes him happy and relieved that Alsalam wasn’t destroyed by Graendal or his balefire. Alsalam being the King, perhaps he is a symbol that Arad Doman too can be restored.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Towers of Midnight Read-Through #38: Chapter 31 - Into the Void


By Linda

WARNING: CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR TOWERS OF MIDNIGHT

The Dusty Wheel inn, aka the Rumour Wheel, with innkeeper Hatch, is a nod to Theoryland and webmaster and beta reader Matt Hatch, and the way the clientele discuss possible events while overlooking a real event – a legendary character in the inn - until late in his visit is perhaps a teasing reflection of what goes on there.

Mat seems to be mastering the art of flirting while claiming to be unavailable, and attracting women who like the challenge. Unfortunately I thought the repetition of the joke was over-done and his protestations of innocence tiresome by the end of the book.

The dice, his mental warning signal, stopped when he left the inn, confirming that danger is imminent because spies (probably the very ones he noticed) had reported his location to the Shadow and the gholam. Mat leaves his scarf on the ground, openly revealing himself to all, like a declaration of war. On this occasion he is consciously dancing with death (Jak o’the Shadows) and accepts it. Jak o’the Shadows is his signature tune – a dance about death as well as with death. It’s a grim joke, but then his role as an expounder of the art of war is grim. The dance of death motif is an important part of Mat’s character (see essay), particularly in this chapter, where it ties in neatly with war, gambling and the underworld.

Mat’s tactics are to get his soldiers to fight off the Darkfriend ambushers to force the gholam itself to attack. The downside is that the gholam is likely to attack his men because they would be easier prey. The fact that a few groups of Darkfriends were sent first shows how wary the gholam is of Mat.

Mat feels stupid – a fool, another major motif of his character – rather than heroic offering himself for bait. (But he is an even mix of both overall). In contrast, Elayne does not feel so vulnerable when she bails up the Black Ajah. She is overconfident compared to Mat. Mat thinks he would have run and avoided this confrontation, if he hadn’t sworn the oath to Verin. Talmanes was also very brave in this scene, taking the lantern before the gholam could extinguish it and helping Mat lure the gholam into the burning building.

The gholam appears more monster-like among the flames, with its smiles and its eyes seeming to glow in deep sockets and is an infernal or underworld creature. It is interesting that the gholam was pained by a blow to its crotch, yet as a man-made creature it shouldn’t have needed genitalia. Severing its Achilles tendon had no effect, but the ashandarei did cut off its fingers. This is a hint of the ashandarei’s special properties, which will be even more obvious when Mat visits the underworld/otherworld of the *Finns. The ashandarei is something like Death’s scythe, however Mat is not Death (that’s Moridin) but King of the Dead. Many of Mat’s motifs are shown in this chapter, and without them being laboured.

Mat had no way of knowing if Elayne’s ter’angreal would hurt the gholam. It was a terrible gamble and he was lucky they worked. But then, as Fortune’s favourite (Fortuona’s consort), Mat was able to win against loaded dice earlier in the scene.

The trap required a lot of coordination and some trickery, the latter usually Mat's trademark, but this time Elayne and Birgitte designed it. The gholam was rushed into it, and kept under pressure. The fires were to be a distraction while the gateway was made, although the monster still sensed the Kin and their channelling. Apparently gholam are the only Shadowspawn that can survive going through a gateway. It was a Skimming gateway, and only the entry gateway, so there was no exit.

Sumeko is insulted that Mat wouldn’t let the Kin try to kill the gholam, but he is right, they would have been killed. The bungling she complained of was due to it being aware of them. Their flows will not touch the gholam because it has properties like the weave-breaking ter’angreal. I think the ter’angreal injure it due to some type of interference, since two ter’angreal with similar function used in close proximity often develop interference and can be damaged by it. A’dam are an obvious exception but they are “closed” in function, being designed to form a forced link. Mat intends to give the two ter’angreal Elayne made to Olver and Tuon.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Towers of Midnight Read-Through #37: Chapter 30 - Men Dream Here


By Linda

WARNING: CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR TOWERS OF MIDNIGHT

Faile POV

The delay Perrin negotiated with the Whitecloaks is being used to replace the weapons that were lost during the bubble of evil. I guess some must have been broken to make them “not weapons” and thus deactivate them before the simple earthing trick was discovered by Berelain.

Poor Faile, so carefully making plans behind Perrin’s back for him to be rescued from the trial if necessary, when he was expecting her to do so. But it makes her feel better.


Perrin POV

By accepting and developing both sides of himself – man and wolf, creator and dreamer, Perrin will be better integrated and more balanced. Earlier he had mistakenly thought suppression of his wolf-side was the answer.

In this chapter Perrin learns to impose his will on Tel’aran’rhiod, but also to expect that others will do the same. He wants to become stronger in Tel’aran’rhiod very quickly, so Hopper shows him how to gain strength from nightmares:


“Hunting in the fear dreams will teach you strength.”

Towers of Midnight, Men Dream Here

It is similar to forcing channellers to gain their strength, and as dangerous, if not more so, since nightmares are immediately dangerous, whereas forced channelling is potentially dangerous.

The Strength motif of Perrin’s character features in this scene (see Perrin essay). Perrin started off with obvious physical strength developed as an apprentice, but always had mental strength too: to not shirk tasks when they got hard or dull, then to keep fighting even though experiencing horrors, etc.

Perrin lasted longer in the nightmare than Hopper expected because it was about Rand, and so was obviously not real. This was “fortuitous” because Perrin was caught up in it at first until he found out Rand was the monster. As Perrin’s animal spirit guide, Hopper showed Perrin how to make the bad dream vanish. Wolves don’t have nightmares, or if they do, they are nowhere near as strong as human nightmares. The animals don’t have the imagination for it, whereas people do. The woman dreamed of Rand with fiery staring eyes – one of traditional features of dragons in myth.

Hopper is aware that Rand is on Dragonmount deciding whether to destroy the world or not. The storm in Tel’aran’rhiod is a reflection of, or a reaction to, Rand’s internal storm. At first Perrin doesn’t realise that it is Rand’s choice whether the Last Battle happens.

In Perrin’s eyes, Dragonmount is a

monstrous peak. The tomb of the Dragon, Lews Therin. It was a monument to his madness, to both his failure and his success. His pride and his self-sacrifice.

Towers of Midnight, Men Dream Here

Perrin’s negative reaction to Dragonmount is an interesting link to how some people see Rand as a monster dragon of nightmare.

Either the Last Battle occurs, or the Pattern is broken by the Dark One. Rather academic, but is the alternative to the Last Battle literally nothingness as in Hopper’s sending to Perrin? It is said the Dark One will re-make the world in his image, so I guess the nothing in Hopper’s thoughts is the discontinuity between the current world and whatever the Dark One creates. The Dark One has gone to a lot of trouble to get someone to open the Bore, so if he were free, I would expect him to do something more interesting than replace the universe with a vacuum. Moridin craves nothingness, but may not get his wish for it if the Dark One wins.

Hopper can’t resist the storm, but Perrin has the fortitude to persist. Also, he is needed as a witness, and need in Tel’aran’rhiod makes a difference. In this case it helps him move around within the storm.

Rand looks eastward in the darkness, which is towards where the sun rises. He is a solar character, a parallel of Sol Invictus, the unconquered Sun. It was evening when Perrin went into the dream and he trained there for a while increasing his strength and skill in a very timely manner. The sun shines when Rand wins his battle against darkness but we did not see a sunrise. Since the sun hangs directly above Rand, his epiphany occurred at noon. This is the time that the Dark One’s power is weakest.

Rand is wearing red and black, a reminder that his link with Moridin adds to his despair. Each is mirroring the other even though they are on opposite sides of the moral divide. It is another example of wrongness. The Dark One is doing his best to bring Rand over to his side. There is the risk of course that Rand’s goodness will lessen Moridin’s evil. Certainly the strain of being linked to Rand and feeling what he arranged for Rand to go through has sapped Moridin. He is not coping with the taste of his own medicine.

The image of Perrin with ice in his beard resisting the wind’s blast reminded me of his parallel, the Norse god Thor, fighting an ice giant. The Last Hunt is a parallel of the Wild Hunt, and also of Ragnarok, the final battle of Norse myth, when the gods and their foes the giants destroy each other.

Rand’s clothes don’t move in the wind, just as a Myrddraal’s don’t. Like them, he is slightly out of phase with reality, in this case the reality of Tel’aran’rhiod. Rand is exuding evil.

Perrin wills Rand to resist being overwhelmed by darkness. Did he make any difference? Perrin seems to think he didn’t; that Rand wasn’t really there and also that Perrin was focussed on not blowing away and. Moreover the choice was Rand’s to make. On the other hand, some things are more real or stronger in Tel’aran’rhiod than in the waking world, and Perrin is a strength figure.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Towers of Midnight Read-Through #36: Chapter 29 - A Terrible Feeling



By Linda

WARNING: CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR TOWERS OF MIDNIGHT

Faile POV

Having finally cleared his name regarding his fidelity, it is now time for Perrin to explain his Whitecloak crimes:

"It bothers Perrin when people think he did something wrong. As long as the Whitecloaks continue to insist he is a murderer, his name will not be clear." He was being bullheaded and foolish, but there was a nobility about it.

Towers of Midnight, A Terrible Feeling
Faile loves Perrin’s honour and strength. Borderlanders respect strength and also have a strong sense of honour, as we are seeing with Yoeli, Faile’s fellow countryman defending Maradon, and the Borderlander rulers. While Faile trusts Morgase to be just, she is naturally worried that the trial could go against Perrin.

Berelain assumes everyone is manipulative and subtle like her – but then she has had to assume this for her own political survival. Faile comes from a region where they can’t afford the distraction of political games, and, not having had to expect the worst of people, understands individual variation better.

When she had her viewing of Berelain falling for a man in white, Min commented that Berelain had no shame (Lord of Chaos, Thorns). An example of Berelain’s lack of shame in love is her continued efforts to find any excuse to go see Galad. She showed little restraint or care about others in her pursuit of Perrin either, though that was desire, not love.

Alliandre casually provides further opportunities to discuss Galad. She may be trying to confirm Berelain’s feelings for future reference, or just distracting the other two women from the topic of Perrin. It must have been tiresome to have the front seat while their fight over Perrin went on.

When Faile thinks the Commander of the Whitecloaks is not a good marriage prospect for a ruler, she is probably thinking of how unpopular Whitecloaks are, and their tendency to takeover nations. On the question of how would Berelain and Galad manage their respective positions and responsibilities, the Whitecloaks could settle in Mayene, since they no longer have Amadicia and their presence would keep Tear out. Or the Children could establish in an ‘empty’ area and Galad and Berelain could use Travelling to be together.

Alliandre abruptly brings up Morgase. She and Faile are angry with Morgase for not telling them her identity, when Alliandre, at least, thought they had become friends in their trials. The captives abandoned ranks so all could survive together, but it turns out the three women were all roughly of the same rank anyway. Berelain and Perrin think that Morgase’s reticence is reasonable, but then they weren’t taken by the Shaido.

The bubble of evil turned people’s weapons against them, to bring fear and despair. Things designed to protect are now attacking their owners. It fits in with what people are feeling: Faile worries that Perrin’s nobility could be turned against him, Galad that his leniency to Perrin will be the undoing of the Children, while Perrin is stalling to find out whether there is a trap, but that gives the ambush more time to be set up…. Berelain was the first to identify the bubble of evil and the solution to deactivating their weapons. Faile saves Berelain even while reflecting on how trying Berelain is.

The fingerroot trees in this scene appear to be like freshwater mangroves. True mangroves usually grow in brackish water.


Morgase POV

A mentoring mother, Morgase watches out for the weaknesses and strengths of her children and tries to bolster them. She is aware that Elayne uses knowledge as a weapon to get ahead of others, outdo them, or undo them. Galad has very high principles, but a simple definition of morality, whereas Morgase believes that sometimes there is no possible moral ground:

Shown him that the world was not black and white—it wasn't even gray. It was full of colors that sometimes didn't fit into any spectrum of morality.

Towers of Midnight, A Terrible Feeling
Later in this book we see the Seanchan who are both very good and very bad at the same time and the amoral *Finns.

Galad thinks Valda deserved death for raping Morgase, and betraying her trust. He has some moral confusion because he was only half right about Valda’s crimes, yet is glad that he killed him. Morgase will use this to widen Galad’s understanding of people and their circumstances and failings. It will prevent him from being judgmental of others. Too many of the Children succumb to self-righteousness. Both Galad and Berelain have fairly inflexible systems for dealing with people and situations: Galad is too straightforward and polarised, Berelain too Machiavellian. It should in an interesting relationship.

Morgase respects Galad’s choices. Some were better than her own, in her opinion. This is quite a thing for her to admit, considering how she felt about Whitecloaks even before she went to them, and what she experienced at their hands.

While Galad listened to Morgase’s belief that Valda was behind Niall’s murder (correct), he doesn’t include that in Valda’s crimes since he has no evidence.

Galad is disapproving of even the possibility that Morgase might be advocating Perrin not be punished for his crime. Morgase judges Perrin to be good and is prepared to find that his crime might have extenuating circumstances, especially knowing Whitecloaks. She shows Galad the downside of capital punishment – that if someone is wrongly convicted the punishment cannot be undone – and that no judge is infallible.

Morgase is surprised that she respects Niall and has fond memories of their games of go. It might surprise her that Niall felt the same. Or perhaps it wouldn’t. She wants Galad to be like Niall, or even better.

Galad believes that the Whitecloak dogma that Aes Sedai are all evil is mistaken. It developed from the observation in The Way of the Light that the One Power can lead to corruption. Which is true, any power can; and Galad has firsthand knowledge that the White Tower is in need of reformation, but the battle against the Shadow outweighs other problems. He agrees to travel with Morgase, but pointedly doesn’t say with Perrin. And only after the trial.

The trial is very important because Galad believes that no crime should go unpunished and that Perrin has a guilty conscience. By this stage of the scene, Galad seems to be softening on his opinion that Perrin is Shadowspawn. After all, surely Shadowspawn would not have a conscience with which to feel guilt.

Morgase exposes Galad’s threat to execute his prisoners as a lie or, if he carried it out, a wrong deed. He is dismissive:

"So you would have killed the others," Morgase said. "People who did no wrong, who were innocent of nothing more than being beguiled by Aybara?" "The executions would never have occurred. It was merely a threat." "A lie." "Bah! What is the point of this, Mother?" "To make you think, son," Morgase said. "In ways that I should have encouraged before, rather than leaving you to your simple illusions.

Towers of Midnight, A Terrible Feeling
This is inconsistent with his earlier attitude and quite a change for him, since it shows him as in the wrong, normally unthinkable. Morgase regrets that she did not show Galad that good and evil are not that simple since good people can mistakenly do wrong or be pushed into it by circumstances. Perrin could be one in this situation. Morgase herself wrongly convicted a man to die. The Light doesn’t automatically protect people from evil or prevent good people from doing wrong, as Galad is starting to discover. Right now he is suppressing this a little. Morgase makes some inroads in puncturing his zealous convictions, because he frowns and looks troubled, but then he appears to decide to see what the Pattern and the trial bring. Morgase wants Galad to be aware that there could be reasons why people commit crimes and that there is not just one appropriate sentence for each type of crime.

Galad decides the delay provided by the bubble of evil is an opportunity to think. As Bryne remarked earlier, Galad thinks a lot. And usually to good purpose.

In the exchange quotes above, Moragse calls Galad ‘son, which is true, since he is her step-son (unlike Ituralde’s and Lan’s use of ‘son’ to younger men, which sounds patronising) and is consistent with the way she called Elayne ‘daughter’ in The Eye of the World.


Perrin POV

Perrin’s hammer is a tool rather than a weapon and so it didn’t respond to the bubble of evil.

Tam is leaving Perrin to go to Rand, who will try to kill him – and almost become a Kinslayer of his own volition. The shame of this brings Rand out of the darkness. Tam will tell Rand that Morgase is alive.


Elayne POV

Elayne’s comical parade through Caemlyn on a litter adds to her reputation for recklessness as well as courage. Her reluctance to rest, and earlier to accept the guidance of a midwife is paralleled in Queen Elizabeth 1, who in her last illness refused to be examined by a doctor or to rest in bed. The litter is also described as a bed in one sentence. All through her long reign Queen Bess made a big show of being a woman, as Elayne does here. I noted some other parallels between the two women (here), but I’ll write more in the Elayne essay that I’m writing.

Elayne’s fear of heights reminded me of the Seanchan saying: “On the heights, the paths are paved with daggers” (The Shadow Rising, Seeds of Shadow). Perhaps Elayne’s fear of heights is a symbol that she should guard against a tendency to overreach in her ambitions. The success to taking and keeping the Cairhienin throne is being above Daes Daemar, Elayne thinks. She might not be going to intrigue in Cairhien – much - but is going to put spies on Aludra, because she mistrusts her motivation and discretion. Elayne offers Aludra access to more bellfounders, but also insists on an oath of secrecy: using carrots and a stick, as she was taught to do.

Elayne is disparaging of Mat’s judgment of the cannons’ value until she remembers her own mistakes. This mirrors the Galad and Morgase scene where each sees the other’s imperfections and is reminded of their own.

Aludra had the cannon bodies recast because if the metal has flaws or is the wrong composition it could explode upon firing. Aludra thinks there is no danger to bystanders because her calculations are perfect and she judges that they were followed. She does not allow for people making mistakes, such as operator error, and in her own way is as overconfident as Galad or Elayne. The cannon are firing four to six inch cannonballs. Elayne thinks they are so small compared to catapult stones that they won’t do much damage. Aludra is planning on four men per cannon (see Mat, Fireworks and Bellfounder article). The sound the cannon makes upon firing is realistic, but there is no smoke or recoil described. The men take three minutes to reload, but Aludra says they would be faster with more training. Until now she has shown a reluctance to let go of her creations, but in battle she can’t calculate all the trajectories herself, or do all the training of gunners. In this demonstration she had to allow the men to light the fuses.

It is interesting that Birgitte recognises gunpowder. She realises what a difference gunpowder weapons will make to the world, with more destructive and lethal power accessible to more people, as per Egwene’s dream of Mat:

Mat sat on a night-shrouded hilltop, watching a grand Illuminator's display of fireworks, and suddenly his hand shot up, seized one of those bursting lights in the sky. Arrows of fire flashed from his clenched fist, and a sense of dread filled her. Men would die because of this. The world would change.

-A Crown Of Swords, Unseen Eyes
The chapter title of “A Terrible Feeling” refers to Birgitte’s mislike of gunpowder weapons. In contrast, Elayne is just excited at the opportunity they present and is unconcerned about what misuse they could be put to. In many ways, with breezy confidence and little thought for anything except her own nation’s benefit, Elayne gives this reader the most misgivings. One can see this aspect of her character in Aviendha’s visions of Elayne’s children. But the title is also appropriate for Galad’s confusion over getting Valda’s crime wrong, and in committing a wrong deed yet feeling right about that, and for Morgase’s regrets in not teaching him better.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Towers of Midnight Read-Through #35: Chapter 28 -Oddities



By Linda

WARNING: CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR TOWERS OF MIDNIGHT

Faile POV

Faile is content that she can’t always anticipate Perrin’s actions and that he doesn’t back down from her. She respects him because he is not too easy to handle and therefore is worthy of her hand. It’s part of the courtly love motif of their sub-thread. When Faile senses that Perrin is too distracted by worries to concern himself over whether to appease her she’s not too thrilled, but thoughts of Berelain eyeing off Galad are compensation enough to let it pass.

Perrin has agreed to the trial to buy himself time as well as make the Whitecloaks hear the other side to their charges. He believes Galad is fair enough to really do that. Too often Whitecloaks prejudge and their captives never get to explain their side of the story. In this sub-thread we see the huge changes that Galad is making to the Whitecloaks, seemingly effortlessly due to his obvious excellence and goodness. In reality he has paid the price for the changes already, as well as earned the right to make them, by enduring abuse from the Questioners for the greater good of the order.


Perrin POV

In Tel’aran’rhiod Perrin’s link to Mat pulled him straight to the Tower of Ghenjei. Previously we have seen people pulled to others’ dreams, but not people pulled to places in Tel’aran’rhiod that others close to them are focussed on.

Judging by the way the dreamspike barrier makes a being go limp when they touch it, it appears to block an area by sapping the brain’s control of the body. Only those with a very strong self-image can counteract its influence. Within the dome Tel’aran’rhiod works as normal except for the difficulty of passing through the barrier. Perrin does not jump to conclusions that the dreamspike is what causes the smell of wrongness around the camps, but does think they are related: pretty good judgement. His judgement was also sound about it not being worth the risk for Morgase to tell them her identity.

Hopper likens Slayer to a wolf of wrongness, and he is a human Darkhound, in a way. I suspect he is the Broken Wolf of the Shadow’s Prophecy, if that prophecy comes true. (In Rand’s opinion prophecies show the conditions necessary for something to happen, but are no guarantees that it will happen. Other characters, Siuan and King Paitar, for example, disagree and believe that prophecy is infallible.)


Ituralde POV

The Shadowspawn outside Maradon don’t attack, but constantly beat drums. It’s intimidating and presents anyone resting. There are Darkfriend male channellers with the Shadowspawn. They aren’t seen though, only sensed. For all we know there could also be Black Ajah working with them.

Ituralde refuses to flee Maradon. Firstly because it’s the best way to keep the Shadow out of Arad Doman, and secondly, he trusts that Rand will send forces to save the city.

The Great Captain is in shock at what one explosion can do – in this case made by channellers, but cannon can do the same –to a city’s defences. It is the end of fortresses being able to keep out invaders so long as their food and water supplies hold, and no one betrays them. Ituralde thinks if he’d had more time he could have held the city. This would be by using traps to keep the invaders out, but he could not have stopped the Shadow breaking the walls down and smashing the important buildings. For such a noted strategist it is surprising that he has been using the palace as a command post. It would be an obvious and conspicuous target, with its location known and easily seen from outside the city. He should have been using a somewhat less blatant but still central point for his headquarters.

Yoeli is convinced that the smoke they see is a signal that help is coming. But it isn’t. It may be in the right location, or it may merely be what Yoeli wants to believe. In desperation he challenges Ituralde to keep fighting at Maradon. The Shadow’s attack raises some questions. Why didn’t Darkfriend channellers enter the city? Are they too few? Or needed elsewhere? Why didn’t the Trollocs bring siege towers and ladders to enter the city from higher levels as well as at ground level? Ituralde’s strategy is urban guerrilla warfare, even though he believes it is a lost cause and that they should have abandoned the city.

I didn’t like Ituralde’s use of ‘son’ when addressing Deepe. Ituralde is only in his middle years, and anyway, ‘son’ isn’t something the characters said prior to The Gathering Storm.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Towers of Midnight Read-Through #34: Chapter 27 - A Call To Stand



By Linda

WARNING: CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR TOWERS OF MIDNIGHT

Darlin’s letter to Egwene makes good points. He reminds her that the Prophecies warned that Rand would be dark, dangerous and difficult, and then shows an understanding of what has caused Rand’s deterioration; something other characters would do well to think about.

His comments on the power of those in charge of nations are particularly relevant to the Dragon role:
Indeed, the more absolute a man's power becomes, the more necessary questioning becomes. Towers of Midnight, A Call To Stand
After all, in the Second Age, Lews Therin effectively had absolute Power, according to Jordan:
I have a question about the Nine Rods of Dominion. We have a couple of references to this, and Ishamael says that Lews Therin summoned the Nine Rods of Dominion. And theories have been floating around, are the Oath Rods not the Nine Rods of Dominion?
Robert Jordan They were not the Oath Rods.
Question Well are they positions of power, were they people, or were they actual rods?
Robert Jordan They were actual people, and they were, but you might call them regional governors of the earth, regional governors of the planet. So if I say, summon them, then we've got a guy who has been given in effect ultimate power.

Robert Jordan at DragonCon 2005
And did not handle that power well. Nor has Rand at times. Any questioning has to be handled considerately on both sides, otherwise it only causes alienation.

Darlin is grateful to Rand on Tear’s behalf, not just for keeping the self-serving High Lords from taking over, but maybe also for the new laws Rand introduced. These laws limited the absolute power of the Tairen nobility.

Egwene wants Darlin to bring all, or most, of his forces to the Field of Merrilor, and to rely on Illian to keep the Seanchan out of Tear, while encouraging Illian to also bring most of its forces to Merrilor. And this, even while remembering how the Seanchan struck at the Tower, at a time when they did not have Travelling. With both sides able to make gateways, they are not the advantage they once were. Not a good judgement, it is more about serving her purposes of intimidating Rand and showing their fighting strength, and less about considering Tear’s own security risk. Sure it’s the Last Battle but amassing quantities of forces to underline a protest is a crude strategy and only works up to a point. The rest of the forces are better off left to protect the nation coughBorderlanderscough.

It is not surprising that Egwene does not understand Rand’s trauma, since she has little insight into her own, lesser, trauma, at the hands of the Seanchan:
She loathed them with a hatred that sometimes worried her.

Towers of Midnight, A Call To Stand
Her untreated trauma prevents her reactions to them being reasonable or controlled. It is very likely that she is not going to get on with Tuon.

Egwene knows she is using Rand’s proclamation to garner support for her view that Rand should not break the Seals, but can’t see that he might expect, or even want, this. As I suggested in an earlier read-through post, I believe that Rand is relying on Egwene to unite opposition, so that he only has to deal with it once.

While Egwene works on opposing Rand, two thirds of her Hall is going for a power play against Egwene, even as the Borderlands are invaded by huge forces of Shadowspawn. Lelaine, at least, knows the Borderlands are being overrun, but it doesn’t stop her playing politics. Takima has the grace to be ashamed of herself.

Sitters have difficulty referring directly to the schism. They gloss over it, and use euphemisms. While they do that, they are not taking responsibility for their actions, or learning from mistakes.

The majority of the Sitters fear that the Amyrlin will declare martial law or trick the Hall into giving her absolute power, or at least more power, again. They have no evidence she is at work on this, just the belief that because she did this when opposing Elaida she will do so again because the opportunity is there. In fact she is far too busy with international politics and applying pressure to Rand.

The Hall’s plans to take over the prosecution of the war against the Shadow needs Egwene’s assent. They suggest she deal with the monarchs in exchange. The vote was taken precipitately before they realise Egwene did trick them – or let them trick themselves. The Aes Sedai are dumbed down in this scene. Amongst such experienced politicians (at least 3 have over 40 years’ experience in the Hall), Saerin was the only Sitter who saw the full implications of Egwene’s tactics immediately. It seems Egwene’s unexpected arrival put them off discussing the situation fully and instead they impulsively seized on a perceived weakness even while some of them had misgivings.

The vote Egwene really wanted, on no secret meetings of the Hall, and no meeting to be convened unless every Sitter or her proxy is present or has sent direct word that she cannot attend, and the Amyrlin too, is a very worthy one, and the greater consensus votes for it. Silviana admires Egwene’s political skill, but it’s not a very convincing victory when the Sitters are portrayed as foolish. I would prefer that the featured character, in this case Egwene, could look good without having to cheapen the secondary characters.

Directly after this, Egwene then puts Accepted at risk - partially trained women, and one of them even with known flaws – to try and lure the Black Ajah close in Tel’aran’rhiod so they can be caught. She sends Accepted to Elayne to get dream ter’angreal in such a way that they will gossip, in the hope the Shadow will hear of it and the Black Ajah sent to spy.

Egwene was forced in her development by the Seanchan, but also by Siuan, for which Siuan felt very guilty. And rightly so, because Egwene shows flaws in Towers of Midnight, easy victories notwithstanding, although these flaws would have been far worse had the Wise Ones not trained her. Unfortunately they had not finished before she was called elsewhere; their last efforts at discipline being to make her acknowledge she had broken her word (only to find it hid an even larger lie that she was not the rank she claimed to be). Siuan never felt guilty about Liandrin tricking the three girls, though; she thought they should have seen through that. Like Siuan, Egwene is conscious that she should not put trainees at risk in this way unless there is no other choice. But it’s the only strategy she can think of: making herself and the Aes Sedai look dumb so that the Black Ajah will be over-confident enough to take risks.

The chapter is a commentary on the exercise of power by leaders.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Aviendha Outfit 1


By Linda

Late in 2010, in the middle of my costume series, I had the idea of making authentic examples of the costumes for ¼ scale fashion dolls. I knew this would entail designing the patterns myself. Gradually I found and bought a few Tonner fashion dolls online that had the colouring as described in the books. Aviendha is one of my later acquisitions, but I chose to outfit her first, because Aiel wear simple clothing in plain styles (thus making developing the patterns easier) in cotton (algode) and wool, which are easy and cheap to obtain. Here is Aviendha dressed as an apprentice Wise One. (Note, however, that her hair is longer than it was in the books. I decided not to shorten it from the original length on the doll. Once it's off, it  can't be put back.)


Wise Ones wear a white algode blouse with laced closure, bulky brown or grey wool skirts and shawl, plus the standard Aiel hide boots. Underneath they wear a shift, and probably petticoats, especially when it is cold. Their hair is held back by a folded wool scarf around the forehead or temples. They gradually acquire jewellery – necklaces and bracelets, never rings – and wear much of it at once, something typical of nomadic and semi-nomadic peoples. For quarter scale clothing to sit well on the doll, ideally the fabrics should be a quarter the weight of “normal” clothing. Decoration and stitching also should be at quarter scale. I began with Aviendha’s white cotton shift and petticoat, made with as thin a cotton fabric as I could find that was still not transparent. I did two styles of shift, one cut low enough that it fits over the head without needing a button (below left), and one that does need a button (below right). Since the fabric is so fine, the seams are French seams and the armholes and neck are finished with bias binding rather than facings or over-locking (the latter would not be authentic anyway).






 In a time before elastic, the petticoat would be tied closed with tapes or buttoned, as here (photo below left is the fron view, below right is the closure at the back). It is a simple gathered, slightly flared band of fabric, with a waistband sewn over the gather.

Here is Aviendha in her under-clothing.


Aviendha’s brown wool skirt is also buttoned, but her shirt, in a slightly heavier weight cotton than her shift, is laced closed.

 

 Her shawl is made of a medium weight Italian wool suiting that I had in my fabric stash.



Her clothes are almost devoid of embroidery. There is a single row of double-sided cross stitch around her scarf (meaning the stitch is identical front and reverse and thus it doesn’t matter if the garment is folded different ways, see below) and a row of white chain stitch around the cuffs and neck of her blouse to reinforce the hem.


However, she is wearing her necklace of silver “snowflake” pattern that Egwene gave her. I made this from sterling silver beads buttonholed together by beading thread. In mark II I'll stich the beads with silver thread (and re-post here). Rand gave Aviendha an ivory bracelet carved with roses and thorns. I haven’t made this yet.

I made Aviendha’s knee-length boots in a moccasin style out of brown suede and laced them with brown hemp cord. Currently she wears white commercial nylon doll-sized stockings while I am knitting her thin wool stockings.


She wears a belt on which her pouch is threaded. The pouch is made of tan ultrasuede outer and lining. It is closed by wrapping the cotton cord around the button. Below left is the belt and closed pouch, and right shows the pouch open.


Aviendha's horn-handled dagger ter’angreal and a closeup of her necklace are below. The dagger that she took such a liking to was small and blunt and had gold wire wrapped around the deerhorn hilt. She kept it in her belt pouch.


Friday, September 14, 2012

Wheel of Time News


A few Wheel of Time things are happening this week:

TOR announced that the prologue “By Grace and Banners Fallen” for A Memory of Light, the last book of the Wheel of Time series was released on September 19th, about three and a half months before the whole book hits the bookshops. It can be purchased by US or Canadians as either an audio download or ebook for $2.99 on Dragonmount.com. The blurb says that a Forsaken will be revealed and that the red veils (re-)appear. Interesting.

Also this week, TOR released special Facebook Timeline banners, one each day:

Mat



Moiraine



Perrin



Rand



Egwene




For the full banner announcements check out the A Memory of Light index page (the earlier ones are towards the bottom of the page), click the link, and then click the image to see it full size, drag it to your desktop, or Save Image As to post it on your Facebook profile.

The series is nearly done and, more soberly, this weekend will be the fifth anniversary of Robert Jordan’s tragic death. The imminent release of the prologue and the last book show that his legacy lives on.

Let the Dragon ride again on the winds of time.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

News from DragonCon about A Memory of Light



By Linda



This afternoon at DragonCon Brandon read Chapter 11 of A Memory of Light and then made comments and answered questions. It is the first of Mat’s POVs in the book, and is set in Ebou Dar. Mat manages to pass unnoticed through the guarded gates and finds an inn, the Yearly Brawl, run by Kathana (Ebou Dari) and Jame (Seanchan) (Liang). They disbelieve Mat’s elaborate back-story, thinking he must be an assassin set by General Galgan to kill Tuon. Galgan has sent a few, but so far they have been foreigners and therefore not likely to succeed. Mat hurries off the protect Tuon and deal with this threat.

Brandon is happy with the ending of A Memory of Light, It is a scene Jordan wrote and he believes it is serene and beautiful ,and feels so right to him that it will live up to fan’s expectations.

We get first time POVs of characters that we have known a long time. This was Brandon’s deliberate choice. There is a very long chapter in the book which has about 80 different POVs (some repeating) and is about 70,000 words long. It is an epic chapter.

Jordan wrote himself as a cameo as the fat smiling man holding a book, which Aviendha identified as a library ter’angreal in Knife of Dreams A Different Skill. In turn Brandon’s “cameo” is a katana with red and gold dragons around the hilt. It represents the sword he chose from Jordan’s collection at Wilson Grooms’ invitation.

Looking back over the three books he has written, Brandon wasn’t expecting Mat to be hard to write because he has known the Andoran characters so long that they were “natural” to him. In contrast, he expected Aviendha and Tuon to be bard and worked at them the most. As we know, his least favourite character is Cadsuane. He says he tries to make her awesome, but he has never liked her because “she is too mean”.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Towers of Midnight Read-Through #33: Chapter 26 - Parley



By Linda


WARNING: CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR TOWERS OF MIDNIGHT

Perrin POV

Dreamspikes do multiple things, not just block gateways, but they are valued for this one ability now. Presumably they were invented during the War of Power or late in the Collapse. I think the staleness that Perrin smells around an activated Dreamspike is from the flow of the Pattern being blocked.

To a wolf, one weapon is the same as another, but they are more discriminating about their foes. It is this exchange that highlights to Perrin the difference between the hammer and the axe – that one of them can be used to make as well as destroy. This is similar to the distinction the Jenn Aiel made during the Breaking regarding edged tools: a knife or spear can be used to obtain food, but a sword is only for killing. Perrin too is distinguishing between his foes. He is trying to avoid killing Whitecloaks so they can fight their common enemy, the Shadow. The difficulty is getting the Whitecloaks to understand the same. Some do, as we saw in earlier chapters, but, as in many groups, the extremists are more vocal than those with more moderation and understanding.

The best leaders often don’t want the responsibility given to them, or the trust lain in them, but they accept it. It is the latter that Perrin is taking so long to realise.

Perrin decides there should not be a battle, and asks the Wise Ones to help him prevent it. The Aes Sedai won’t do so; they see it as using the One Power as weapon, yet they would be using the One Power to prevent battle. I suspect the Aes Sedai were already disinclined to do this, not wanting to channel at Whitecloaks, and easily convinced themselves they were bound not to.

By showing the Whitecloaks he can really hurt them, Perrin bluffs them into being more malleable.


Galad POV

Galad also wants to prevent battle. He says it’s possible that they don’t understand what is going on, and wonders if he was influenced by Byar and Bornhald into misjudgement.

In this scene Min’s viewing of Berelain falling for a man in white is fulfilled, and returned on Galad’s side. Galad literally wears white, but the viewing could also encompass his purity as well. To a degree, Galad is amenable to Perrin’s suggestions because he wants to make a good impression on Berelain.

Galad notices that Perrin is a “woodsman risen to be a lord.” This is the King of the Wild motif of Perrin’s character (see Perrin essay). As befits a wild man, Perrin is as casual and blunt with Galad as he is with anybody. Even Niall might have had trouble turning his words into something else.

Galad can’t walk away without dealing justice. He is surprised Perrin is serving tea at a war parley, because he thinks it is inappropriate, since where there is such conflict, and lack of trust on both sides, the possibility of poisoned food and drink increases tension between parties.

The tea is a vehicle to introduce Morgase back into Galad’s life. Galad realises that he killed Valda for something Valda didn’t do – but still justifies it on the grounds that Valda deserved it for assaulting Morgase. Then he wonders if that is true. (It is, so Galad was right, but he couldn’t know that for sure. Naturally Valda did not tell Galad whether his sexual encounter with Morgase was forced.) Galad gave Valda a trial by combat under the Light, yet Galad doesn’t see the outcome as “proof” of Valda’s guilt. Once, Galad would have. Once, Galad would have accepted that the outcome of a trial under the Light shows whether the accused is guilty or not.

Interestingly, Perrin is not too shocked when told Morgase is his queen. Galad assumes Morgase abdicated after Perrin “captured” her, but it was after the Seanchan conquered the Whitecloaks and she gave forced consent to Valda. Morgase assures Galad that Perrin is not a Darkfriend, and Perrin that she will judge the trial fairly.

I thought Galad had great character development in this chapter:

I killed Valda, Galad thought immediately. Killed him for the death of my mother. Who is not dead. I have done evil.

Towers of Midnight, Parley

The perfect man has never been shown to be in error before – let alone to such a serious degree.

Galad insists there must be a trial – a fair one - and that the Whitecloaks must prove their claims. No longer is a trial by combat or battle enough in Galad’s eyes to prove guilt or innocence. His own error proved that to him. There must be evidence and a say from both sides.

Byar is forced to see reason and quiet his protests by Galad. It’s impressive that someone under Compulsion still respects Galad enough to go against their programming.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Towers of Midnight Read-Through #32: Chapter 25 - Return to Bandar Eban



By Linda


WARNING: CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR TOWERS OF MIDNIGHT

Not only does the sun shine when Rand arrives, but the wind clears away the stenches. (Decent food is very obviously worth more than gold and silver. It always is: health, body and soul, is one of the most valuable things.)

Iralin the dockmaster kept people away from the rotten food so they didn’t die by spreading false rumours about the Sea Folk. When he berates Rand, Rand accepts it, but Min defends Rand, saying he can’t do everything.

The open sacks are full of rotten food, but when Rand opens a sack it is fine. He says that they only opened the rotten ones – something very unlikely, but possible, more possible than that he undid the Dark One’s touch by his presence and made rotten things hale again. The food is killing rats, which is ironic, since rats are the Dark One’s spies and report to him.

Bandar Eban has become utterly rotten and stinking due to Rand’s use of the True Power and balefire (double sin) there to kill Semirhage. (Natrin’s Barrow was some distance away from the capital.) He was also forced to torture one of his loves in Bandar Eban. Now he has returned to right the wrongs he did here, or more correctly, the consequences of his actions rather than wrongs. In contrast, Ituralde has been going through hell fulfilling his part of the bargain he made with Rand, which was to keep the Shadow from overrunning Saldaea in return for Rand restoring order to Arad Doman.

The parlous state of the city makes Rand conscious of his errors and failings, and the good qualities of the Seanchan. Tuon brings order and justice (Link). The comparison (and the way he treated Tam) made Rand want to destroy.

"I wasn't here. I abandoned this city when I saw that I could not use it as the tool I wished it to be. I forgot, Min. I forgot what this was all about. Tam was so very right. A man must know why he is fighting."

Towers of Midnight Return to Bandar Eban

In contrast to earlier, Rand doesn’t call Tam his father. It may be that in later times people forget Tam was his foster father, and write about Rand as born of a maiden, no father, fostered…

Guilt and shame exhaust Rand:

"I know I must go on," Rand said, "but it hurts to know the things that I've done, Min. By turning myself to steel, I pushed out all of these emotions. By allowing myself to care again, to laugh again, I've had to open myself to my failures, too."

Towers of Midnight Return to Bandar Eban

Min gives Rand hope, by telling him of the future. The Prophecies of the Dragon are all about doom and gloom; he needs something more positive, rather than “damage control” or survival instructions. Not that these aren’t important, but they aren’t enough by themselves. Then her viewing widens from Rand to everyone in sight. This is very rare and is perhaps due to the effect of Rand feeling more positive.

Also, Min believes in him, and shows him that she doesn’t blame him for what Semirhage made him do. Her love and belief give him essential confidence:

"You're more vital than them all. You remind me who I am. Besides, you think more clearly than most of those who call themselves my counselors. You could be a queen, if you wished it."

Towers of Midnight Return to Bandar Eban

Min is the only character who just wants to help and support Rand. Rand passes on the hope and trust that she gave him to the Domani and inspires them to clean up their city themselves. Earlier Rand invaded with a peace-keeping force (which of course had to be maintained), now he promotes a more self-sustaining order.

Rand acts like he doesn’t need many guards now. He seems to be very aware of his ‘miraculous’ abilities or qualities now, before they become evident. Often Rand seems to be deliberately expressing enigmatic, zen-like qualities. He still doesn’t answer questions, but now it is to gently make himself mysterious, whereas before it was because he tyrannically refused to be beholden to anyone and explain himself. For example, when asked if he can ennoble people, he smiles and says somebody has to. He will remain a day or so for the Domani to “make things stable”. He is also making the Pattern stable so rot and sickness die down. The people he has gathered can be trusted. Very telling.

Iralin is sceptical it can be done so quickly, but Min says

"I think you'll be surprised by him, Lord Iralin," Min said, gripping the ladder and starting to climb. "I am, each day."

Towers of Midnight Return to Bandar Eban

I believe that Rand is setting up his legacy for when he dies; making his own legend, rather than allowing the Shadow or time to trash his memory as happened to Lews Therin. Perhaps he thinks this is how he will ‘live’ after he dies.