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A WHEEL OF TIME COMMUNITY

The Aelfinn, and Rand


Silentvoice
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I hope this isn't the wrong spot to post this, I wasn't sure if this topic could easily lead to TGS spoilers or not.

 

 

I'm a little bit confused on the apparently different answers Rand received from the Aelfinn regarding how he is to survive the Last Battle. One answer states

 

"If you would live, you must die"

 

the other is

 

"To live, you must die."

 

 

The first one is past tense, the second is future tense. Either one of them could have been a misinterpretation by Rand, or misremembered. I did a search on the boards, but I was at a loss figuring out what search terms would give me the right posts, but I tried a few anyways and didn't find much.

 

Let's look at the grammar of the first statement. I'm not sure if this was intentional, but the correct way to voice that is

 

"If you were to live, then you must die."

 

Since use of the conditional "if" should be followed by the subjunctive "were." This sounds *very* strange, because we never use conditionals that involve the future and past tense in this manner, due to the linearity of time.

 

By the way, there are various exceptions to the use of "would" following "if," but they don't apply here. They apply in cases like "If you would like ..." The statement above is a straight proposition, "If X then Y" so the subjunctive must be used.

 

 

Anyways. These two statements aren't necessarily contradictory, but one is much weaker than the other. One predicts that a future action will preserve his life sometime before that action (balefire being an obvious culprit). While the other predicts his future life contingent upon a future death.

 

Maybe I'm just crazy?

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"If you would live, you must die"

 

I read this as 'If you wish to live, then you must die.'

 

This is because in olde english, 'would' is grammatically related to the verb 'to will'. At least that's my understanding; I'll check and get back to you in a mo - my browser is complaining!

 

A little later..

 

Right, here we are. Take a look at meaning 6 on

 

http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/would

 

6. (used to express a wish): Would he were here!

 

Hmm.. A while ago I suggested that, since the Old Tongue is capable of many interpretations, that the Aiel prophecies - not to mention all those translations of the K Cycle and so on - may have been misunderstood. But now Rand has reintegrated himself and all his memories - including those of the OT - things may change..

 

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"If you would live, you must die"

 

I read this as 'If you wish to live, then you must die.'

 

This is because in olde english, 'would' is grammatically related to the verb 'to will'. At least that's my understanding; I'll check and get back to you in a mo - my browser is complaining!

 

A little later..

 

Right, here we are. Take a look at meaning 6 on

 

http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/would

 

6. (used to express a wish): Would he were here!

 

 

That's a good point, I didn't consider that. I think that's the more plausible interpretation.

 

(edit)But then again... granted that the Aelfinn have a strange connection with time itself in this world, there may be a hidden meaning behind their words. I'm going to keep this in mind anyways.. Unless someone with better grammar skills than me can say otherwise, I think both interpretations are correct. The phrase is itself ambiguous for this reason.

 

Also I just realized the "if you would live..." occurs in book 6. Unnoticed thing anyone? That was 4-6 wasn't it? I haven't really read much on that, except I know it exists and is somewhere in books 4-6.

 

Not enough coffee.

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I agree with FarShainMael - I always read the "would" in the archaic sense of meaning to wish or to will something to happen. It seemed to fit the style for the Finns, who seem to speak very mysteriously and probably in a more archaic kind of way (even their interpreter from the old tongue) because they haven't had any visitors in quite a while - and it just seemed to fit for RJ in general - he uses language like that some other places too. (Actually I'm rereading LotR right now, and it's the kind of thing you'd read from Tolkien, honestly.)

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I would certainly agree that the Aelfinns' pronouncements are vague and ambiguous - didn't Herid Fel describe their suggestions as to how to cleanse saidin as a riddle? But then, that's oracles for you! ;)

 

 

Yeah Fel said it was some kind of a riddle that, according to Herid Fel, stated "sound principles, in both high philosophy and natural philosophy".  From this riddle, Rand figured out that he had to draw the taint to Shadar Logoth somehow.  So perhaps to Aefinn told him:

 

The taint must be canceled out by an equal and opposite evil.

 

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