This subsection contains information on and discussion of questions and puzzles related to people and happenings which don't (necessarily) touch directly upon the Shadow.
The "Into the heart" prophecy (see section 4.5) suggested that maybe somebody besides Rand would remove Callandor from the Stone: "Who draws it out shall follow after". In TPOD this did happen, although not in a very dramatic fashion. Narishma went to Tear to retrieve the Sword That Ain't for Rand. Bo-ring. Fortunately for our active imaginations, we still have lots of fodder for Callandor theories.
In [TPOD: 27, The Bargain, 539-540], Cadsuane tells Rand about a flaw in Callandor, which she claims to have discovered in some moldy documents in the Tower Library:
"It is flawed, lacking the buffer that makes other sa'angreal safe to use. And it apparently magnifies the taint, inducing wildness of the mind. So long as a man is using it, anyway. The only safe way for you to use The Sword That Is Not a Sword, the only way to use it without the risk of killing yourself, or trying to do the Light alone knows what insanity, is linked with two women, and one of them guiding the flows."
This not only explains the mess Rand made of things at the end of the Ebou Dar campaign (which was compounded by the Ebou Dar Power Anomaly), but also the megalomania displayed by Rand during and after the attack in the Stone in [TSR: 10, The Stone Stands, 136-138]. What insanity? As John Rowat points out, "He went a little nutso, thought he could raise the dead, and it took him an hour or so to realize that he could just fry all the bad guys at once." Also, it explains a statement by Siuan Sanche in [TDR: 29, A Trap to Spring, 276] in which she refers to a woman wielding Callandor. In particular, she's talking to Ny, and says, "With Callandor in your hands, child, you could level a city at one blow." Previously, that seemed really silly, since Callandor was, as far as we knew, a male-only sa'angreal. However, Cadsuane's statement indicates that Callandor can at least be used by a circle of two women and one man, with a woman controlling the flows (and thus, effectively, wielding the Sword That Ain't). Given that Siuan has made the Dragon Reborn her life's work, it is reasonable to suppose that she may have discovered and read the same moldy documents as Cadsuane.
Now we must ask, why was the thing flawed in the first place? John Novak gives us some ideas:
"Given that it was made in the shape of a sword and seems to have no other real purpose than as a weapon, I think it is safe to say that it was created either during or after the War of Power. In either of these cases, it was probably the result of one serious-assed QRC (Quick Response Contract). That alone will increase the probability that things aren't exactly up to specifications. Further, if it was made after the war, then by definition it was made after the Taint was created by the Dark One. I would hazard a guess that men are needed to make a male-oriented angreal or sa'angreal, so there's another potential reason for it to be screwed up. Hell, for all we know, that was the last attempt ever made at creating a male (sa')angreal."
Looks like Jahar Narishma gets the honors for that one as well. He uses Callandor during the Cleansing in the final chapter of WH. So it appears that he "follows after" as well as "draws it out".
This may well be the fulfillment of Egwene's dream of a dark young man holding something glowing in [ACOS: 10, Unseen Eyes, 203], though the vague wording means we can't be certain.
In Min's studies of the Prophecies of the Dragon [TGS 48: Reading the Commentary], she finds the line "He shall hold a blade of light in his hands, and the three shall be one." A likely candidate for the "blade of light" seems to be Callandor itself, which glows while in use. So what does the rest of it mean?
The Commentaries on the Dragon speculate that the three becoming one refers to the three countries under the direct rule of the Dragon (Cairhien, Tear, Illian), but Min dismisses this as weaksauce. There are other countries that follow Rand and more probably to come before the Last Battle.
Fan speculation has centered around the idea that Callandor is only safe to wield in a circle of two women and one man. Cadsuane theorizes that Rand will link with two women and be able to use Callandor that way. But who? Rand doesn't exactly suffer from a lack of choice with regard to female channelers who would be willing to help him and would be potentially strong enough to handle that much of the Power. Let's run down the likeliest candidates:
Nynaeve: We know Rand trusts her and she has experience in mixed circles channeling massive amounts of the Power from the event at Shadar Logoth. She seems the most likely of any female character to join Rand in this.
Egwene: She's strong enough, to be sure. But with her and Rand on the outs right now, it's unlikely that he'd be able to bring himself to trust her enough to bring her into this circle. It's also unlikely she trusts him enough to accept an invitation, considering that she thinks he's a looney right now.
Moiraine: Possibly strong enough, as she is one of the stronger Aes Sedai that aren't one of the Super Girls. And we know she'll have some sort of role to play in the Last Battle, otherwise it wouldn't make sense to go haring off after her before then.
Cadsuane: Cads seems to know the most about Callandor. She was after all, the one who revealed to Rand the flaw that makes it dangerous in the first place. But after her failure to keep the male a'dam locked away from Semirhage, Rand has exiled her and threatened to kill her if she sees him again. After her continued meddling in the Stone of Tear, it seems very unlikely that Rand will be able to trust her enough to include her in a circle.
Elayne: As one of Rand's three lovers, she's definitely got his trust. However, with her pregnancy impairing her ability to channel reliably, it seems unlikely that she could be included in such a circle.
Aviendha: Avi is strong enough, and has Rand's trust. But one wonders if she can overcome her aversion to swords enough to handle a sword shaped object of the Power?
Alivia: The freed damane is the strongest Lightfriend female channeler. And her experience with offensive weaves could be invaluable if Callandor is to be used in a combat situation. But would Nynaeve and Min allow her to get that close to Rand? Probably not.
Alanna: If Rand's mood improves after his mountain climbing expedition in TGS, could he find it in himself to forgive her for bonding him against his will? If so, his bond with her might become an asset, rather than a liability. It's uncertain if she has the requisite strength to be able to handle a sa'angreal of that magnitude, however.
The "Severed Hand" controversy centers around several of Min's visions. For Elayne, she has seen: 1) A severed hand, not hers [TGH: 24, New Friends and Old Enemies, 305], 2) A red-hot iron and an axe [TGH: 43, A Plan, 511]. For Rand, we have: A bloody hand and a white hot iron [TEOTW: 15, Strangers and Friends, 181]
It seems most likely that these visions were fulfilled in Knife of Dreams, when Rand had his hand blasted off by Semirhage. [KOD 27: A Plain Wooden Box]
RJ said, at a signing, that he deliberately made Rand like Tew, the Norse god of strife, who lost a hand.
[Erica Sadun, Sean Hillyard, Pam Korda, Leigh Butler]
The Aelfinn and Eelfinn (henceforth referred to as "the Finn") are strange tricksy critters who live in other dimensions. They are also known as the Snakes and Foxes, because of their appearances, and have long-standing tricksy relationships with humans: giving gifts and answers... at a price.
Most of what we know about the Finn is from TSR. There is also a little bit in the Guide, and scant but telling information is gained in WH.
[TSR: 6, Doorways, 95] and [TSR: 15, Into the Doorway, 174-180]:
[TSR: 24, Rhuidean, 278-282] and [TSR: 26, The Dedicated, 306-307]:
[TSR: 28, To the Tower of Ghenjei, 323-324]:
[Guide: 3, The Age of Legends, 33]:
[WH: 31, What the Aelfinn Said, 588] and [WH: 35, With The Choedan Kal, 649]:
Cyndane's info, in particular, has sparked speculation on how exactly this coexistence works. Perhaps the game of Snakes and Foxes that Mat and Olver play may yield a clue as to how Aelfinnland and Eelfinnland are linked.
From [LOC: 33, Courage to Strengthen, 456], the game board is described as "a piece of red cloth with the web of lines drawn in black ink, and arrows showing which lines allowed movement only one way and which both." Sketchy, but the phrase "the web of lines" implies that the pattern may be like an actual web - straight spokes overlaid with either concentric circles or a spiral.
Interesting, since the architecture of the Snakes' domain is described as all curves and spirals [TSR: 15, Into the Doorway, 174-176], and everything in Foxland is sharp straight angles and polygons; the most often-recurring shape in the Foxy architecture is an eight-pointed star [TSR: 24, Rhuidean, 279-281]. Perhaps something like the spokes of a web with the circles taken away?
Given all this, Gabriel Wright theorizes that perhaps the game played in the real world actually accurately depicts Finnland; the Aelfinn (Snakes) live in the spiral part of the web, while the Eelfinn (Foxes) live on the spokes. Separate, but linked. There's definitely a certain elegance to the idea.
Mr. Wright also observes that there may be a link between the "snaring" purpose of the snake and fox tokens in the game and Birgitte's warning to Perrin about entering Finnland through the Tower of Ghenjei. Perhaps people coming in illegitimately (i.e., not through the twisted doorways) free the Finn from their age-old treaty, making the intruders fair game for capture?
As additional food for thought on the composition of Finnland: there are windows to whatever passes for outside in Finnland in the Snaky place (which is where Mat sees the three curved silvery spires over and over). However, the only openings in Foxland are to the inside, showing the chamber Mat entered from over and over again.
In that vein, Paul Ward received a letter from RJ in March 2000 in which RJ said (answering a question about why the Fox doorway melted in TFOH): "When Moiraine and Lanfear went through the ter'angreal, it burned in part because both were channeling, and the world on the other side of the doorway has a radically different set of natural laws. The odd optical effects witnessed in that other world are not artificially produced artifacts."
Interesting. It does make a certain amount of sense, as John Novak points out, that Finnland must have "a radically different geometry, which is definitely sufficient to produce the optical effects seen, [and that this would also] screw up what seems to be a geometrically based system of magic - weaves must almost certainly depend on geometry, from the way they're described."
This does raise the question of how Rand managed to not only channel in Snakeland, but actually step from one world to another while holding the weave. Without knowing more about how exactly the physics of Finnland differs from Randland's, the best explanation anyone can come up with to explain this is that at that point in the series, Rand hadn't had any real training in wielding the OP; he was doing everything by instinct. So he did what felt right in the real world, and did what felt right in Finnland. As for stepping from one reality to another... One other suggestion is that perhaps the fact that Rand was wielding Fire had something to do with why the Finnland physics didn't screw him up, since they are vulnerable to fire.
And on that note, isn't it remarkable that Aludra - and her matches - are now travelling with Mat and Thom? Just in time for a rescue, perhaps? [Erica Sadun]
During a ride with Tuon, Mat becomes overwhelmed with the memories of another time and begins to speculate on how these memories were collected in the first place. [KOD 8: Dragon Eggs]
Maybe they created some sort of link to any human that visited them, a link that allowed them to copy all of a man's memories after that right up to the moment he died. In some of those memories from other men, he was white=haired, in some only a few years older than he really was, and everything in between, but there were none of childhood or growing up.
Later on his comments make it seem as if he believes the Finns might be seeing events through his eyes as he experiences them. Might this be the reason for Egwene's Dream of "Mat throwing dice with blood streaming down his face, the wide brim of his hat pulled low so she could not see his wound, while Thom Merrilin put his hand into a fire to draw out the small blue stone that now dangled on Moiraine's forehead." If the second part represents Thom rescuing Moraine from Finnland, then what does the first part mean? It's been speculated by many that Mat may try to gain advantage over the Finns by putting out one of his eyes.
The Aes Sedai, both collectively and individually, never seem to lack for funds. Where do they get the money?
Individual sisters are given a yearly allowance of one thousand crowns in gold, which is comparable to the income of a very succesful merchant or a minor noble. More can requested, but it is subject to the review of the Hall. [NS 13: Business in the City] Additionally, newly raised sisters are usually made a gift of modest (by Aes Sedai standards) clothing and furnishings for their quarters. [NS 12: Entering Home] Sisters like Moiraine who come from a noble background might have their own estates they can draw income from as well.
The Tower itself obtains income from several sources:
[Richard Boye, revised by James Luckman]
First noticed by Siuan amongst the Rebels in [TPOD: 16, Unexpected Absences, 341], and by Seaine within the Tower in [COT: Prologue, Glimmers of the Pattern, 51], the Too-Young Sitter Conspiracy was a plan enacted by the Ajah Head's during the early days after Siuan Sanche was deposed.
It had seemed like a brilliant plan. The division of the Tower, the departure of so many in rebellion and the raising of a new Amyrlin, had not been their fault. But it had presented several opportunities. The first had been the easiest to take hold of: send Sitters to the rebels to steer them and hasten a reconciliation. The most youthful of Sitters had been chosen, their replacements in the Tower intended to serve only a short time. The Ajah heads had been certain this ripple of a rebellion could be easily smoothed over.
They hadn't taken it seriously enough. That had been their first mistake. The second was more dire. There were indeed times in the past where the Ajah heads—not the Amyrlin Seat or the Hall of the Tower— had led the Aes Sedai. It had been done secretly, of course, but it had been very successful. Why, the reign of Cemaile Sorenthaine would have been a complete disaster if the Ajah heads hadn't stepped in. [tGS; 43, Sealed to the Flame]
Essentially the conspiracy involved filling the Hall with Sitters who were too young for the position, enabling the Ajah Heads to establish themselves as defacto rulers of the Tower. The long-term intention was that the Rebels would be brought back in under Elaida, the too-young sitters would stand aside for their mature rebel counter-parts, and the Ajah Heads (who by that time would have secured control) would lead the reunited Tower through TG.
How Was The Conspiracy Set Up?
Within the Tower the Ajah Heads enacted this plan themselves--forcing in either sitters who were too young, or taking the position themselves. Amongst the Rebels the plan was enacted by five pre-schism Sitters: Varilin, Takima, Magla, Faiselle and Saroiya. These Sitters were sent by the Ajah Heads to force the raising of too-young sitters, and ultimately lead the Rebels back to the Tower.
The Footdragging Five
It can be noted that these five frequently opposed decisions that would lead to further distance between the two groups, and agree with decisions that supported reunification, which led to them being named by the fandom The Footdragging Five. They opposed the declaration of war in [TPOD: 19, The Law, 382-389], and similarly the decision for an alliance with the Black Tower in [COT: 19, Surprises, 471-473], undoubtedly because such an alliance would make reunification under Elaida more difficult.
And though Jesse Belial states that "some of the Sitters they had sent had begun siding with the rebels more than the White Tower!" it cannot be doubted that their original intention, and the one under which they did most their work, was reunification under Elaida--those five took control of the negotiations with Elaida, and in [KoD; 23, Call to a Sitting] Romanda notes:
"...all of them almost seemed to be negotiating for Elaida. Well, perhaps it was not that bad. They held fast against the woman's ridiculous demand that the Blue Ajah be dissolved and argued, if not nearly with sufficient force, for Elaida stepping down, but if she-and Lelaine, she was forced to admit-did not stiffen their backbones now and then, they might well accede to some of Elaida's other odious conditions"
The Oddball, Janya
Though Janya was also a Sitter prior to the schism, she seems to have had no part in the Conspiracy. She never takes any of the stances the others do, and seems genuine about her commitment to the Rebels.
How This Will Help
Though the plan was an unmitigated failure, as the Ajah Heads themselves state in tGS, it will allow for a smooth reunification of the Halls under Egwene. Essentially the too-young sitters will be displaced with a limited ruffling of feathers, something less possible had all the sitters been normal candidates for sitter-hood.
The Pre-Unification Disposition of the Halls
* denotes a rebel.
Red = 3 normal (Pevara, Duhara and Javindhra), no abnormal.
Blue = 3 normal (Lelaine*, Moria* and Lyrelle*), no abnormal.
Yellow = 4 normal (Romanda*, Magla*, Doesine, Sedore), 2 abnormal (Salita* and Suana).
White = 3 normal (Saroiya*, Seaine and Valina), 3 abnormal (Aledrin*, Berana* and Ferane).
Gray = 3 normal (Varilin*, Yukiri and an unamed Sitter from the tower), 3 abnormal (Delana*, Kwamesa* and Andaya).
Green = 3 normal (Faiselle*, Talene, Rubinde), 3 abnormal (Malind*, Semalin* and Rina)
Brown = 4 normal (Jenya*, Takima*, Shevan and Saerin), 2 abnormal (Escarlde* and Juilaine).
A Glimpse at What the Post-Unification Hall May Look Like
Red = Pevara and Javindhra. (Duhara was ousted as Black. No idea who will replace her).
Blue = Lelaine and Lyrelle. (Moria was ousted as Black. No idea who will replace her).
Yellow = Romanda, Magla and Doesine. (Sedore was ousted as Black. No idea who will replace her).
White = Saroiya and Seaine. (Valina was ousted as Black. No idea who will replace her).
Gray = Varilin, Naroisa and Yukiri. (It remains uncertain whether Naroisa, raised to fill Delana's place, is Too-Young)
Green = Faiselle and Rubinde. (Talene was ousted as Black. No idea who will replace her).
Brown = Janya, Takima, Shevan and Saerin.
It's possible that some of the Too-Young Sitters will retain their places given those that were supposed to supplant them after unification turned out Black. The Brown, which has four viable Sitters, is somewhat problematic. It's stated that Shevan was being groomed to replace Saerin, but I suspect that's unlikely now. The highest chance is that Shevan will step down until her time comes.
This article was originally published at the 13th Depository. It has been republished here with permission from the author.
This article looks at all the military forces on the mainland. These forces are mostly armies: only two nations have naval forces and only one has any air capability (and that mostly scouting and troop deployment). However, the ability of some armies to deploy troops by gateway is a more than adequate alternative to an air force.
There are currently five great generals with the mainland armies: Davram Bashere, Gareth Bryne, Mat Cauthon, Rodel Ituralde and Agelmar Jagad. Six, if you count Demandred, the leading general for the Shadow.
The military forces in the Mainland are currently divided into forces allied to the Dragon Reborn, Seanchan, and Borderland nations. The only significant unallied armies are those of the White Tower, and Murandy.
Many of the armies are, or have been until recently, uselessly locked in combat with each other, rather than uniting against the Shadow. This is no doubt a result of the Shadow’s tactics.
Rand could field about nine hundred thousand soldiers all told.
The seven clans Rand had with him before Cairhien, combined with the four Clans that joined him later initially added up to around four hundred and eighty thousand spears, but casualties—in Cairhien and in Illian—and the bleakness have reduced their numbers. Speculation: four hundred and twenty thousand Aiel are still under Rand’s command.
The Aiel are lead by their Clan Chiefs, who are for the most part hardened warriors who are good generals. Aiel warriors themselves are without equal and their Wise Ones will no doubt take part in the fight against the Shadow, providing the Aiel armies with at least a couple of thousand channelers.
Rand’s “Allied” Nations:
These nations are connected to Rand by various means.
Traditionally Tear’s army is made up of the Defenders of the Stone and the nobles’ armsmen. Tear’s Lords use cavalry most often and despise foot. The Defenders of the Stone are the standard military body of Tear. They are all cavalrymen wearing a black and gold uniform, and their commander is Captain of the Stone Rodrivar Tihera, a minor noble. In The Gathering Storm, before the Stone of Tear, King Darlin and all of Tear’s remaining High Lords and High Ladies, except High Lady Fionnda, were gathered in Tear with a massive army of Tairens and foreigners. Rand told them they will be marching to Shayol Ghul. The sum of Tear’s armies—nobles’ armsmen, Defenders and sell-swords—should reach ninety thousand men, not including Darlin's new recruits.
An army comprising armsmen from many houses led by Semaradrid, was in Illian as of Knife of Dreams. Some of the remainder of Cairhien’s forces were sent to Arad Doman with Dobraine to restore order. At least five hundred of these were camped in Bandar Eban in The Gathering Storm, Into Bandar Eban. Dobraine and his forces are now in Tear ( The Gathering Storm, Before the Stone ofTear).
Speculation: Considering the devastation cause by the Civil War, famine, Tear’s occupation, and the Shaido’s invasion, Cairhien might be able to field as many as twenty thousand soldiers.
Illian’s army is composed of the Companions—who are the Kings’ elite forces—along with nobles and the common army. The army has traditionally been led by the King, but Rand might place a new general over them in the future. The Companions are Illian’s equivalent to the Defenders, but their loyalty is to the King. They wear a green and yellow uniform and are led by First Captain Demetre Marcolin.
During Crossroads Of Twilight , A Chat with Siuan, we hear about the increasing forces being gathered by Lord Gregorin, the Steward of Illian, to face the Seanchan. Gregorin must have recalled the forces Rand scattered around Illian during Path of Daggers , since the Tairen nobles and soldiers among those forces returned to Tear. Speculation: Lord Gregorian will not be able to raise an army as large as Sammael’s, but Illian should be able to raise an army of eighty thousand.
The Queen and her forces (almost a thousand lancers) have not yet arrived back in Ghealdan. Ghealdan itself was badly affected by the Prophet and his Dragonsworn and the condition of its armsmen unknown.
The heart of Andor’s army is the Queen’s Guard, but Rahvin’s creation of the White Lion and decimation of those loyal to Morgase greatly weakened this unit. However, as we saw in Knife of Dreams, many of the old Queen’s Guard soldier loyal to Trakand and Andor are on their way to Caemlyn. Andor’s current Captain General is the legendary Hero of the Horn Birgitte Silver Bow. Gawyn Trakand, First Prince of the Sword, will probably be prevented by events from returning to Andor. However, Matrim Cauthon and his army have Travelled there.
The state of the Succession and the siege of Caemlyn triggered most Andoran houses into mobilizing their forces, thus leading to a highly militarized state. Therefore Elayne’s success in claiming the throne has in effect unified most of Andor’s strength, and the army is prepared for action.
Before the major battle for Caemlyn, Elayne had slightly over twenty thousand men in Caemlyn (Queen’s Guard included) ( Knife of Dreams, To Keep the Bargain and Nine Out of Ten). Yet this was far from all the strength her house and those of her five supporters could lend her; the siege had kept many of her people away from the city. On the other hand, now that the siege is over the rest of her supporters will be free to join her, thus we could expect to see a noticeable increase in size of her original supporter’s forces. Speculation: final numbers for the first six houses to support her should reach over forty thousand, in addition to near ten thousand Queen’s Guards and mercenary companies.
Arathelle, Luan, Abelle, Aemlyn, Pelivar, and Ellorien have close to sixty thousand men between them—although many of these will be drafted village folk who are under trained, inexperienced and lack proper arms and armor (Knife of Dreams, A Bronze Bear, The Importance of Dyelin). Of these six, five are pledged to support Elayne and Ellorien has pledged to send her troops to the Last Battle with the other Andoran troops (Knife of Dreams,The Importance of Dyelin). Lir, Karind, and Sylvase should have fifteen or twenty thousand men left (considering casualties and those taken by Jarid). Arymilla’s, Naean’s and Elenia/Jarid’s forces are currently reduced and unreliable; although Elayne’s coronation should put an end to the fighting.
On a good day Andor could field up to one hundred and thirty to a hundred and fifty thousand men—Queen’s Guard, mercenaries, and noble’s armsmen, and regular draftees many of whom will be elderly or inexperienced and half trained. In Knife of Dreams, The Importance of Dyelin, Elayne said that if they gathered all of Andor’s strength (not all of which are pledged to Elayne yet) they could nearly match the Borderlanders’ numbers (two hundred thousand) but two thirds of their forces would be under-trained.
There are about one hundred and twenty five channellers helping Elayne and none bound by the Three Oaths (Knife of Dreams, House on Full Moon Street).
Saldean Light Cavalry
Lord Bashere, one of the best generals in the land, leads eight thousand light cavalry from Saldaea. These men are all superb horsemen, armed with serpentine swords and light armor (Lord Of Chaos, Connecting Lines and A Crown Of Swords, A Crown Of Swords). Bashere’s army is now in Tear (The Gathering Storm, Before the Stone of Tear).
The Legion of the Dragon
The Legion consists of men who wish to follow the Dragon Reborn. They are based on Mat’s ideas, and each man is armed with a steel-armed crossbow and a short-sword. They wear blue coats with the dragon on the breast and wear their breastplate under the coat (The Path Of Daggers,Answering The Summons). They were camped twenty miles west of Caemlyn; it is uncertain if they have moved from there or not.
A few months have passed since recruiting for the Legion started, and their method has been very successful. At the end of A Crown of Swords, we saw fifteen thousand Legion-men armed and trained, and this was in the first month only. The Legion is still inexperienced, but they seem very well trained. Speculation: Their current number should be over seventy thousand soldiers, though many would be new and need weeks of training.
The Band of the Red Hand
The Band is a military group that started after the battle for Cairhien in The Fires Of Heaven, and is led by Mat Cauthon, who is arguably the best general there is. The Band’s original members were from Cairhien and Tear, though they recruited soldiers from Andor, Altara and Murandy ( Lord Of Chaos, A Different Dance, A Crown Of Swords A Morning of Victory). The Band is formed around standard military arrangements set by Mat, according to his memories.
Currently they are in two sections. Seven thousand are with Mat in Caemlyn (The Gathering Storm, On A Broken Road and The One He Lost), where Mat aims to organise the building of Aludra’s dragons and the development of a new crossbow crank that does not require lowering and raising the crossbow when loading (The Gathering Storm, Legends). This group was comprised of three banners of horse and four thousand mounted crossbowmen. They had lost four hundred crossbowmen and five hundred cavalry before their last battle in Altara (Knife of Dreams, Prince of the Ravens) and recruited some Altarans (not many, since the banners with Mat are still under strength) who were fighting the Seanchan. The other section, lead by Estean and Daerid, comprised of three banners of horse, five banners of foot and the Mason’s Banner, is moving north out of Murandy and into Andor (Knife of Dreams, Attending Elaida). According to The World of Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time, each banner of horse contains fifteen hundred men and each banner of infantry three thousand, placing the Band’s overall size at over thirty thousand men.
It consists of three to four thousand Two Rivers bowmen (Knife of Dreams, The Last Knot), close to nine hundred Mayener Winged Guards (The Path of Daggers, A Simple Country Woman), and close to a thousand Ghealdan Lancers (Winter’s Heart, The Scent of Madness). There were some Aiel Maidens, six Wise Ones, three Aes Sedai, and two Asha’man with Perrin. At least some of the Aiel with Perrin apparently left this group to join the clans in Arad Doman (and are probably now in Tear). A hundred thousand refugees are also with Perrin.
Galad and his forces have met up with Perrin (The Gathering Storm, A Promise to Lews Therin) and may have joined him. In The Gathering Storm, Scents Unknown, Perrin was camped near the Jehennah Road.
There used to be close to twenty thousand vagabonds armed with a variety of weapons ( Knife of Dreams, The Last Knot) in the Prophet’s Army, but the battle with the Shaido reduced their numbers considerably: According to Tylee:
“Masema’s men held to the point of suicide—most of them are dead or dying…”
- Knife of Dreams, Outside the Gates
Masema left with less than one hundred of his bodyguard and they were all killed by Faile and her group (The Gathering Storm, Prologue).
There must be over seven hundred Asha’man enrolled in the Black Tower by now. While some of the men are located in the Black Tower, south of Caemlyn, more than half of the men in the Black Tower were moved to Arad Doman and Illian, including all the Asha’man with bonded Aes Sedai (Knife of Dreams, News for the Dragon) and less than a dozen with Rand (Knife of Dreams, The Golden Crane). One hundred of these Asha’man were assigned to Ituralde in Saldaea.
Some of the Asha’man are loyal to Logain. Taim also has his own faction. The one hundred men who attend his private classes are certainly his, and are probably all Darkfriends. Some Soldiers and Dedicated would also feel loyal to the M’Hael—although Taim’s harsh behaviour is unlikely to make him very popular. A large portion of the Soldiers and Dedicated do not have any specific loyalty, and we could not assume that they would obey Rand over Taim (or the reverse).
Most of the Sea Folk are gathered in Tear and Illian, including those who escaped Ebou Dar because of Mat, and the twelve Clan Mistresses gathered to name Zaida as the new Mistress of the Ships. We don’t have any numerical estimates, but they are using some Seanchan ships to make up for their losses.
During A Crown of Swords and The Path of Daggers, the Sea Folk made a Bargain with Rand, whom they formally acknowledge as their Coramoor. The Sea Folk promise such ships as the Dragon Reborn needs, to sail when and where he needs them, for whatever purposes he requires. In return, the Dragon Reborn will not change any laws of the Sea Folk and will give to the Sea Folk a square mile of land to be subject to Sea Folk law at every city on navigable water that he controls or comes to control. The Dragon Reborn will keep an ambassador chosen by the Sea Folk with him at all times. She will be accompanied by her Windfinder, Swordmaster and retinue. Furthermore the Dragon Reborn will go promptly to a summons from the Mistress of the Ships, but not more than twice in any three consecutive years and the Mistress of the Ships must be prepared to attend Rand up to three times in any two years (Knife of Dreams, To Make An Anchor Weep).
In Knife of Dreams, To Make An Anchor Weep, Rand finally called upon this Bargain. Almost all of the Sea Folks larger ships have been sailing from Tear and Illian to Bandar Eban to take supplies for the populace and Rand’s armies there and have been harassed by Seanchan ships along the way (The Gathering Storm,A Tale of Blood).
The consequence of many Windfinders being taken in Ebou Dar is that many of them are now trained for battle. Knowledge, such as linking and Travelling, gained from Aes Sedai will also be invaluable to them.
In A Crown Of Swords, Deceptive Appearances, we learned that all four Borderland rulers had come south and brought their armies along. Tenobia said that she has close to fifty thousand men behind her, and it is possible that each ruler brought just as many soldiers south. Merilille Sedai believes their numbers to be over two hundred thousand (Winter’s Heart, Expectations) and Birgitte speaks of two hundred thousand soldiers (Crossroads of Twilight, What Wise Ones Know). These are all hardened men with experience fighting Trollocs along the Blight Border.
Shienar’s army, the most heavily armored, is led by Lord Agelmar Jagad, one of the best generals in the land. Lord Baldhere is the general for Kandor; he is a good captain and has had that position ever since Ethenielle’s husband was killed at the end of New Spring. Ishigari Terasian is the general for Arafel. Saldea’s forces in the Borderland army are currently lead by Kalyan Ramsin, one of Tenobia’s uncles. Saldean are famous for their light cavalry.
There are also thirteen Aes Sedai accompanying this army, five with Tenobia and eight with Paitar (The Path of Daggers, Prologue).
The army is currently in Far Madding (The Gathering Storm,Scents Unknown). Rand told Hurin to tell the Borderlander rulers that he will soon ride to battle at Shayol Ghul and offers them transport back to the Blight. Otherwise they will be nowhere near their posts when the Last Battle begins.
The Golden Crane:
Lan has “undertaken” a long journey travelling the entire width of the Borderlands, and Nynaeve contacted prominent Malkieri to ensure men will join him on his journey to the Last Battle. It is likely that there are many men who would join Lan even if they are not from Malkier
In The Gathering Storm, Nynaeve told Rand that Lan would reach Tarwin’s Gap in two or three more months.
Remaining Borderlander armies
We don’t know how many experienced warriors were left to guard the borders: Alesune, King Easar’s shatayan, said ”We have left the Blight all but unguarded,” while Queen Ethenielle said “What I’ve left behind can guard the Blight short of the Trolloc Wars coming again” (The Path of Daggers, Prologue). It is these men who will hear Lan’s call to ride with the Golden Crane for Tarwin’s Gap.
Every Borderman will take up arms once the Last Battle is there—they have no other choice. Some have begun to move north in anticipation (The Gathering Storm, Prologue). A large portion of men in these nations have some experience fighting raids, and once the Trollocs come they must kill or be killed.
Seanchan Mainland Army
It is very difficult to estimate the overall size of the Seanchan military machine. First, we do not know how many Seanchan soldiers came across the ocean with the Forerunners or the Return. Secondly, they have recruited many soldiers from Tarabon, Amadicia and Altara. The Seanchan found it easy to conquer these nations because the neighbouring nations didn’t give any aid (The Gathering Storm, Gambits).
However, a few things have changed. First the Return will receive no further reinforcements from their motherland thanks to Semirhage. That place is in complete disarray. Secondly, they have very little ground left for recruiting local forces. They have spent over a year recruiting in Tarabon and Amadicia and are unlikely to enlist many more men from those nations. Furthermore, the rebel Aes Sedai army and the Band of the Red Hand enlisted what was available in central and northern Altara some time ago.
At the same time Ituralde’s campaign in Tarabon and Mat’s one week escapade in northern Altara has made the Seanchan wary of sudden and unexpected attacks. They do not fully trust the locals either (Knife of Dreams, Epilogue). Thus, they need to leave a lot of relatively large local garrisons to ensure continued control of the lands they have conquered. These camps and patrols have no value in offensive military action. They are bound to the land and immobile; if the Seanchan become desperate enough to use them, then they are already finished. Speculation: the Seanchan could have over a hundred thousand men spread out over their lands in this fashion.
The Seanchan’s known and mobile armies are as follows: One hundred thousand in northern Altara; they are meant to guard against Andor and Murandy (Knife of Dreams, Under an Oak). Turan’s army of nearly three hundred thousand (Ituralde’s estimate, The Gathering Storm, When Iron Melts) was shattered in Arad Doman, and many, including Turan himself, killed, but Turan’s replacement is marshalling more than three hundred thousand men and two hundred damane (The Gathering Storm, The Last of the Tabac). The army gathering close to Illian must also have well over one hundred thousand men.
In addition, there are a few smaller armies hunting for Aiel—between ten or fifteen thousand men in each. Additionally there are sizable military camps near the major Seanchan-held cities.
We also know that Ebou Dar hosts five hundred of the most fearsome Seanchan warriors: the Deathwatch Guard:
Hard-faced men, they and five hundred more like them had been charged personally with Tuon's safety.
- Winter’s Heart, What A Veil Hides
and a hundred Ogier Gardeners (Winter’s Heart, An Offer). Prior to the Sea Folk damane being freed at the end of Winter’s Heart, Ebou Dar was home to at least two hundred damane (Winter’s Heart, News in a Cloth Sack). Of course the overall number of damane is much higher given that there are damane guards in every city, and each army and major outpost has their own damane. In addition, Tylee captured more than two hundred Shaido Wise Ones in Knife of Dreams, Outside the Gates. The Seanchan raid on the White Tower using at least eighty to a hundred raken and to’raken, two hundred soldiers and fifty sul’dam/damane pairs (The Gathering Storm, The Death of Tuon), gained nearly forty new damane (including an obnoxious Foreteller) and knowledge of Travelling. However at least ten damane were captured, and therefore at least ten sul’dam were killed, along with thirty raken and/or to’raken (The Gathering Storm,
A Fount of Power) and an unknown number of soldiers and damane. It is likely the Seanchan will soon work out how to use Aes Sedai damane as weapons by making them fear for their lives (The Gathering Storm, Gambits).
Seanchan Naval Capabilities
The Seanchan have hundreds of greatships equipped for long distance sailing in Ebou Dar alone and four times as many again in Tanchico (Winter’s Heart, What A Veil Hides). With their numbers,damane and the element of surprise, they have been able to secure naval superiority in the Aryth Ocean and establish naval bases at Cantorin, Tanchico and Ebou Dar. They have done considerable damage to the Sea Folk and hold the Aile Somera in the west.
The Seanchan have Fists of Heaven – short, lightly armoured male and female soldiers as hard as the Deathwatch guard. They carry crossbows and wear brown breastplates and painted insect-like helmets (The Path of Daggers, Threads). The Fists of Heaven are dropped close to the front, or behind enemy lines, by to’raken, large flying lizards able to carry burdens. Over short distances, to’raken can carry twelve people besides their fliers. These people may be Fists of Heaven or sul’dam and damane.
Morat’raken are scouts that ride the smaller raken two per beast and fly back to base to deliver written reports on the wing.
These are the last unallied forces in the Mainland.
The Aes Sedai Armies:
Tar Valon’s military force is the Tower Guard, and it is led by High Captain Jimar Chubain. Elaida ordered their number to be raised to fifty thousand during A Crown Of Swords, and men were going into the city via ships to join the army during Crossroads Of Twilight, but their current number can only be guessed at. Gareth Bryne estimated that the Tower Guard lost hundreds in the Seanchan raid, but not thousands (The Gathering Storm,The Tower Stands). The Tower Guards have organized ranks and are led according to standard military methods; their captains are chosen according to experience and knowledge rather than being lords.
The rebel Aes Sedai’s Army
Led by Gareth Bryne, former Captain General of the Andor’s Queen’s Guards and one of the best generals in the land, is also now in Tar Valon. The army was over fifty thousand strong in The Gathering Storm, Tears From Steel, and includes a variety of soldiers, from Shienarin-style heavy cavalry to light cavalry ( The Path Of Daggers, Out on the Ice) and infantry. Bryne may be made overall Commander of both armies, with a captain, perhaps Gawyn Trakand, appointed to lead the former rebel army.
Allowing for losses to the Seanchan and the purging of the Black Ajah, there are at most two hundred and twenty Aes Sedai in the re-united White Tower, with the former rebels greatly out-numbering those who stayed in the Tower. There are also an unknown number of Accepted and well over one thousand novices, some of whom are quite strong and not bound by the Three Oaths.
The Younglings, formerly led by Gawyn Trakand, number over three hundred and are in Dorlan on the east bank of the Erinin, although they may be recalled now that Egwene is Amyrlin. However, the Black Ajah may get to them first and lead them elsewhere with phoney orders.
Children of the Light:
There are about seven thousand well trained regular cavalry men and ten Lord Captains led by Lord Captain Commander Galad Damodred. The Children were originally housed in Amador, capital of Amadicia, but they lost their base, the Fortress of the Light, to the Seanchan invasion. They met up with Perrin’s forces (The Gathering Storm, A Promise to Lews Therin) and may be moving with Perrin on the Jehennah Road. A few thousand Children, including Asunawa and the Questioners, remain with the Seanchan (Knife of Dreams, Prologue).
Recently King Roedran has worked hard on uniting the Murandian forces by paying Talmanes and the Band of the Red Hand to stay in Murandy and appear a threat. According to Talmanes Roedran considered the venture successful (Knife of Dreams, Attending Elaida). Talmanes also stated that Roedran had been ready to turn on the Band, which means that Murandy’s army must have been large enough to be a danger to the Band’s thirty thousand men. Speculation: Murandy’s army must have at least thirty five thousand men.
We have been told that Roedran has been reading up on the Art of Warfare and now fancies himself as a general.
This nation’s permanent army, Arad Doman’s equivalent to the Queen’s Guard or the Defenders, is lead by the great captain Rodel Ituralde and had about ten to fifteen thousand soldiers. In Crossroads of Twilight, Glimmers, Ituralde made a pact with the Dragonsworn of Arad Doman and Tarabon, leading as many as twenty thousand men south to raid the Seanchan and draw them north (Knife of Dreams, Prologue). At the same time he had sent messages to the nation’s nobility ordering them to position themselves for a trap:
“Once again he reviewed the orders he had sent, carried by the fastest riders he had, to every noble loyal to the King… They would even hide in the mountains and wait, at his orders.”
- Crossroads of Twilight, Glimmers of the Pattern.
As we saw in Knife of Dreams, Embers Falling on Dry Grass and the Epilogue, Ituralde’s raid and trap were an expensive success. His force of one hundred thousand shattered the Seanchan army but suffered fifty percent losses. (The two hundred thousand ‘soldiers’ behind Turan were women, youths and farmers ( The Gathering Storm, When Iron Melts)).
Rand promised to keep the Seanchan out of Arad Doman if Ituralde and his force of fifty thousand would go to the Borderlands to protect it against a Trolloc invasion (The Gathering Storm, The Last of the Tabac). He assigned one hundred Asha’man to Ituralde to aid him. So far Ituralde has had only skirmishes with Trollocs (The Gathering Storm,Before the Stone of Tear).
The Shadio have taken great losses. We have not heard any recent news of Aiel raids in Murandy or Illian, which means the clans left in Illian have successfully put an end to Shaido in that area. A few Shaido septs were scattered on the Almoth Plain, but various forces there may take care of them as well.
The Seanchan managed to clear the Shaido out of Tarabon and Amadicia some time ago. While Perrin’s campaign in Altara killed many, there were two groups of Shaido reported approaching Malden in Knife of Dreams, The Last Knot, one of twenty to thirty thousand and one of thirty five to forty thousand with at least three to four thousand spears in each group. These Shaido moved into Malden to investigate it after Perrin left (The Gathering Storm, Questions of Control) and may follow behind Perrin.
Therava is taking the remainder of the Shaido back to the Aiel Waste.
After the Deathgates took thousands of Trollocs away, there were “maybe a hundred thousand Trollocs” according to Rand and also heaps of Myrddraal for Rand’s channellers to incinerate after the attack on Rand at Lord Algarin’s manor in Tear (Knife of Dreams,The Golden Crane).
The Blight has been very quiet ever since Rand destroyed a vast army of Trollocs, Myrddraal and Draghkar at Tarwin’s Gap at the end of The Eye of the World. But as Lord Agelmar said:
“The Shadow never sleeps.”
- The Path of Daggers, Prologue
In The Gathering Storm, Before the Stone of Tear, Ituralde reported skirmishes with Trollocs and large forces of Shadowspawn gathering in Saldaea and no doubt elsewhere in the Borderlands.So the Shadowspawn armies will soon be back, probably with Dreadlords (Black Ajah and renegade Asha’man) as well.
Sixty Black sisters fled the White Tower and twenty from the rebels on the same day. They may all be heading for the one place and may be told to cooperate with Taim’s Black Asha’man. Not since Liandrin’s group was broken up have there been thirteen Black Ajah free and available to link together with thirteen Myrddraal to forcibly turn channellers to the Shadow, and now we have several times that. (Of course, the circles of thirteen don’t need to be all women, but there does need to be at least seven women in a circle of thirteen - one more woman than the number of men. Even a free and available group of seven Black sisters hasn’t occurred that often before now.) Mesaana has dream ter’angreal that she can give to members of this group to command them more easily (The Gathering Storm, The Tower Stands).
Demandred, the chief general for the Shadow, says his rule is secure and he prepares for war (The Gathering Storm, Prologue). Moridin (currently Nae’blis) is their best overall tactician and is believed to be mostly in the deep northeastern Blight.
In [COT: 22, One Answer, 525-526], Pevara (a Red Sitter in the Tower, and one of the Black Ajah Hunters) shows Tarna (Elaida's new Keeper) a note from Toveine (one of Logain's AS Warders) that had come via one of the Red agents in Cairhien.
(Why Cairhien? This confused a few people. Remember that in the Prologue of COT, Logain's party went first to Cairhien, then to Rand in Tear. So Toveine must have given the note to a Red agent in Cairhien while she was there.)
We're not told what's in the note, only Pevara and Tarna's reaction to it:
"This changes nothing," [Tarna] said flatly. Coldly. "It only makes what I suggest more urgent."
"On the contrary," Pevara sighed. "That changes everything. It changes the whole world."
The thing that Tarna had just suggested was that Red sisters must bond all the Asha'man as Warders, in order to "handle" them [COT: 22, One Answer, 524-525]. So, in light of that, what news could the note have held?
The three most likely possibilities are:
All of these possibilities have obvious relevance to the topic at hand, and all three could be considered of monumental, "world-changing" importance to the Tower AS. It's possible, of course, that Toveine's note mentioned all three events, but the note seemed to be very brief, so for the hell of it we will just assume it only related one piece of information.
In the prologue of KOD, the Reds are reviewing a similiar letter from Sashelle. Sashelle was one of the sisters who was stilled by Rand, Healed, and then swore fealty to the Dragon Reborn. Her letter to the Reds gives the details of her circumstance and the Reds react with considerable shock.
Javidhra growled..."Gentling cannot be Healed! Stilling cannot be Healed! Sheep will fly first! Sashelle must be delusional."
"Toveine might be mistaken," Tsutama said, in a very strong voice, "though if she is, I can't see why these flaming Asha'man would let Logain be one of them, much less command, but I hardly think Sashelle could be bloofy mistaken about herself."
So it seems the most likely that Toveine's earlier note contained the news that gentling had been Healed. It's still possible that her note spoke of Asha'man bonding sisters, and of the Cleansing, but it's only the first one that we can say with any certainity was addressed by her note.
[Leigh Butler, Drew Holton, Jennifer Liang]
The big cliffhanger of COT leaves us with several questions, but the central one is this: who ratted out Egwene's Sooper Sekrit Plan?
There are several possibilities, both for who the traitor was on the Rebel AS side and who captured Eg (and probably Leane too) on the Tower AS side (obviously, each influences the other).
There are also a couple of significant events preceding the operation that probably have something to do with the betrayal. One is the death of Kairen Stang [COT: 30, What the Oath Rod Can Do, 652], who was supposed to be Leane's counterpart in the undertaking. Another is Nicola Treehill's disappearance. Yet another is the unexplained absence of Faolain.
One thing to note at the outset: Egwene's captors are surprised at her identity. Some people have taken this to mean that the capture itself was unplanned, and the AS who captured her were just guarding the wall or something - i.e. there was no betrayal. However, this is highly improbable. The use of forkroot means that the ambush was almost certainly planned, rather than being merely fortuitious - as Ben Goodman points out, forkroot has to be brewed into a tea, which is kind of difficult to carry around "just in case". The precision of the abduction and the lack of a general alarm also suggest that they were forewarned of the plan. It's very unlikely Egwene's captors were there by happenstance; their surprise merely indicates that neither the traitor nor her collaborators on the other side knew about Egwene's last-minute decision to replace Bode.
Unfortunately, a whole lot of people. Egwene had informed the Hall of the scheme [COT: 30, What the Oath Rod Can Do, 666], so that means that not only did Romanda, Lelaine, Sheriam and the rest of the Sitters know about it, but so did Halima, via Delana (and also possibly Sheriam's torturer, if he/she isn't Halima or a Sitter to begin with).
Siuan, Leane, Bode, and Kairen Stang (before she died) also knew, obviously, since they were key players in the plot. Gareth Bryne was in on it [COT: 30, What the Oath Rod Can Do, 664], as was Theodrin; presumably the mysteriously absent Faolain was aware of the plan as well, though we can't know that for sure.
There is also a possibility that Nicola (and Areina) knew.
A few of these people can be eliminated outright as suspects. Kairen, being dead and all, can be safely rejected. There's no way Siuan was responsible. Gareth Bryne, Leane and Bode are all extremely unlikely culprits as well. Let's look at the remaining suspects.
[Tiana, to Egwene]: "Ever since we found out she has the Foretelling, she's been Foretelling two or three times a day, to hear her tell it. ... battles with the Seanchan or the Asha'man, an Amyrlin imprisoned..." [COT: 17, Secrets, 431, emphasis mine]
It's been pointed out that Nicola doesn't remember what she Foretells, but Areina or her "family" were clearly telling her everything she said while tranced out, so that's no obstacle. Indeed that brings up another suspicious connection: Sheriam fiercely lobbies Egwene to let Nicola's "cousins" off the hook for covering up her escape. This could be just because Sheriam's own beatings have left her super-sensitive (so to speak) on the issue of corporeal punishment, but another way to look at it is that she is worried about what they might reveal under duress about either Nicola's escape or her other Foretellings, or both [Patrick Cotrona].
Of course, it could also be that Nicola did run away to the Tower, but had nothing to do with the betrayal. She may have guessed what her "Amyrlin imprisoned" prophecy meant and simply decided to pick the winning side before it all went down. She could even have gone to the Tower in order to help Egwene, unlikely as that may seem.
"The White Tower makes mistakes upon ocasion. It is impossible to live or move without making mistakes. But we live and we go on, and if we sometimes need to conceal our mistakes, whenever possible, we rectify them. Even when it is painful."
[COT: 30, What the Oath Rod Can Do, 672]
"When I was a little girl, I dreamed of becoming Aes Sedai. From the day I reached the White Tower, I tried to live as an Aes Sedai. I have lived as Aes Sedai, and I will die as Aes Sedai. This cannot be allowed!"
[COT: 30, What the Oath Rod Can Do, 668]
Halima would definitely have wanted the plan to fail and keep the two factions deadlocked, but in a strange way that counts as evidence against her - the capture of any Rebel AS, especially two who know how to Travel and make cuendillar, gives a distinct advantage to the Tower faction. Halima's interest is in keeping the conflict at a stalemate. Wouldn't a more efficient way of thwarting the plan while still giving no advantage to either side be to kill Leane and Bode, too? Why only Kairen?
In Knife of Dreams, Loial's mother reveals that the Great Stump is meeting to discussing opening "The Book of Translation". Covril says "We must leave this world eventually, so we can come to it when the Wheel turns...That is written." [KOD 19: Vows]
The mathematical definition of "translation" is "a transformation in which every point of a geometric figure is moved the same distance in the same direction". That is, it's a way of moving a point to another location. It seems like from Speaker Covril's description and this definition that the Book of Translation is intended to move the Ogier somewhere else. But where?
If, as has been postulated by many fans, the Ogier are not native to our reality, perhaps they are being returned to their home dimension? It seems likely that if that's the case, the stedding will go with them. The stedding do not follow the regular natural laws of Randland (i.e. the True Source is unavailable there and the stedding were only moved, not wrecked like the rest of the world during the Breaking) so it's not a stretch the believe that the stedding don't belong in this world either.
During the San Diego ComicCon in 2005, just a few months before the publication of Knife of Dreams, Jordan had dinner with a group of fans. Jason Denzel reports that Jordan made the following statement: "Something that has previously happened in the series is going to be revealed to have a terrible cost. When you read it your reaction will be, 'Gasp. How horrible!'
So what was the Gasp Moment? Many fans after reading KOD claimed to not find it, or when we they did read it, to find it underwhelming. Jordan felt strongly enough about the reaction (or lack thereof) to comment about it in a blog entry:
No, I'm not going to reveal what the "gasp" moment is. I certainly won't be putting any spoilers here. But I have read the reviews, both spoiler and non-spoiler. For those who have read the book and believe you have identified the "gasp" moment, congratulations. For those who have read the book and still don't know what the "gasp" moment is, my sympathies. I mean that in all truth. You failed to see something that really should have made you gasp. I think I am fairly hardened, but occasionally something happens that makes me mutter, "Where are you, God? Are you sleeping? Are you blind?" This is fiction, but even so, I had to pause a couple of times in writing about it. Of course, I get deeply immersed in my work so that it becomes real to me while I am writing, but I hope to pull the reader into that level of realness, too. Either I failed completely in this instance, or some of you have become way too hardened. Too much on the evening news, I suppose. It's just today's hurricane, today's tsunami, today's Armageddon. I wonder what's coming up at eleven?
Take care, guys. And remember, if you can look at absolutely anything without at least a desire to weep, then you've lost part of your humanity.
I think we'll just leave it at that.
In TGS, Sulin appears as one of the Maidens with Rand in Bandar Eban. But in the last book she was with Perrin. No mention of Traveling or communication between the two groups is made. What gives?
Intially, when TGS was released, Brandon insisted that Sulin was right where she was meant to be. After the Atlanta booksigning when I mentioned his "mistake", he said "Don't assume that Sulin is a mistake." Which was consistent with his other statements at previous signings.
However, a few months later scattered reports of Brandon going back on that were posted on the Dragonmount forums. I took an opportunity to clarify the situation with Brandon when I saw him at Minicon in April, 2010. The gist of the conversation is that Sulin was supposed to be with Perrin's group all along. Due to the overlapping timelines of TGS and the forthcoming Towers of Midnight, he thought Sulin would've been able to join the other group. After consultation with Maria Simons, one of the two continuity editors for the series, Brandon realized the mistake and future editions of TGS will be edited to correct Sulin's location.
Brandon posted further confirmation on his Twitter recently:
Rob Trotter on Twitter - 1 August 8:32 am
Any chance you could clear up Sulin in The Gathering Storm? Was her appearance a typo or deliberate (Varied answers exist on the web?)
Brandon - 9:37 pm
Sure, you guys deserve an answer on this one.
Sulin began life as a simple typo. When I saw it, I shrugged, and had a good reason. Maria thought that reason would not work.
So we decided to retcon it out. Mistake was mine all along. Really nothing special to report there, I'm afraid.
At the Chicago stop of the TGS signing tour, Brandon Sanderson told fans there was an unnoticed detail, an indication that something big that had started in books 4-6 (he couldn't recall which one exactly) and has continued throughout the series. He goes on to say that he hasn't seen any fan discussion of it yet.
Unfortunately, there seem to be very few clues. In a series as massive and sprawling there are probably hundreds of background details that pass us by as being insignificant at the time, but probably were placed with significant meaning by the authors. Accordingly, there hasn't been much in the way of solid support for any of the possibilities raised. Some intriguing possibilities include the unseen eyes and related general creepiness of Tel'aran'rhiod, and the current location of the male angreal that Rand lost after Dumai's Wells. But none of these have much evidence behind them. So this one gets a big "We don't know".
In The Gathering Storm, Rand is sporting a rad "new" sword. "He fingered the cloth-tied hilt. The weapon was long, slightly curved, and the lacquered scabbard was painted with a long, sinuous dragon of red and gold. It looked as if it had been designed specifically for Rand-- and yet it was centuries old, unearthed only recently." [TGS 1: Tears From Steel] At a signing, Brandon Sanderson further tantalized us by saying it was discovered, "In water, under a statue, not near Falme"
So what sword is it?
It's probably Artur Hawkwing's sword "Justice". Rand says he recognizes it from his own memories, so that rules out it being a relic from the Age of Legends. Lews Therin doesn't recognize it as his. And the only time we know Rand might've seen a very old sword would have been the Battle at Falme when Mat used the Horn to bring back Artur Hawkwing and the rest of the Heroes of the Horn. Later in the same book, when Rand return's to Falme, he muses again, "..[the sword] made him think of Falme."
So we have a very old sword, but not old enough to be from the Age of Legends, that reminds Rand of Falme, even though it's not from there. It's probably Justice.
Another interesting tidbit about the sword: It's also Brandon Sanderson's. On one of Brandon's first visits to meet with Harriet and team Jordan about completing the series, Jordan's cousin Wilson offered Brandon his pick from Jordan's rather extensive collection of weaponry. Brandon chose a black sword with a red dragon handpainted on it. It's now on display in his home. You can view pictures of it on Brandon's blog.