Lord of the Morning
Joined: 19 Sep 2007
Location: Shanaine, Manetheren
|Posted: Thu Nov 01, 2012 8:55 am
Post subject: aCoS Prologue (FRR-2012)
|ACoS Prologue: Lightnings
I just got hit by a wave of massive nostalgia. More like a tidal wave. When I first read this, well I was living overseas and it was hard to get information. We came to the States for Christmas break in December 1995 and I was fully expecting to be able to get good seven, but it was no where to be seen. It didn't exist. Needless to say, I was heartbroken and I had given up hope when in June of 1996 I picked up the local military paper, which had a few items from the states in it, and low and behold I saw, on the New York Times Bestseller List, A Crown of Swords by Robert Jordan. I was saved. SAVED I TELL YOU. Anyways a month later I was back in the states camping. My dad wanted to start off by hiking until we were able to get settled. So while hiking and camping, one day we went into town and I saw it in the bookstore of an outlet mall. Channeling my best inner Mat Cauthon, I swindled my dad into buying it. Took it back to the campsite, and read til the sun went down, then read by flashlight. Eventually the flashlight died, at which point, i opened the flaps in the tent's roof and read by moonlight. Twas truly glorious. Truly Glorious.
“There can be no health in us, nor any good thing grow,
for the land is one with the Dragon Reborn, and he one
with the land. Soul of fire, heart of stone, in pride he
conquers, forcing the proud the yield. He calls upon the
mountains to kneel, and the seas to give way, and the very
skies to bow. Pray that the heart of stone remembers tears,
and the soul of fire, love.
--From a much-disputed translation of
The Prophecies of the Dragon by the poet
Kyera Termendal, of Shiota, believed to have
been published between FY 700 and FY 800”
An allusion the Fisher King legends. Many cultures believe that a maimed king could not rule, and that the land’s health was directly tied to that of the king’s. The Fisher King was a king who was wounded (usually through the legs or groin) and his kingdom wasted away until he was healed. The most common version of the legend has the king being wounded with the spear of longinus, of which, Ishamael’s staff in tGH is an analogue. Bad things are happening to the land because bad things are happening to Rand. As long as Rand is maimed, or broken, so shall be the land. When he heals, the land heals, because the Dragon is tied to the land. In the prologue of tEotW, Lews Therin travels to a place where he knows there are no people for miles. How does he know this? Because the Dragon is tied to the land. The second part is a reference to Rand’s rising hubris and the “laughter and tears” theme that becomes a central theme in the series to come.
LoC actually has a longer prologue, but for some reason I still think of aCoS as the start of the classic WoT prologue, or in more technical terms--the WoT "big ass" prologues. These prologues are the size of long Novellas or short Novels, and at the high point, CoT, spanned nearly the first one hundred pages of the book. Though that might be termed, point of greatest excess, depending on your point of view. Sometimes plotlines were set up for later in that book, but more often new plots were introduced and set in motion that would reach fruition, or perhaps not even be mentioned again, for one or two books down the road.
Dumai’s Wells--the end of book six and the start of book seven--seems, in more ways than one, as the definitive midway point of the series. An argument can be made for the end of aCoS as the midpoint, considering the series will end with fourteen books, but Dumai’s Wells is more thematically appropriate. Before the wells there is hope, positive character development, and the Light has, what seem, many apparent victories. Afterwards, Rand sustains, even more massive, psychological damage and begins a downward spiral that will attain its nadir in tGS, but more than that, the series darkens, defeat is everywhere--the Shadow is winning.
“From the tall arched window, close onto eighty spans above the ground, not far below the top of the White Tower, Elaida could see for miles beyond Tar Valon, to the rolling plains and forests that bordered the broad River Erinin, running down from north and west before it divided around the white walls of the great island city. On the ground, long morning shadows must have been dappling the city, but from this prominence all seemed clear and bright. Not even the fabled “topless towers” of Cairhien had truly rivaled the White Tower. Certainly none of Tar Valon’s lesser towers did, for all that men spoke far and wide of them and their vaulting sky-bridges.”
I’m not sure if RJ is narrating or if its some of Elaida’s hubris shining through. With the beautiful, breathtaking view, Aes Sedai and Amyrlin Seats could be forgiven some of their arrogance. Unfortunately, even forgiving some, Elaida still has plenty to spare.
“This high, an almost constant breeze lessened the unnatural heat gripping the world. The Feast of Lights past, snow should have covered the ground deep, yet the weather belonged in the depths of a hard summer. Another sign that the Last Battle approached and the Dark One touched the world, if more were needed.”
The endless summer (started in tSR), more than anything else, has convinced people that the Last Battle is imminent. As previously stated, the characters are starting to believe now that the Last Battle is really here--but of course, it has already started. The first skirmishes, perhaps, started in tEotW, so Tarmon Gai’don doesn’t approach, it doesn’t begin, it is here , and these are the last days.
“Great diggings and foundations spread across what had been the Warders’ practice yard, tall wooden cranes and stacks of cut marble and granite. Masons and laborers swarmed over the workings like ants, and endless streams of wagons trailed through the gates onto the Tower grounds, bringing more stone. To one side stood a wooden “working model” as the masons called it, big enough for men to enter crouching on their heels and see every detail, where every stone should go. Most of the workmen could not read, after all--neither words nor mason’s drawn plans. The “working model” was as large as some manor houses.”
Oh brother. Elaida’s personal palace. If any proof were needed to acknowledge her out of control egomania, this would do it. It’s supposed to have a “great spire” that will reach ten spans (60 feet) higher than the Tower itself. Lunacy. She wanted Ogier stone masons but they refused her, to which she thinks
“Ogier were a triviality. They had no part in the world beyond the cities they had built so long ago and seldom visited now except to make repairs.”
“The ring has been placed in the bull’s nose. I expect a pleasant journey to market.”
Bares a startling resemblance to Moiraine’s code message to Siuan. From Galina--to wit, al’Thor has been captured and none who might support him knows. When Elaida giggles to herself, I giggle to myself too, perhaps more than ever now, considering her eventual fall from grace. Elaida is one of those characters that are “love to hate, love to read.”
“It was madness to allow any man who could channel to run free, but most of all the man prophecy said must face the Dark One in the Last Battle, the Light send that it lay years off yet in spite of the weather. Years would be needed to arrange the world properly, beginning with undoing what al’Thor had done.
Of course, the damage he had wrought was nothing beside what he could have caused, free. Not to mention the possibility that he might have gotten himself killed before he was needed. Well, that troublesome young man would be wrapped in swaddling and kept safe as an infant in his mother’s arms until time to take him to Shayol Ghul. After that, if he survived....
Elaida’s lips pursed. The Prophecies of the Dragon seemed to say he would not, which undeniably would be for the best.”
Elaida is very accomplished at self delusion. She has information, knows things that tell her that the Last Battle is much much closer, but of course, she ignores facts she does not like. Undoing everything Rand has done is a disaster waiting to happen, as some of it as least, is probably the very thing preparing the Pattern for TG. I guess she assumes she’ll just drop him off as the sacrificial lamb at the opportune moment, bask in the glory as the world’s savior and then give him a swift merciful execution should he survive. Though she means well, at least in her mind, she is exactly what the Shadow needs.
Alviarin shows up and immediately starts busting Elaida’s balls, so to speak, the main news being news through the Grey from Ebou Dar concerning Elayne and Nynaeve. I don’t know if t hat means Merilille is being a double agent or if Grey agents in the palace reported it. I would assume Elaida’s decree to capture Elayne would go out too all eyes and ears, after all, there was the forkroot incident in tFoH. I know that Alviarin is evil but I like her--or at least I like reading her. Especially when she’s mind f*cking dearest Elaida.
“The Sanche woman had a hand in that obscenity, or the sun would rise in the west tomorrow. Why could she not simply have crawled away and died, decently out of sight, like other stilled women?
It required effort not to draw a deep breath. Logain could be hanged quietly as soon as the rebels were dealt with, most of the world thought him dead long since. The filthy slander that the Red Ajah had set him up as a false Dragon would die with him. When the rebels were dealt with, the Sanche woman could be made to hand over the keys to the Amyrlin’s eyes and ears. And name the traitors who had helped her escape. A foolish hope to wish that Alviarin would be named among them.”
The nerve of Siuan, not crawling away and dying. And what traitors? You mean, the cook, the commoner and his Lord of lobotomy? I guess its a hanging for Logain. I keep being shocked at the lengths Reds are willing to go, the Laws they are willing to break--but I shouldn’t be, as long as I remember, that male channelers are less than animals, then it all makes sense. Elaida might be on the extreme side of things though. She calls Logain “the unbeliever” twice in tEotW. “The Unbeliever” is a school of thought, where male channelers--they aren’t just forsaken of the Light or declared anathema--they are both, but in addition, they actively reject the Light by choosing the channel. So--defacto darkfriends--torture em, kill em, maim them.
I do love how Alvarin has led Elaida around by the nose, and only just now after Elaida has raged and said the Gray are only passing along rumors and its all ridiculous does she produce the sketches of Elayne and Nynaeve (and Birgitte and Aviendha of course). Oh Elaida, I pity da foo’. (that’s you btw). Elaida thinks of her original foretelling, “the Royal House of Andor held the key to winning the Last Battle.” I think if Elaida merely analyzed her own foretellings or had others work on them, it would be ok, but she makes a snap judgment and then automatically assumes she’s right. Well, makes for entertaining reading, that’s for sure.
“ ‘I want those men rooted out, Alviarin.” There was no need to say who she meant; half the Tower could talk of nothing but those men in their Black Tower, and the other half whispered about them in corners.
“ ‘There are disturbing reports, Mother.” Alviarin looked through her papers once more, but Elaida thought it was only for something to do. She did not puck out any more pages, and if nothing else disturbed the woman for long, this unholy midden outside Caemlyn must.
“More rumors? Do you believe th e tales of thousands flocking to Caemlyn in answer to that obscene amnesty?” Not the least of what al’Thor had done, but hardly cause for worry. Just a pile of filth that must be safely cleared before Elayne was crowned in Caemlyn.
“Of course not Mother, but--”
“Toveine is to lead; this task belongs properly to the Red.” Toveine Gazal ha been fifteen years away from the Tower, until Elaida summoned her back. The other two Red Sitters who had resigned and gone into a “voluntary” retreat at the same time were nervous-eyed women now, but unlike Lirene and Tsutama, Toveine had only hardened in her solitary exile.
“She is to have fifty sisters.” There could not be more than two or three men at this Black Tower actually able to channel, Elaida was certain. Fity sisters could overwhelm them easily. Yet there might be others to deal with. Hangers-on, camp followers, fools full o futile hopes and insane ambitions.
“And she is to take a hundred-no, two hundred--of the Guard."
The Black Tower expedition has to be Elaida's largest blunder by far. It's just abysmally stupid. I can't tell if Alviarin is trying to goad her into this decision or not, I don't think she is--after all she seems to be giving Elaida all the information she would need to perhaps reconsider. Informants have counted supply wagons and calculated at least four-hundred people at the Black Tower, along with rumors of Mazrim Taim. Elaida will have none of it though, Mazrim Taim *has* to be dead and it's four-hundred rabble with perhaps one or two male channelers.
" 'Toviene is to lead fifty sisters and two hundred of the Tower Guards to Caemlyn, to this Black Tower, where they will gentle any man they find able to channel and hang him, along with as many others as they can take alive." Alviarin did not even blink at the violation of Tower Law. Elaida had spoken the truth as she meant it to be; with this, with everything, she [was] Tower law. "For that matter, hang up the dead as well. Let them be a warning to any man who thinks of touching the True Source. Have Toveine attend me. I will want to hear her plan.' "
Seems a bit ruthless, even for Elaida. When the Reds gentled Thom's nephew, Owein, at least they didn't kill him, the whole village, and then string up all the corpses. I guess she has nothing to fear though from her way of thinking, the Black Tower is in Andor, and she means to control Elayne like a puppet, as well, Rand is supposed to be her prisoner in a matter of days, and when she has the Dragon Reborn and it is known he has acknowledged her (whether that's the truth or not) all the other nations will fall in line and no one will mourn the Black Tower. As proof that there can only be a few male channelers, she quotes that they have only found 24 in the last 20 years, however, the chronicles only record 16--the vileness at work, unrecorded gentlings since they were not done in accordance with Tower law.
" ' Though if I may suggest, you might wish to reconsider sending so many sisters away from the Tower. Apparently the rebels found your offer wanting. They are no longer in Salidar. They are on the march. The reports come from Altara, but they must be into Murandy by now. And they have chosen themselves an Amyrlin." She scanned the top sheep of her sheaf of papers as if searching for the name. "Egwene al'Vere, it seems.' "
Maybe Elaida is even more dumb that I thought, Alviarin plays her like a harp. Reaction to the news is somewhat predictable. Egwene was accepted, so Elaida considers it as the rebels blustering for now and offering up their "Amyrlin" as a sacrifice to avoid punishment--or at least, the ultimate punishment. Can't fault Elaida there, it's a reasonable assumption to make and some of the sisters from Salidar might even be thinking that way. Though she does mock Garth Bryne and his army as 'Farmers carrying poikes, butchers with bows and tailors on horseback!' Lead and trained by a Great Captain and most of the senior nco and officer corps from the old Queens Guard of Andor, oh and throw in heavy cavalry trained by Shienarans--the finest heavy cavalry in the world. As big of a disaster as Elaida would be during peacetime, she is even worse during times of conflict, no military acumen whatsoever, or willingness to listen to advisors--a horrible horrible war time Amyrlin.
" 'The White Tower will be whole again, except for remnants cast out and scorned, whole and stronger than ever. Rand al'Thor will face the Amyrlin Seat and know her anger. The Black Tower will be rent in blood and fire, and sisters will walk its grounds. This I Foretell.' "
the biggest foretelling of Elaida's life--at least from the reading point of view, because it gave us a good idea of what to expect, or at least, a lot to theorize about. As usual with Elaida, you can depend on her to interpret in the worst possible way, putting herself in the best possible light--and the reader can almost guarantee that the foretelling will mean something entirely different, after all a cardinal rule of tWoT: if a character is absolutely certain, then they are absolutely dead wrong. Everything has beenf fulfilled save the Black Tower 'rent in fire and blood' by the end of Towers of Midnight. Interesting though, that just because sisters walk the grounds (they already do) does not mean they will be the ones rending it fire and blood--though Elaida immediately makes that interpretation. Well to remember, that events don't have to be mutually inclusive, then can be exclusive of each other. After Dumai's Wells you don't actually expect any of this to turn out like Elaida is hoping, but it was still very cool foreshadowing and something that filled me with trepidation.
"Elaida spun out her plans, enlarging on what Alviarin knew, revealing some that she did not, because at the last an Amyrlin did have to work through her Keeper, however much she hated the woman. There was a pleasure in watching Alviarin's eyes, watching her wonder what else she still did not know. But while Elaida ordered, divided and assigned the world between the Aryth Ocean and the Spine of the World, in her mind frolicked the image of young al'Thor on his way to her like a caged bear, to be taught to dance for his dinner.
The Chronicles could hardly record the years of the Last Battle without mentioning the Dragon Reborn, but she knew that one name would be written larger than all others. Elaida do Avriny a'Roihan, youngest daughter of a minor House in the north of Murandy, would go down in history as the greatest and most powerful Amyrlin Seat of all time. The most powerful woman in the history of the world. The woman who saved humankind."
I feel almost sad for Elaida--she's pitiful, it IS sad. I guess she wants to be the equiv. of the female Dragon, savior of the universe. I really don't understand the thought process. I can understand holding Rand in contempt or hating him, but thinking of him as a triviality accept for when he is taken to Shayol Ghul as a sacrifice seems beyond hubris. But I guess it's all in the vein of not wanting to admit or give credit to a male channeler for anything. She'll be in the histories with Tetsuan and Bonwhin as the third major Red to almost bring destruction on the Tower and to be toppled. Though maybe not that much, maybe just a foot note to the Great Egwene al'Vere. When asked if Suffa will appear in aMoL, Brandon said with a gleam in his eye--RAFO.
Dumai's Wells from Sevanna's point of view is intriguing to say the least. The chronology is wonky when compared with the other point of views from the end of LoC but that is intentional. They all focus around a single even, Rand's chest exploding, so they all have to start BEFORE the event. Thank god for Sevanna's greed and stupidity--she's the reason the Shaido have no screens of scouts and no reserve. If she had not overruled the battle leaders...well, I don't say that the outcome would be completely different, but a lot more "good guys" would have died--Rhuarc, Amys, Gaul, Loail--et cetera. Sevanna really is Elaida's analogue among the Aiel. Even down to her dream of being the most powerful person in the world, to using Rand al'Thor to conquer the world. One last thing--Benji Dalfor--the scout that brought Gawyn word of the Shaido's presence in the last book, was the only forward scout to survive. I really hate Gawyn, but I've got to admit that the Younglings well trained. Not Aiel well trained, and maybe not The Band well trained--though with the Band its more about group tactics and leadership, not as much personal skill--they are consummately well trained for wetlanders.
"Alviarin finally left Elaida's apartments, as cool and collected as ever on the surface. Inside, she felt wrung out like a damp cloth."
Alvy is such a great actress. I'm reminded, now different characters can seem, depending on the view point, and you really don't know ANYTHING until you get a character's personal point of view, and then sometimes, you still don't know--RJ was a tricky devil.
"The only one to ignore her was Danelle, a dreamy Brown sister. She had been part of bringing down Siuan Sanche and raising Elaida, but lost in her own thoughts, a solitary with no friends even in her own Ajah, she seemed unaware that she had been shoved aside."
The artist formerly known as Mesaana. Mesaana's third age persona was a hotly debated topic for a long time. Danelle was the most obvious choice, given clues from the Tower coup onward, but that also meant she was the most suspicious--a possible red herring--though sometimes with RJ, things ARE what they appear to be. He loved making us over analyze things.
"Through the windows she could see the brightness of early afternoon, yet before she was halfway across her sitting room, the light suddenly faded into dim evening. The darkness did not surprise her. She turned and went to her knees immediately. "Great Mistress, I live to serve." A tall woman of dark shadow and silver light stood before her. Mesaana."
Alviarin ruminates on all the other Forsaken...excuse me, Chosen, she's met and thinks that Mesaana is the only one who did not show her true face to her. She can't even feel the ability to channel within Mesaana, which leads her to the conclusion that Mesaana is hiding as someone in the Tower. Alviarin asks Mesaana if Elaida should be killed because of her ability to foretell. Mesaana just laughs and tells her to write out Elaida's orders and allow her to continue to work. It comes out that Elaida is attempting to kidnap the Queen of Saldaea, Faile's cousin Tenobia, and the King of Illian, Mattin Stepaneos, along with crowning High Lord Darlin as King of Tear. Mesaana comments that "You children almost match the [ajah] at times." It's unclear what she means exactly what she means by this but a clue can be gleamed from the Guide. tBWBoBA (the big white book of bad art) states that during the Age of Legends, Aes Sedai were a constantly shifting sea of ajah. An ajah, in the original meaning was a temporary group formed to complete a specific task.
Alviarin thinks back to when she was first made head of the Black Ajah, when Ishamael placed her there, after he murdered her predecessor, Jarna Malari, for initiating a seek and destroy campaign to kill the Dragon Reborn. Jarna has 'squeezed like a bunch of grapes' Tamra Ospenya, the Amyrlin Moiraine served, at the beginning of New Spring. The Black Ajah had no hand in killing her successor, Sierin Vayu, and Alviarin wonders if Elaida had any part in that. Alviarin emboldened slightly asks Mesaana if it's safe to attack the Black Tower with fifty sisters. Mesaana's non answer leads Alviarin to the conclusion that Toviene's Termagants are in some deep sh*t. So she decides to make sure no Black sister is part of the expedition, which is how we know that none of them are playing for the other team--no not THAT team---*that* team. Mesaana gives some slippery eel business about obeying only her and a pupil is not a teacher.
"I will extinguish you."
" 'You have a little strength, child. Not much, but enough."
A weave appeared seemingly from nowhere.
"This," Mesaana chimed, "is called a gateway.' "
This gives some demarcation of power and ability. If you can make a gateway you have at least a little strength, by AoL standards, at least. It's also indicative of some other things you can do, in a sense. Remember, the stronger you are, the faster you learn, the better you can see the flows, the more flows you can handle at once. Egwene thinks that there are only a handful of women in Salidar capable of making a gateway solo, which means there's probably only fifty or so sisters total, that can do it.
"The writing was not that of Varadin, but of Faisar, sent to Tarabon for a different purpose. Niall's stomach twisted into a knot as he read; it was in clear language, not Varadin's Cipher. Varadin's reports had been the work of a man on the brink of madness if not over, yet Faisar confirmed the worst of it and more. Much more. Al'Thor was a rabid beast, a destroyer who must be stopped, but now a second mad animal had appeared, one that might be even more dangerous than the Tar Valon witches with their tame false Dragon. But how under the Light could he fight both?"
Pedron Niall sent Asidim Faisar to Tarabon to gather information in LoC. He'd earlier received a message from Varadin concerning the fall of Tanchico to the Seanchan, but dismissed it as the worst kind of madness. Faisar confirms it all and more in clear, concise language. Really unfortunate that Omerna assassinates Niall a few seconds later. Obviously a plot put up by Eamon Valda and Asunawa, and ill timed indeed--the message gets doused in wine, and so the Seanchan remain undetected.
"He was not certain whether time had slowed for him or everything really did happen so quickly. Boots thudded across the floor, and he lifted his head wearily to see Omerna gaping and wide-eyed, backing away from Eamon Valda. Every bit as much the picture of a Lord Captain as OMerna in his white-and-gold tabard and white undercoat, Valda was not so tall, not so plainly commanding, but the dark man's face was hard, as ever, and he had a sword in his hands, the heron-mark blade he priced so highly.
"Treason!" Valda bellowed, and drove the sword through Omerna's chest.' "
Blademaster. Shocking at the time, but by the end of Towers of Midnight, it seems as though half the named male characters are blademasters. I'm not ashamed to admit that I was a little sad when Niall died. Sure he was a bit misguided and had the nasty habit of trying to assassinate the Dragon Reborn every now and then, but other than that, a fascinating chap. If he had remained alive, I don't have any illusions that he could have withstood the Seanchan, but things might have been slightly different. Amadicia might not have been summarily crushed. Niall is after all, one of the Great Captains. And most of all, anybody is better than Valda, the man is a butcher. I wish someone would drive a sword through his chest. As well wish for an ember burning in dry grass.
Gawyn needs to take some vicodin, maybe some oxycotin and call me in the morning. Well don't all me, call the royal doctor of Andor's nuts or whatever. The dude is diseased and way too stressed. He ruminates that he's perfectly willing, capable, and eager to kill the Dragon Reborn but can't because Egwene asked him not too. Waa waa waa. I can kind of understand. Millions of people think Rand killed Morgase, so why should Gawyn be any different? But the thing is, Gawyn decided to grind an axe against ginger ever since he heard the rumors floating up river about Rand hanging High Lords of Tear. Also this:
"If Min had spoken the truth--he should have made her leave the camp with him, whatever she wanted; there was too much he should have done differently today--if Min was right, and Elayne loved al'Thor, then that dreadful fate was reason enough to kill."
Why? To keep El from sexing up her mum's killer? Keep her away from a man who can channel? The Dragon Reborn? I think Gawyn has just decided he hates Rand no matter what. Someone should whisper in his ear that Rand is Galad's brother--Gawyn's head would explode in a shower of brain matter, tissue, and viscera.
Gawyn sees an Aes Sedai get her horse shot out from under her but before he can find her the Aiel have taken her: Galina. The prologue ends on this cheery thought:
"Turning his bay with a sigh, he rode back down to see what the butcher's bill had been this time. That had been his first real lesson as a soldier. You always had to pay the butcher. He had a feeling there would be bigger bills due soon. The world would forget Dumai's Wells in what was coming."
Carai an Caldazar! Carai an Ellisande! Al Ellisande!