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LoC 54-Epilogue (FRR-2012)

 
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Rhodric
Lord of the Morning


Joined: 19 Sep 2007
Posts: 1659
Location: Shanaine, Manetheren

PostPosted: Mon Oct 29, 2012 4:43 pm
Post subject: LoC 54-Epilogue (FRR-2012)
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Loc Ch. 54 "The Sending"


"His unstrung Two Rivers bow was thrust through the saddle girth on one side, and the full quiver hung in front of the high cantled saddle, balancing a long narrow, neatly wrapped bundle. Rand's sword. Faile had tied that package herself and handed it to him without a word. She had said something, after he had turned away realizing he would receive no kiss.
"[If you fall,"] she whispered, "[I will take up your sword.']"

It's dawn of the second day of the Feast of Lights and Perrin, Loial, and Gaul are striding grimly through empty streets--'the Ogier's face made the bearded man's look jolly'--reminds me of the fight at the ok corral (depicted in the movies Tombstone and Wyatt Earp, among others). Originally, Berelain means to lead her Winged Guards, personally, which would have boosted manpower considerably, but it would mean Faile coming too, a disaster in more ways than one:

" '[If you leave the city Rand al'Thor has given you as his hand," Rhuarc said quietly, "how many rumors will grow of it? If you send all of your spears, how many rumors? What will grow from those tales?" It sounded like advise, and then again it did not; something in the clan chief's voice made it much stronger.
Berelain gazed at him, smelling stubborn and head high. Slowly the stubborn smell faded, and she muttered to herself.
"Sometimes I think there are too many men who can...." It was just audible to Perrin. Smiling, she spoke aloud in a remarkably regal tone. "That is sound advice, Rhuarc. I think that I will take it]."

Rhuarc and Berelain have some kind of father/daughter relationship going on. It's a trifle strange but I guess it works for them. the important thing is neither Faile nor Berelain will be making the trip. Across the river, Perrin meets up with Dobraine and Rhuarc and finds out just how many men they are going to have:

" 'Five thousand men from different societies; a few more than five. I could not bring many. Timolan was suspicious as it is that I did not go with him against the Shaido. If it becomes common knowledge that Aes Sedai hold the Car'a'carn, I fear the bleakness will swallow us all." Nandera and Sulin coughed loudly at the same time; the two women glared at one another, and after a moment Sulin looked away, blushing. Rhuarc spared them a glance--he smelled exasperated--and muttered, "I also have nearly a thousand Maidens. Had I not tightened my fist, I would have every last one of them running after me, carrying a torch to tell the world that Rand al'Thor is in danger." Abruptly his voice hardened, "Any Maiden I find following us will learn that I mean what I say.' "

So--six thousand Aiel and five hundred Cairhienin lancers from House Taborwin, with two hundred of Berelain's Winged Guards, led by Havien Nurelle, thrown in for good measure. Also, ninety-four Wise Ones who can channel, the strongest near Cairhien, led by Sorilea and Amys. Now if they were chasing only six Aes Sedai, they'd be golden.

The wolves have the best names for things. Horses are 'hard-footed four legs' and Aes Sedai 'two-legged she's who touch the wind that moves the sun and call fire.' The make thirty-five miles the first day and that night is clear night, a good night for hunting, a good night for wolves. Perrin reaches out to the wolves with the hope of locating the Aes Sedai party. He does, they do, he does, and by his best guestimate of translating wolfie-speak to human-speak puts the Aes Sedai at seventy to eighty miles ahead--which about the time that the wolves ask the immortal question, "why?"

"[Why?] That was Half Tail, passed along and scent-marked. Perrin hesitated before answering. He had dreaded this. He felt about the wolves as he did about Two Rivers people. [They have caged Shadowkiller,] he thought at last. That was what the wolves called Rand, but he had no idea whether they considered Rand important.
The shock filling his mind was answer enough, but howls filled the night, near and far, howls filled with rage and fear. In the camp horses whinnied fearfully, stamping their hooves as they shied against the picket ropes. Men ran to calm them, and others to peer into the darkness as if expecting a huge pack to come after the mounts.
[We come,] Half Tail replied at last. Only that, and then others answered, packs Perrin had spoken to and packs that had listened silently to the two-legs who could speak as the wolves did. [We come.] No more."

Hooroooooooooo. Ahahahhoooooooooo. We come! We come! I bloody love it. Blood and bloody ashes, that's gotta be one of the most iconic moments in the entire series. It seems Perrin has a short memory, back in tGH, the wolves were in awe of Shadowkiller, though I guess awe doesn't indicate whether they think him important. This is the first major pay off with the whole wolf-brother thing. He spent all of book one running away from it. In book two he used the wolves somewhat to track Fain. In book three the wolves fought the shadowspawn with the humans at their little mountain retreat, and since then they hadn't been utilized much.

Perrin is slicing about ten miles per day off the Aes Sedai lead, but he still doesn't know what to do once he actually does catch up. Dobraine and Rhuarc seem to be in agreement, though they don't phrase it that way, that they should just charge in and die doing their best. Perrin plumbs Loial for information about Aes Sedai, because Ogier are book smart, but Loial's answer is far from reassuring:

" 'There are several books about Aes Sedai dealing with men who can channel." Loial frowned around his pipe; its leaf-carved bowl was as big as Perrin's two fists. "Elora, daughter of Amar daughter of Coura, wrote [Men of Fire and Women of Air] in the arly days of Artur Hawkwing's reign. And Ledar, son of Shadin son of Koimel, wrote [A Study of Men, Women and the One Power Among Humans] only some three hundred years ago. Those are the two best, I think. Elora in particular; she wrote in the style of...No. I will be brief." Perrin doubted that, brevity was seldom numbered among Loial's virtues when he spoke of books. The Ogier cleared his throat. "By Tower law, the man must be taken to the Tower for trial before he can be gentled."

Aes Sedai flout Tower law at the drop of a hat. At least they do when they think they can get away with it. Even Moiraine was a lawbreaker, but she was sort of playing for team Dragon, so we overlook that. The laws surrounding male channelers are some of the most abused. There was the vileness twenty years ago, and in general, many of the Red Ajah, don't think of male channelers as human, so why obey the law? During the vileness, the Red Ajah was co-opted by the Black, in an effort to kill the Dragon Reborn as an infant or small boy. Male channelers were killed on the spot, and even when they weren't, they were gentled on the spot, without trial or accord. Many times just the rumor of someone being lucky was enough to seal their demise.

" 'What I do not understand is how they captured him." That huge head swung in open puzzlement. "Perrin both Elora and Ledar say that when Aes Sedai find a man of great power, they always gather thirteen to take him. OH, they recount stories of four or five, and both mention Caraighan--she brought a man nearly two thousand miles to the Tower by herself after he killed both her Warders--but...Perrin, they wrote of Yurian Stonebow and Guaire Amalasan. Of Raolin Darksbane and Davian, as well, but the others are who worry me." Those were four of the most powerful among the men who had called themselves the Dragon Reborn, before Artur Hawkwing. "Six Aes Sedai tried to capture Stonebow, and he killed three and captured the others himself. Six tried to take Amalasan; he killed one and stilled two more. Surely Rand is as strong as Stonebow or Amalasan. Are there really only six ahead of us? It would explain much.' "

If there was ever any doubt, I think that seals it. A few interesting things occur as they are traveling. Nandera and Sulin are constantly fighting over leading the Maidens until they get into a wrestling match. Sulin knocks her out and then ever after Nandera is the undisputed leader. I don't really understand it myslef, but maybe Sulin lost some face with her toh. Sorilea and Amys do something similar, but they just go off to drink tea and when they come back Sorilea is still in charge but considers Amys "almost an equal." Predictably, the Cairhienin and Aiel hate each other, the Mayeners somewhat bridge the gap, but Nurelle is hero worshipping Perrin, which he hates. Overall it's a somewhat controlled chaos--and then, and then, the Salidar nine with the Two Rivers men, lead by Dannil, catch up.

" 'He's being held prisoner. An Aes Sedai named Coiren and at least five others are taking him to Tar Valon. At least, they mean to. I mean to stop them." That caused considerable shock, with Dannil's eyes widening and Aes Sedai all talking at once. Aram was the only one who did not appear affected, but then, he did not seem to care much about anything except Perrin and his sword. The smells from the Aes Sedai were all outrage and fear for all their calm faces.
"We have to stop them, Bera," came from a woman with her hair in beaded Taraboner braids, just as a pale Cairhienin woman on a lanky mare said, "We cannot allow Elaida to have him, Bera."
"Six?" the hazel-eyed woman said incredulously. "Six could not take him. I am sure of it."
"I told you he was injured," Alanna half-wept. Perrin knew her scent well enough to pick itout; she smelled of pain. "I told you." Verin kept silent, but she smelled furious--and afraid."

If there was any doubt to how bad Rand is injured, Alanna's condition should prove the severity. Alanna's pretty emotional, and still suffering from her Warder's death in tSR but even so, for her to be in that much pain, when Rand is miles away, it's got to be bad, really bad. Maybe more telling, maybe by far, Verin is afraid.

Perrin joins the Aes Sedai and Two Rivers men back with the main party. Bera and Kiruna try to take charge, but Perrin just ignores them. They bring out the Dragon Banner and the Banner of Light (ancient symbol of Aes Sedai on a field of crimson), which the Aes Sedai don't much like but who cares what they think. On the tenth day, midmorning, Perrin gets a sending from the wolves

"[Come now. Many two-legs. Many, many, many! Come now!]"



LoC Ch. 55 "Dumai's Wells"


"He could not see the one wagon, in the center of the column with six Aes Sedai always riding beside it, that had no canvas cover. He would have killed al'Thor if he could, but this sickened him. Even Erian had refused to take part any longer after the second day, and the Light knew she had cause. Galina was adamant, though. "

It's telling that even Gawyn is sickened, even Erian, who lost two Warders, refused to take part in the beatings after the second day. The Aes Sedai aren't complete monsters, well most of them aren't. I guess imprisoning, or shielding, or even gentling a man is ok, but they draw the line at torture.

Gawyn's obsessing over Egwene's letter and praying she understands that he won't harm Rand but he won't help him either. He wants to get Min out, but I'm not sure what he's gonna do? Kill some Warders and spirit her away? Maybe if she got loose he'd have some Min escort her away, I don't know. About then, Benji Dalfor (who just celebrated his first shaving in the prologue) gallops up hunched over and streaming blood.

" 'Aiel," he mumbled. "Thousands. All sides, I think." Suddenly he smiled. "Cold today, isn't--" Blood gushed out of his mouth, and he toppled to the road, staring unblinking at the sun."

Galina storms up and starts yelling, then Gawyn starts yelling and she relents and lets him stop the wagons and get the men in a defensive position. I'm not sure what changes her mind. Maybe the dead scout, maybe the fact than only an imbecile would trust Sevanna.

***

"Muttering darkly, Rand returned to feeling blindly across that smooth plain to the six soft points. Sooner or later, they would let him out. Sooner or later, they would slacken their guard. And when they did....He did not even know it when he began a rasping laugh."

***

"Crawling up the gentle slope on his belly, Perrin peered over the crest into a scene from the Dark One's dreams. The wolves had given him some notion of what to expect, but notions paled beside reality. Perhaps a mile from where he lay beneath the midday sun, a huge milling mass of Shaido completely surrounded what seemed to be a ring of wagons and men centered on a small clump of trees not far from the road. A number of the wagons were bonfires, flames dancing. Balls of fire, small as a fist and large as boulders, hurtled into the Aiel, gouts of fire flared, turning a dozen at a time to torches; lightning fell from a cloudless sky, hurling earth and cadin'sor--clad figures into the air. But silver flashes of lightning struck at the wagons, too, and fire leaped from the Aiel. Much of that fire suddenly died or exploded short of any target, many of the lightning bolts stopped abruptly, but if the battle seemed slightly in favor of the Aes Sedai, the sheer number of Shaido had to prove overwhelming eventually.
"There must be two or three hundred women channeling down there, if not more." Kiruna, lying beside him, sounded impressed. Sorilea, beyond the Green sister, certainly looked impressed. The Wise One smelled concerned; not afraid, but troubled. "I have never seen so many weaves at once," the Aes Sedai went on. "I think there are at least thirty sisters in the camp. You have brought us to a boiling cauldron, young Aybara."
"Forty thousand Shaido," Rhuarc muttered grimly on Perrin's other side. He even smelled grim. "Forty thousand at the least, and small satisfaction to know why they did not send more south."
"The Lord Dragon is down there?" Dobraine asked, looking across Rhuarc. Perrin nodded. "And you mean to go in there and bring him out?" Perrin nodded again, and Dobraine sighed. He smelled resigned, not afraid. "We will go in, Lord Aybara, but I do not believe we will come out." Thiis time Rhuarc nodded."

There's not much of a battle plan involved. Just hit them hard, try to break through and hope Rand isn't too injured to make a gateway before they are all killed. The Two Rivers men are split between the Aes Sedai and Wise Ones, with the Winged Guards. They are supposed to stay back and cover the retreat. Perrin should have known the Wise Ones and Aes Sedai aren't going to stay back. And now Dobraine's finest hour:

"Dobraine drew his sword, raised it high. "The Lord Dragon, Taborwin, and victory!" he shouted, and the shout came from five hundred throats as lances snapped down.
Perrin had just time to seize hold of Dobraine's stirrup before the Cairhienin were thundering forward. Loail's long legs matched the horses pace by pace. Loping along, letting the horse pull him in long leaping strides, Perrin sent his mind out. [Come.]
Ground covered with brown grass, seemingly empty, suddenly gave birth to a thousand wolves, lean brown plains wolves, and some of their darker, heavier forest cousins, running low to hurl themselves into the backs of the Shaido with snapping jaws just as the first long Two Rivers shafts rained out of the sky beyond them. A second flight already arched high. New lightnings fell with the arrows, new fires bloomed. Veiled Shaido turning to fight wolves had only moments to realize they were not the only threat before a solid spear of Aiel stabbed into them alongside a hammer of Cairhienin lancers."

That scene has a lot of nostalgia in it. Between Dobraine and the wolves it's definitely a fist pumping moment. One of Jordan's favorite methods of storytelling is to take an event, an action and show it from multiple viewpoints, not necessarily in chronological order. Here, at Dumai's Wells, the event is Rand's escape from the chest.

"From somewhere ahead came a hollow boom, like a thunderclap cutting through the din of screams and shouts. A moment later, a slash of light appeared not twenty paces from him, slicing through several men and a horse like a huge razor as it widened into a gateway. A black-coated man with a sword jumped out of it, and went down with a Shaido spear through his middle, but a moment later eight or nine more sprang through as the gateway vanished, forming a circle around the fallen man with their swords."

The Calvary has arrived? Maybe not the kind of Calvary everyone was hoping for. Perrin doesn't have much time to think about that though as the Shaido are doing their best to kill him.

"Every part of him centered on staying alive for one heartbeat more. Almost every part. One corner of his mind held an image of Faile, and the sad thought that he would not be able to apologize for not coming back to her."

***


"Doubled painfully inside the chest, panting, Rand fumbled at the shield between him and the Source. Moarning floated across the Void, grim fury and burning fear slid along the edge of it; he was no longer altogether certain which was his and which Lews Therin's. Suddenly his breath froze. Six points, but one was hard now. Not soft; hard. And then a second. A third. Rasping laughter filled his ears; that was his, he realized after a moment. A fourth knot became hard. he waited, trying to stifle what sounded uncomfortably like deranged giggling. the last two points remained soft. Those muffled cackles died.
[They will feel it,] Lews Therin groaned desperately. [They will feel it and call the others back.]"

Sisters are being pulled off (or pulling themselves off) shield duty to keep the camp from being overrun. The Shaido are being held, but it's pretty bad. Of course, they are outnumbered ten to one, so it is understandable. Without this attack, or an attack, I don't think they ever tie off the shields, if only because of tradition, and the fact, there are thirty-nine sisters in camp, so an almost unlimited number to cycle in and out as they fatigue. Of course, Rand's act (though perhaps less of an act daily) of being broken may have played its part in convincing them that there was no danger in tying off the shield. It's hard to fear someone you've been treating like a prisoner of war for weeks.

"There was nothing there, any more than the shield itself was anything he could feel or see, but somehow he could feel [around] this nothingness, feel a shape to it. Like knots. There was always space between the cords in a knot, however tightly pulled, gaps finer than a hair, where only air could go. slowly, ever so slowly, he fumbled into one of those gaps, squeezing through infinitesimal spaces between what seemed not to be there at all. Slowly. How long before the others returned? If they took it up again before he found a way through this torturous labyrinth...Slowly. And suddenly he could feel the Source, like brushing it with a fingernail; the bare edge of a fingernail. Saidin was still beyond him--the shield was still there--but he could feel hope welling in Lews Therin. Hope and trepidation. Two Aes Sedai were still holding their part of the barrier, still aware of what they held."

Well to remember that channeling capacity is physical in nature. When you are tired or injured you aren't as strong, can't do as much, as you could well rested, and the same is true for the amount you can channel; Rand is nowhere near his full strength, so it takes less to shield him than it might normally.

"It was as if he flex what he had extended through the knot, flexed it as hard as he could. the knot resisted. It trembled. And then it burst. There were only five. The barrier thinned. He could feel it grow less. An invisible wall only five bricks tick now instead of six."

Fascinating really and incredibly simple. It's amazing how much has been forgotten about the nature of channeling, the interaction between the human mind as well as the abilities, naturally conferred, by the ability to touch the True Source. No wonder they are so contemptuous of Rand attempting to break through the shield, to them such a thing would seem to be impossible. Of course it would be to him--considering men are considerably stronger than women in strength in the power.

"Quick, almost frantically, he attacked the remaining knots in turn. A second went; the shield thinned. It was quicker now, quicker with each, as if he were learning the path through, though it was different each time. The third knot gone. And a third soft point appeared; maybe the Aes Sedai did not know what he was doing, but they would not simply sit while the shield grew less and less. Truly frantic, Rand hurled himself at the fourth knot. He had to unravel it before a fourth sister came into the shield; four might be able to hold it whatever he did. Almost weeping, he struggled through the complex windings, slipping between nothingness. Frenziedly, he flexed, bursting the knot. The shield remained, but held by only three now. If he could only move fast enough."

I'm not sure what accounts for the "learning the path." He could just be learning the method, or he could be "remembering" it from the Lews Therin memories. Previously, he would do something new with saidin, without knowing what he was doing, and afterwards, remember what he did "as though it were something he had forgotten." It also could be that modern Aes Sedai tie rather primitive knots. Both Moghedien and Lanfear (on Liandrin and Asmodean respectively) that they feel know modern woman will be able to untie--in fact seem even more contemptuous than normal on their ability in that area. So--maybe Rand has learned, just that quickly, the pattern Tower trained acolytes use in tying off weaves.

"When he reached for saidin, the invisible barrier was still there, but it no longer seemed stone or brick. It gave as he pressed, bending under his pressure, bending, bending. Suddenly it tore apart before him like rotted cloth. the Power filled him, and as it did, he seized at those three soft points, crushing them ruthlessly in fists of Spirit. Aside from that, he still could only channel where he could see, and all he could see, dimly, was the inside of the chest, what he could glimpse of it with his head forced between his knees. Before he even finished with the fists of Spirit, he channeled Air. The chest exploded away from him with a loud boom.
[They will pay,] Lews Therin growled. [I am the Lord of the Morning.]"

*Cackles* Death and destruction! I will kill them all! Hmm I'm not sure why Min is bound hand and foot right outside the box, maybe there was no one to watch her, maybe they were going to put a knife to her throat if he tried anything. After freeing Min, Rand staggered around camp like a drunk cutpurse, shielding and clubbing Aes Sedai unconscious. This probably allows Perrin's people, and the Asha'man to get inside and secure the camp faster. Though the Asha'man might nto have had much trouble. The Aes Sedai don't seem able to counter saidin. I think the Red Ajah has some methods...but nobody knows what a black coat means...yet. On the surface, Rand's escape might seem a little anti-climatic or less important that in could of been considering he has allies here to rescue him, but consider for a moment, Taim and his cronies, or even the Salidar Aes Sedai finding him helpless bound in that chest. Yeah...that could have been bad.

" 'Min," Gawyn grated, "I can take you out of here."
She peeked past Rand's shoulder to shake her head; she was holding on to him so tightly, he did not think he could have pried her loose had he wanted to. "I'm staying with him, Gawyn. Gawyn, Elayne loves him."
With the Power in him, Rand could see the man's knuckles go white on his sword hilt. "Jisao," he said in a flat voice. "Rally the Younglings. We are cutting a way out of here." If his voice had been flat before, now it went dead. "Al'Thor, one day i will see you die." Digging his heels in, he galloped away, and all the others shoutoing "Younglings!" at the top of their lungs, and more men in green coats cutting their way to join them with every stride.
A man in a black coat darted in front of Rand, staring after Gawyn, and the ground erupted in a gout of fire and dearth that toppled half a dozen horses as they reached the wagons. Rand saw Gawyn sway in the saddle in the instant before he beat the black-coated man to the ground with a mace of Air. He did not know the hard-faced young man w ho snarled at him, but the fellow wore both the sword and Dragon on his high Collar, and saidin filled him."

I love that little encounter. Poor lil Gawyn, his little sis loves the Dragon. Go cry into your dolly. Rand saves his bacon here but will get no thanks, just like he got no thanks for saving Andor. Andoran royals are just the worst. I realize Rand *is* an Andoran royal, technically, but maybe Tigraine was the one family member with a lick of sense. After Rand beats Gedwyn, like a baby seal, I think he's run afoul of all of Taim's Lieutenants. Well not Kisman, but he’s sort of the sad and pathetic one of that bunch. As to how Taim found Rand, and the Asha’man arrived in the knick of time--nothing too earth shattering--straight from RJ’s mouth--”Taim’s a paranoid s.o.b.” Apparently he know pretty much what had happened from the very beginning--Rand and Perrin disappearing, the Aes Sedai leaving Cairhien--though it remains to be seen if he merely put two and two together, or had insider information. As for locating the camp, you can travel short distances without knowing the ground or your location, so “hopping” in five, ten, twenty mile chunks made finding the camp easy.

Taim wants to wait it out for a couple hours until they learn the ground, safe behind the dome barrier, and then Travel out. Obviously Rand won’t do that. It’s curious though, with skimming, you only need to know your destination, so they could have skimmed immediately. Perhaps Taim doesn’t know it at all. There’s no real reason to use it over traveling except when you can’t Travel. Perrin shows up and wants Rand to release the barrier to go help, specifically the Two Rivers men, but Rand doesn’t want to play favorites, even though he’s not nearly as cold hearted as he appears. I’m not sure if he really has to do this or just thinks he has to, but he’s made up his mind to try to protect the Two Rivers by abandoning it. Perrin wants Rand to let just him (and Loial) out to warn people off but Rand isn’t willing to do that either.

“ ‘Sevanna wants my head, Taim. Apparently she thought she could take it today.” The emotionless quality the Void gave his voice was appropriate. It did seem to worry Min, though; she was stroking his back as though to calm him. “I mean to let her know her mistake. I told you to make weapons, Taim. Show me just how deadly they are. Disperse the Shaido, break them.’ “

BREAK THEM. Haha I love it--the Shaido suck dude.

“Black-coated men rushed to plac themselves between th barrier and everyone else, all of them exept Jur and those watching Aes Sedai. Except for Nesune, who peered intently at everything, the Tower lot had sunk listlessly to their knees, not even looking at the men who had them shielded, and even Nesune stilllooked on the point of sicking up. The Salidar group stared coldly at the Asha’man guarding them for the most part, though now and then they turning those icy eyes on Rand. Alanna stared only at Rand. His skin was tingled faintly, he realized; for him to feel it at that distance, all nine must be embracing saidar. He hoped they had enough sense not to channel; the stony men facing them held saidin to bursting, and they looked as tense as the Warders fingering their swords.
“Asha’man, raise the barricade two spans!” At Taim’s command, the edges of the dome rose all around. Surprised Shaido who had been pushing at waht they could not see stumbled forward. They recovered instantly, a black-veiled mass surging forward, but they had time for only a stride before Taim’s next shout.
“Asha’man kill!”
The front rank of the Shaido exploded. There was no other way to put it. Cadin’sor-clad shapes burst apart in sprays of blood and flesh. Flows of saidin reached through that thick mist, darting from figure to figure in the blink of an eye, and the next row of Shaido died, then the next, and the next, as though they were running into an enormous meat grinder. Staring at the slaughter, Rand swallowed. Perrin bent over to empty his stomach, and Rand understood fully. Another rank died. nandera put a hand over her eyes, and Sulin turned her back. The bloody ruins of human beings began to make a wall.
No one could stand up to that. Between one blast of death and the next, the Shaido in front were suddenly struggling the other way, forcing themselves back into the mass fighting to get foreward. The milling tangle itself began to explode, and then all of them were falling back. No, running. The rain of fire and lightning against the dome faltered.
“Asha’man,” Taim’s voice rang out, “rolling ring of Earth and Fire!”
Beneath the feet of the Shaido nearest the wagons the ground suddenly erupted in fountains of flame and dirt, hurling men in every direction. While bodies still hung in the air, more gouts of flame roared from the ground, and more, in an expanding ring all the way around the wagons, pursuing the Shaido for fifty paces, a hundred, two hundred. There was nothing but panic and death out there now. Spears and bucklers were cast aside. The dome above stood clear except for the smoke rising from the burning wagons.
“Stop!” The roar of explosions swallowed Rand’ shout as well as it did men’s screams. He wove the flows Taim had used. “Stop it, Taim!” His voice crashed like thunder over everythign.
One more ring of eruptions, and Taim called, Asha’man rest!’ “

You have done well, Asha’man. I was talking to my friend, Bryan, and we agreed that one of the things that made “Dumai’s Wells” special was finding out finally what the Asha’man could really do. The weaves and the methods seem a bit simplistic, and definitely barbaric, compared to what Rand, and others, can later do, but that just adds to the horror, I think. Men can be taken, trained for a few months, and on only a few months training, turned into killing machines. Twenty-three of the Tower Aes Sedai have been captured, meaning that sixteen escaped. Kiruna and Bera are full of how Rand has done well, and they came to rescue him, and intentions do count. I’m sure they do---between their initial talk of “leashing” him and comments about not letting Elaida “have” him, I don’t know what they would have done if they had found him captive and without the Asha’man facing them and readying shields.

“Kiruna drew herself up proudly. Whatever she was, she was certainly no farmer. “You forget who we are. They may have mistreated you, but we--”
“I forget nothing, Aes Sedai,” Rand said coldly. “I said six could come, but I count nine. I said you would on equal footing with the Tower emissaries, and for bringing nine, you will be. They are on their knees Aes Sedai. Kneel!”
Coldly serene faces stared back at hm. He felt Asha’man readying shields of Spirit. Defiance grew on Kiruna’s face, on Bera’s, on others. Two dozen black-coated men made a ring around Rand and the Aes Sedai.
Taim appeared as close to a smile as Rand had ever seen him. “Kneel and swear to the Lord Dragon,” he said softly, “or you will be knelt.”
As stories do, the tale spread, across Cairhien and north and south, by merchant train and peddler and simple traveler gossiping at an inn. As stories do, the tale changed with every telling. The Aiel had turned on the Dragon Reborn and killed him, at Dumai’s Wells or elsewhere. No, the Aes Sedai had saved Rand al’Thor. It as Aes Sedai who had killed him--no, gentled him--no, carried him to Tar Valon where he languished in a dungeon beneath the White Tower. Or elsewhere the Amyrlin Seat herself knelt to him. Unusually for stories, it was something very close to truth that was most often believed.
On a day of fire and blood, a tattered banner waved above Dumai’s Wells, bearing the ancient symbol of Aes Sedai.
On a day of fire and blood and the One Power, as prophesy had suggested, the unstained tower, broken, bent knee to the forgotten sign.
The first nine Aes Sedai swore fealty to the Dragon Reborn, and the world was changed forever.”

I still think is is the most satisfying conclusion to a WoT book to date. The only one that comes close for impact power is Winter’s Heart, and LoC feels more complete. I didn’t think I’d ever see Aes Sedai swear fealty to a man who can channel. Traditionally, they don’t swear fealty to person, not even the Amyrlin Seat--only the White Tower. This well enrage Egwene, it is something she begins to do herself, but Rand does it first, if not in the same way. This is the beginning of the end, but not the end of this book, no not quite yet, the epilogue beckons.


Epilogue: The Answer


“The man only paused long enough to rest his hand on the door of the sedan chair, and was away as soon as Falion took the note from his fingers. Her rap had the two bearers moving almost before the fellow in Tarasin Palace livery stepped back into the crowd of the square.”

Falion Bhoda--one of Liandrin’s thirteen, sent to Ebou Dar by Moghedien to search for a cache of angreal and other objects of the Power. And Elayne and Nynaeve thought Ebou Dar would be simple--no Black Ajah or Forsaken like Tanchico. There is no peace with the Shadow, girls. She has a spy in the palace. It could be a regular eye and ear but it’s a darkfriend, lets not kid ourselves. The subject of the letter is El and Nyn gone again. Falion thinks that if she can’t find this cache she can deliver the girls to Moghedien at least. After all, they ruined everything in Tanchico, and a little revenge is called for. I love how, as if, Dumai’s Wells wasn’t a big enough kick to the gut, RJ has to add three or four more things before the glossary. Oh Falion is also thinking oh murdering and putting an Ebou Dari Wise Woman to the question. Interesting times on the Sea of Storms.

***

“Sitting in his study, Herid Fel was peering into his pipe and wondering whether he had the means of lighting it at hand when the Gholam squeezed under the door. Of course, even if Fel had been paying attention, he would not have believed, and once the Gholam was inside the room, few men would have stood any chance.”

If there’s any doubt that Herid’s last message to Rand was of any importance, this erases it. “Belief and order give strength......must clear the rubble before you can build.” RJ was asked why he was killed...”because certain people thought he might reveal too much.” Lord Barthanes, off screen, in book 2 was killed by a gholam in the very same building---the school is his old manor house. The question being, is this Mat’s gholam or a second? We might not be as done with Gholam as we believe....


***

“ ‘I thought you would see it so,” Halima--or Aran’gar--chuckled richly. She touched the necklace, flinching slightly, and Moghedien wondered again about a woman who apparently channeled saidin and was hurt, however faintly, by touching what should only hurt, a man who could channel. then the necklace was off, being slipped hastily into the woman’s pouch. “Go Moghedien. Go, now.”

Halima waltzes into Moggy’s tent tells her she has been summoned to Shayol Ghul and releases her from the a’dam. The chaos multiplies--Egwene of course feels the collar come off and the flash of pain that says that a man who can channel has touched the collar. She wonders if Logain could possibly have come back, could possibly have known, and if so how? That's a lot of chaos fear and uncertainty let loose in the Salidar camp.

***

"Demandred knelt in the Pit of Doom, and for once he did not care that Shaidar Haran watched his trembling with that eyeless, impassive gaze. "Have I not done well, Great Lord?"
The Great Lord's laughter filled Demandred's head."
I think who the Lord of Chaos is, is pretty obvious, but the guide tells us, and also why the Great Lo..er Dark One would want to let him rule:

"
The Feast of Fools

Celebrated in Tammaz (in Arad Doman and the Borderlands) or Saven (everywhere else), the exact day varying according to locality. A day in which all order is deliberately inverted; the high perform lowly tasks (running errands, serving at table, etc.) while the low do no work and give orders to their usual superiors. In many villages and towns the most foolish person is given a title such as the Lord/Lady of Unreason/Misrule/Chaos or the King/Queen of Fools. Not an honour sought, but for that one day everyone has to obey whatever orders, however foolish, are given by the chosen one. (Called the Festival of Unreason in Saldaea; and the Festival of Fools in Kandor; Foolday in Baerlon and the Two Rivers.) Note: In Tear, Illian, and the southern half of Altara, the time between the Feast of Abram and the Feast of Fools is considered the most propitious for a wedding."

The Lord of Chaos is Rand, and not at all an honor. Chilling in more ways than one, in that the Dark One thinks giving Rand free reign serves his interests best, and regard with which he holds the Dragon, and the Light in general. And he hasn't even revealed his true plan yet.


"
The unstained tower breaks and bends knee to the forgotten sign.
The seas rage, and stormclouds gather unseen.
Beyond the horizon, hidden fires swell, and serpents nestle in the bosom.
What was exalted is cast down; what was cast down is raised up.
Order burns to clear his path.

-The Prophesies of the Dragon
translation by Jeorad Manyard
Governor of the Province of Andor for
the High King, Artur Paendrag Tanreall

"


It must really stick in their craw that the breaking of their Tower was foretold in prophesy and legend. Pretty straight forward, I think--Aes Sedai kneeling to swear fealty to Rand, who's banner is sign of the Hall of Servants--the ancient symbol of Aes Sedai. Casting down the White Tower as it was, and raising up the reviled, the Anathema- male channelers. But it's more than that--it's...men and women working together instead of the unstained Tower, above and apart casting down judgment. Order must burn--the old order, fragmented nations and the Tower above all--it must change for him to do what must be done. I wonder if the stormclouds is the great storm that Nynaeve senses and that shows itself in tGS? Many things are gathering unseen--many characters think that Tarmon Gai'don is nigh, a few years away, but it's already begun.
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