Wednesday, September 26, 2012

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

By Linda


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 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:






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”.