Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Ages of Characters Article Updated

The Ages of the Characters article has been hugely expanded with information from The Wheel of Time Companion on training time for Aes Sedai as well as ages of many characters.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

A Memory of Light Read-Through #7: Chapter 4—Advantages to a Bond

By Linda

Androl POV

The chapter opens with each of the bonded pair confessing to the other. A feature of their double bond is that there can be few secrets between them, as they increase their ability to read each other’s thoughts. Pevara has probably rarely spoken to anyone of how long-time family friends murdered her family. Androl feels her pain and loneliness. She has no loved ones outside the Tower and few friends within it—and no Warder or lover. Her family would be long dead even if they had not been murdered.

Androl’s sympathy for her—or the realisation that she also has sad and painful secrets—leads him to tell of his father being able to channel and suiciding because he was succumbing to the taint. Androl realised that he might be able to channel (although unlike his father, Androl doesn’t have the spark, but could learn) and he went to the Black Tower to find out. This is the information that Pevara went fishing for earlier in A Memory of Light.

Androl can’t accept that someone can be forced to be evil. (Nor does Perrin.) He hates the idea of moral choice being removed from people, because it’s the most important choice. Lanfear says that channellers also have the choice to die or be severed to avoid being Turned, but many don’t do this.

Pevara wishes that she could access the Chair of Remorse at the White Tower to break Dobser, as the independent Sitters did to Talene. However, by understanding Dobser’s psychology, Emarin is able to manipulate him into divulging what they want to know. This impresses Pevara. It is interesting that Emarin proposes building a Grey Tower where both men and women channellers can work together. By the end of the book, the group will be working closely together without any formality.

As part of his act, Emarine speaks patronisingly of Logain. Logain is not a farmer—but a lord, albeit minor. Emarin tells Dobser his true identity and Dobser says that Taim would not like the competition from such a high status Asha’man, and everyone else would fawn on Emarin.

Taim knows that voluntary Darkfriends are more useful than forced ones. He has also taught how to break a tied-off shield. Rand broke one with Lews Therin’s input in Lord of Chaos.

Rand POV

Rand identifies his location as a dreamshard, created by a powerful Dreamwalker—in this case, Ishamael/Moridin. Despite being in danger, he doesn’t exit the dream because his curiosity overrides his caution. He knows that he is not as good as some of the Forsaken with dreams, and this dreamshard has obviously been made by a talented one. Solar characters, such as Rand, Aviendha and Graendal, have less ability with dreams and prophecy, which are lunar skills. Rand is taking a risk. While Moridin shouldn’t have been able to break Rand’s wards without him knowing (and this says danger as much as the dreamshard), he knew that Rand would come to the dreamshard. The implication is that this is because the two men are linked from the crossing of their balefire streams of opposing powers—but Moridin says they have been linked as opposites for Ages. All Ages? Opposites attract as well as contend. As usual, Moridin is very theological/philosophical with Rand.

Rand distracts him by commenting on Mierin. It’s super-effective; Moridin is enraged. Rand himself has mixed feelings about Mierin. In many ways he has left her behind. However, if she is alive, he can hope that Moiraine may come back. This aside is a setup for Merrilor.

Moridin’s world reflects the real world and also Tel’aran’rhiod in being filled with dying lifeforms. Like everyone who turns to the Shadow, he doesn’t create independently. Rand turns this around by doing to the dreamshard what intends to do, was born to do, in the real world—restore health and fertility.

Moridin hoped that Lanfear would distract Rand, though he doesn’t indicate this when Rand says her contact was a waste of time. Instead, he agrees, then attempts to make Rand anxious with hints that Lanfear will attack Aviendha (whom Rand is sleeping beside) even though Lanfear doesn’t have an interest in this anymore. Moridin is trying to press Rand’s buttons but it is not working; Rand doesn’t respond. Moridin correctly says that Lanfear hates and blames Rand for her fate. Her poorly concealed plan is to kill him at Shayol Ghul.

Rand indicates that he used to fear Moridin but not any longer. He wonders aloud if their early dream contacts were in a dreamshard or Moridin invaded his dreams. Moridin says nothing. Rand remembers the horrors of his solo flight to Tear when he was afraid to sleep (which made his mental health more precarious) because he was tormented in his dreams.

Rand can “almost see fires burning” in Moridin’s eyes, which will happen for real if he continues to use the True Power. Perhaps Rand senses that the flame eyes and mouth are not far off. He says that Ishamael was mad and so is Moridin. You have to be mad to serve the Dark One (or he makes you mad—a boss to drive you insane). Moridin dismisses this and says everything will be killed soon. Rand has great empathy now; he can feel Moridin’s desire for death, trapped into eternal service to the Dark One. This is something to make Moridin think later, drive him on. Like Emarin, Rand may have successfully undermined his opponent with knowledge of his psychology.

Moridin may be the first dark champion with enough theological and philosophical understanding to realise the true horror of his predicament and choices—which would add to his madness—fully appreciating how he has damned himself and feeling that he is an eternal tool of Fate. (Faust is a parallel of Moridin, and so is Lucifer in a way, although Lucifer is also a parallel of Lews Therin (see Lews Therin essay). The two men are very similar.) Right and wrong can be a hair’s breadth away: just one poor choice too many, one step too far…

Rand intends to break their eternal contention, which Ishamael has always dwelt upon, gloried in, even though, ironically, the Naeblis is tired to death of it. The Creator’s champion will ignore Moridin and fight the Dark One. He attacks Moridin’s dreamshard with “rightness” which Moridin protests is wrong. At first Moridin compares this with Rand’s miracles which have a mundane explanation. (We see Rand “sing” under his breath to make the Empress’ garden bloom.) Rand also uses empathy too, though, his ability to feel or know what others are feeling—something beyond Moridin:

Rand could feel his shock…”You hate yourself. I can feel it in you.”

A Memory of Light, Advantages of a Bond

The two men are the same height—emphasising that they are evenly matched. Rand is not the tallest person in the mainland, so Moridin could have been taller.

Are Rand’s “miracles”, or Labours always mundane? He does use knowledge and skill to do “impossible” things: he cleansed saidin—which Forsaken thought was impossible. In this case he deduced that the dreamshard would operate in a similar way to Tel’aran’rhiod, and imposed his will accordingly.

Rand declares that he is coming for the Dark One as he restores life to the dreamshard. Moridin protests “This isn’t”…possible, what is supposed to happen…

The Dragon stands beneath a blazing sun—that “dreadful heat of the Light” as described at the Eye of the World—shining in a dark place, and, as at the Eye, he “burns” Moridin. He is the solar character and also exemplifies the power of Rightness. Breaking the conditions of the shard, and alarming Moridin, is a matter of strong will. Rand sighs that it is not so easy in the real world. As he, and we, will see in Merrilor. But sometimes Rand is wrong and needs to be side-stepped.

Moreover, Rand is not an autocrat and should not be one. The power of the Light is in democracy and consensus and many working for the common good. Rand’s major voice of opposition at Merrilor will sacrifice everything for the Light. A third voice—Moiraine—will be the one to unify, or at least reconcile, the opposing parties.

Pevara POV

Pevara is shocked when she sees Asha’man kill—it brings home to her that they are weapons (which they are trained to be). She realises that she needs to shield her private thoughts—a disadvantage of the bond. This is ostensibly the explanation of the chapter title, but it also applies to the Rand/Moridin link. Rand and Moridin have a disadvantage too (one can corrupt the other and find the other). Androl points out that Aes Sedai do kill, because gentling always kills the man—it just is slower. An inconvenient truth for Pevara.

Androl deploys everyone and then figures out how to find the right tunnel in the dark by feeling where the water is flowing. This impresses Pevara, who is assessing him all the time, although Logain’s faction are quite familiar with his judgement and just follow him. Strength in the Power really is not everything. Her main concern is whether Androl has wandered a lot due to boredom or discontent or because he is looking for where he belongs, where he is accepted. He can feel her analysis and leaves it up to her to understand him. They really do well together, considering that they began out of desperation and then fear.

Jonneth has satisfaction of shooting Coteren with the very weapon he derided.

The cells are so small that the prisoner would feel like they are being buried alive. Logain immediately wants to know Pevara’s Ajah. She doesn’t think it matters—and it didn’t. But the roof caves in.