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It's all so Black and White.


Owayn The Traveller
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Okay I've noticed over the last few months that people claim that Jordan's world is black and White and that there isn't any characters whose intentions are neither black or White but grey. That others books like a song of fire and ice have more varied and differently motivated character, characters who aren't necessarily good or evil. Well I disagree.

 

Elaida: Now she is most defiantly nit an evil character but rather is self centered and deluded with power. She is on the the side of good but her actions and thoughts have had a tendency to lead to her benefits and secondly then to the tower and the good guys. She isn't evil but she has def hindered the good guys with her ways.

 

Perrin: Now Perrin is a good guy but when Faile was taken his actions and thoughts were beginning to ere away from the White side. Thinking of making a deal with the dark one, his actions with the captured aiel and his dereliction of his duty. Again he is deco not evil or black but he was slipping there for a while

 

Now there is other characters in the series that tend to shades of grey in their actions:

 

The Seanchan, whitecloacks.

 

There isn't just two sides to this conflict but rather two main sides with complications and then some other factions. Even Rand displays that the series isn't a straight forward tale if good versus evil like say LoTR. Rand is a complicated character whose has had some very dark thoughts and actions.

 

So what do toy guys think. Maybe you could elaborate or define what I'm trying to say. I'm using my phone as I'm out and about and I think this post shows this. Anyway discuss or not

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It's often said that in the eternal battle between good and evil there can be no neutrals.

 

However, in the specific case of the WoTverse, I'm inclined to agree that there are certain groups which are not specifically aligned to either the Light or the Shadow. The Seanchan and the Whitecloaks are good examples. I wonder sometimes whether the WT itself should be grouped with them!

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It's often said that in the eternal battle between good and evil there can be no neutrals.

 

However, in the specific case of the WoTverse, I'm inclined to agree that there are certain groups which are not specifically aligned to either the Light or the Shadow. The Seanchan and the Whitecloaks are good examples. I wonder sometimes whether the WT itself should be grouped with them!

Good point about WT. I have to add Black Tower to it too (i hope at least not all of it is dark :))

In general, anyone with power has dark and light moments, they have to.

Edited by NetSlider
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On a minor note, Teslyn is an interesting character. She started out distinctly unpleasant, but since her capture by the Seanchan, has demonstrated practicality and honesty, and there's no doubt which she side she'll be on when the you-know-what hits the fan.

 

And, in fact, Faolain is a similar example. She was set up to be hateable, but the very fact that she sided with the Salidar Aes Sedai showed a surprisingly principled side to her character, and I now find myself hoping she has the happy fate Min predicted.

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Well now ... I've seen and heard the comparisons made and read just the other day an interview with Brandon Sanderson where he's been criticized for the very same thing.

 

People who do that are misreading one or the other authors. Martin and Jordan in particular. Anyone who thinks ASoIaF is NOT Black and White are completely off. Who are the ultimate bad guys? The Ice Dudes who are making undead people and critters. There is NO white to them whatsoever so far and I don't see any on the horizon.

 

Everyone else in the story are those who MUST battle these scrubs eventually. THEY are ostensibly the Good Guys and they are every shade of the grayscale palette. Is there any gray to the surviving Stark children? Some but very little. Arya is goin off in a weird direction, but she's young yet and there is good reason for her actions. Jon Snow and Dany? Phhht... WHITE to the BONE.

 

The ONLY real Black and White or moral difference in the books is that ASoIaF is way more graphic in nature. Openly describing things of a sexual nature that Jordan only alludes to. And then using contemporary profanities/obsenities where Jordan invented the ones he uses (and for the most part Really whitebread). I'm not bothered or put off by either.

 

Don't read me wrong, I adore A Song of Ice and Fire. But insofar as Black and White characters only in tWoT and negligible B/W in Martin's opus? No... not really and most definitely not if you look beneath the surface.

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The White Tower is a perfect example FSH and I think epitomise what Auld was saying about some of the characters in that other long running series who must not be named as its long title and I'm not sure about the shorthand version. They are the white side guys but most of them have their own goals that come first and the last battle barely registers for some of them. That might change now with the end looming and with Egwene , everyones fave Aes Sedai, with her hands firmly on the reins. Really enjoyed her in the last few books and really looking forward to her stuff now.

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The way I see it the reason why there isnt much grey in the WoT world is because the Creator and the Dark One have a strong presence. Everyone knows of them, even in Two Rivers they were always able to quote that the Dark One was sealed away. So there is already a strong precedent for the two opposing moral codes. In A song of ice and Fire, there isnt really any such thing. There are numerous gods that different people follow, but the majority dont believe about.

 

Besides, the most grey series is the Chronicles of Thomas Covenant :P

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Not meaning to be rude, but anybody who thinks it's mostly black and white hasn't read the books. Rand's constant struggle against pretty much every single lord since book 3 has been the result of them scheming for their own power. He ends up frustrated because they aren't even thinking about the Last Battle and at one point (maybe more than one) he even reflects on how the High Lords of Tear would rather kill him and try to forget the Last Battle entirely.

 

Most of the characters in the series are in it for their own gain. The Aiel aren't in it for the Last Battle, although they'd gladly fight in it. The Wise Ones at least are only following Rand so closely to see that the remnant he saves is as large as possible. The sea folk follow the coramoor, not the dragon, and I believe only do so because he'll bring about an age of good trade. More than half the series has been Rand's fight against forces not aligned with the Dark, even if they were being manipulated by it to some extent.

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Actually I have to say that on the whole characters are either good or evil... It's just that the people who do fight for the Light tend to disagree about what the Light would want. The Seanchan are one prime example - to them the Light wants them to conquer all of the Westland and have Rand kneel, whilst Rand (initially) wanted to send them back and never return. Both thought they were serving the light.

 

Let me explain.

 

We only think that Rand's 'light' is truest (notice I don't say it is always true) because his is the main story, everything we have been shown leads us to believe that Rands version of what the Light wants is truest. Even the genre conventions demands this. And if Rands light is truest then all the other groups who are fighting him must be grey.

 

However, imagine, for a minute that there was no series called the Wheel of Time. Instead there was this epic trilogy called 'The Forerunners' 'The Return' and 'The Last Battle'. We would think that the Seanchan prophecies are the truest Light. Think what it would have been like for our first actually meeting of Rand to have been with Tuons negotiating. We'd have immediately put Rand in the 'unintentional evil' category.

 

The same can be said of the Aiel, who have their own prophesies they think are truest. Of the Sea Folk.

 

So basically what I'm saying is that, while initially it may seem as though there is a whole host of grey characters, when you dig down underneath the surface to find the truth, you realise that actually there are only really black and white dots. It's just the the White dots are sometimes aiming at other white dots instead of working together against the black dots. This is also what Rand realised when he decided to try negotiating with the Seanchan.

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That doesn't say anything about the lords though. Most of Randland probably doesn't even want to think about the Last Battle and "Light" is only used more of an exclamation the way "damn" would be for us. When it gets down to it, you can peg a "Darkfriend, Not Darkfriend" on any of the characters but that doesn't mean their motives are purely with the Light side in mind - their motives are centered on themselves.

 

Really, it's all about self gain with many of the characters. The Seanchan? Yeah, they want to win the Last Battle, but they didn't know that was coming when they invaded Falme. Their invasion picked up intensity with the knowledge that it was, but it doesn't change that they still mean to take the land for the empress first and not for the fight against the Dark One. The Seanchan conflict throughout the entire series has been an absolutely impartial war to their alignment with the Light.

 

The sea folk still prefer their trade and haggled with Rand knowing full well that he was their Coramoor. Then you have the sea folk only agreeing to use the Bowl of Winds because Nynaeve and Elayne are a bunch of wide-eyed girls and made a deal that couldn't be refused. You can bet the sea folk only had that bowl in their minds and what it would mean for their trade. The girls had to mention the Dark One's touch on weather at sea before they would consider it. They flat out simply did not care about his touch on land.

Edited by Drifter
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Rand has a lot of "grey" to him if you factor in nuking a whole palace to kill one person. Just look at what he did most of the last book; attacks father figure, almost kills an empress, almost nukes the borderlanders, gives up too easily on Arad Domain, uses everybody he can for "his" benefit very often.

 

I mean, the only person I think that is totally "light side" is Loial. and to a lesser degree, Mat. Throw Galad up there too, with his need to do the right thing, but then you have to factor in the fact taht he starts a war (basically) to save some of the supagirls and is willing to hurt peopole if it means doing the right thing.

 

Then throw in character like...Verin. Overall a decent person, worked for the light even though she was a darkfriend. Or Ingtar is a similar example. WHere do you put Jaicham Caradin (SP) who was forced to be a Darkfriend. Then we will have people in the next 2 books who we thought were good turn out to be darkfriends. Lanfear was a horrible person, but she loveed LTT. There's some light factor involved in that. There's gotta be a little (teeny bit) of redeemability in that. Although, I can't say much for any of the Chosen. I think Moridin might be swaying his views, but that is more because of the link (in my POV) and Rand is transfering into Moridin. There aren't many nobles I would say are white but that doesn't mean they are for the dark either. Then there is the whole damane factor. To Randlanders, it's evil. In the POV of Seanchan, it's total opposite. Who right? Who's wrong? POV and intentions play a big part of it, obviously.

 

Then you have Fain who hates the dark and the light - or DO and Rand which close to the same thing.

Edited by Lynander
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That doesn't say anything about the lords though. Most of Randland probably doesn't even want to think about the Last Battle and "Light" is only used more of an exclamation the way "damn" would be for us. When it gets down to it, you can peg a "Darkfriend, Not Darkfriend" on any of the characters but that doesn't mean their motives are purely with the Light side in mind - their motives are centered on themselves.

The Lords (and people generally) know only some of the Prophecies concerning Rand. No-one understands them all. The bits that probably stick in their mind are the verses that show how Rand will break the world, break all bonds. Yes, there is some self-interest there, but can you blame them for trying to preserve their way of life for not just now, but after the Last Battle as well? Is that any different to Rand setting up universities to preserve knowledge?

 

Really, it's all about self gain with many of the characters. The Seanchan? Yeah, they want to win the Last Battle, but they didn't know that was coming when they invaded Falme. Their invasion picked up intensity with the knowledge that it was, but it doesn't change that they still mean to take the land for the empress first and not for the fight against the Dark One. The Seanchan conflict throughout the entire series has been an absolutely impartial war to their alignment with the Light.

For all we know of the Essanik Cycle (The Seanchan only prophecies) they could say something that they interpret as meaning that they must conquer all of Randland (similar to the KC saying "The Two Must Be as One"). But even beyond that, they know that the best thing is for a united world to face Tarmon Gaidon. United in cause and purpose. They believe that the best way for that to be accomplished is to unite the lands under the Empress. Under the Empress, under the Light. With the Dragon Reborn serving as the Empress commands. To their minds, that serves the purpose of The Light entirely.

 

Sure, they may not have know the Last Battle was coming when they invaded Falme, but when they found out, thier strategy makes sense to them - it kills two birds with one stone so to speak, as it enables them to unite the world under The Light, and complete their Return. Remember as well, that when they initially came, they expected to find people waiting to serve them as they left Randland with the knowledge that people knew they would return. They didn't expect that RandLand would fracture like it did with the death of Hawkwing.

 

It is impartial to their alignment with the Light only from a Randlanders perspective. From a Seanchan perspective the two have become inextricably linked.

 

The sea folk still prefer their trade and haggled with Rand knowing full well that he was their Coramoor. Then you have the sea folk only agreeing to use the Bowl of Winds because Nynaeve and Elayne are a bunch of wide-eyed girls and made a deal that couldn't be refused. You can bet the sea folk only had that bowl in their minds and what it would mean for their trade. The girls had to mention the Dark One's touch on weather at sea before they would consider it. They flat out simply did not care about his touch on land.

Their prophesies speak of a Bargain with Rand. All prophesies are equal afterall - they all must be fulfilled. Setting Dragon Prophesies above those of another culture is silly really. Yes, the sea folk are guilty of it, but so are Randlanders and Aiel.

 

As for their bargain regarding the Bowl of Winds, the only real reason that turned out so badly is because neither of the girls (and Randlanders / Aes Sedai in general) are good enough negotiators when the opposing party are also negotiators. Even the Grey Ajah are the neutral party finding the common ground between two others when they are negotiating. Yet a bargain was necessary - what other way is there to sort out who 'owns' a ter'angreal when it has been missing so long that the traditional owner of ter'angreal have never heard of it, and the historical owners of that particular ter'angreal have admitted that it was considered lost? In addition how can they serve the Light effectively at the Last Battle if all they know are weather weaves? Surely getting Aes Sedai to teach them and increasing their OP knowledge is far better than having a whole bunch of channelers who can do little but call stormclouds, and can't even link.

 

(Eurgh, Stop making me defend the Sea Folk :P)

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That doesn't say anything about the lords though. Most of Randland probably doesn't even want to think about the Last Battle and "Light" is only used more of an exclamation the way "damn" would be for us. When it gets down to it, you can peg a "Darkfriend, Not Darkfriend" on any of the characters but that doesn't mean their motives are purely with the Light side in mind - their motives are centered on themselves.

The Lords (and people generally) know only some of the Prophecies concerning Rand. No-one understands them all. The bits that probably stick in their mind are the verses that show how Rand will break the world, break all bonds. Yes, there is some self-interest there, but can you blame them for trying to preserve their way of life for not just now, but after the Last Battle as well? Is that any different to Rand setting up universities to preserve knowledge?

 

Really, it's all about self gain with many of the characters. The Seanchan? Yeah, they want to win the Last Battle, but they didn't know that was coming when they invaded Falme. Their invasion picked up intensity with the knowledge that it was, but it doesn't change that they still mean to take the land for the empress first and not for the fight against the Dark One. The Seanchan conflict throughout the entire series has been an absolutely impartial war to their alignment with the Light.

For all we know of the Essanik Cycle (The Seanchan only prophecies) they could say something that they interpret as meaning that they must conquer all of Randland (similar to the KC saying "The Two Must Be as One"). But even beyond that, they know that the best thing is for a united world to face Tarmon Gaidon. United in cause and purpose. They believe that the best way for that to be accomplished is to unite the lands under the Empress. Under the Empress, under the Light. With the Dragon Reborn serving as the Empress commands. To their minds, that serves the purpose of The Light entirely.

 

Sure, they may not have know the Last Battle was coming when they invaded Falme, but when they found out, thier strategy makes sense to them - it kills two birds with one stone so to speak, as it enables them to unite the world under The Light, and complete their Return. Remember as well, that when they initially came, they expected to find people waiting to serve them as they left Randland with the knowledge that people knew they would return. They didn't expect that RandLand would fracture like it did with the death of Hawkwing.

 

It is impartial to their alignment with the Light only from a Randlanders perspective. From a Seanchan perspective the two have become inextricably linked.

 

The sea folk still prefer their trade and haggled with Rand knowing full well that he was their Coramoor. Then you have the sea folk only agreeing to use the Bowl of Winds because Nynaeve and Elayne are a bunch of wide-eyed girls and made a deal that couldn't be refused. You can bet the sea folk only had that bowl in their minds and what it would mean for their trade. The girls had to mention the Dark One's touch on weather at sea before they would consider it. They flat out simply did not care about his touch on land.

Their prophesies speak of a Bargain with Rand. All prophesies are equal afterall - they all must be fulfilled. Setting Dragon Prophesies above those of another culture is silly really. Yes, the sea folk are guilty of it, but so are Randlanders and Aiel.

 

As for their bargain regarding the Bowl of Winds, the only real reason that turned out so badly is because neither of the girls (and Randlanders / Aes Sedai in general) are good enough negotiators when the opposing party are also negotiators. Even the Grey Ajah are the neutral party finding the common ground between two others when they are negotiating. Yet a bargain was necessary - what other way is there to sort out who 'owns' a ter'angreal when it has been missing so long that the traditional owner of ter'angreal have never heard of it, and the historical owners of that particular ter'angreal have admitted that it was considered lost? In addition how can they serve the Light effectively at the Last Battle if all they know are weather weaves? Surely getting Aes Sedai to teach them and increasing their OP knowledge is far better than having a whole bunch of channelers who can do little but call stormclouds, and can't even link.

 

(Eurgh, Stop making me defend the Sea Folk :P)

 

 

Too many suppositions.

 

But I tend to agree with you, in the end it boils down to DF and non DF. But thats the same with every single story.

 

Look at GRRM. When it comes down to it, it will be people V Cold Ones.

 

They are doing exactly the same as the Tarien Lords, all viying for power. But when it comes to it, they will either be evil and side with the Cold Ones or fight against them.

 

Every single fantasy epic is Good V Evil, or there would be no story. Its one side v the other.

 

that doesnt define black and white though.

 

Black and White would be Rand and Co V Dark One and Shadowspawn. Fullstop.

 

But as others point out, Look at the Tariens. Look at the Cairhien. They know he is the Dragon Reborn. They all know he is the saviour of the light, no matter what you say. But they still try to kill him.

 

Sea Folk do follow Cooramoor the same as Aiel really. They are pretty straight forward, they just want the best out of it for themselves.

 

The Seanchan are the same. But isnt that what defines Gray? Working for one side but not agreeing with the protagonist?

 

What about Fain? he hates both DO and Light. He wants both dead. Same with Mordeth (same person I suppose).

 

I really dont see your point. When it comes down to the Last Battle or the battle against the Cold ones in GRRM. People have to pick sides. They are either for or against. But that doesnt mean its black and white.

 

Edit: Just re-read, seems a bit unclear as to what I am saying. Ill summarize.

 

Basically, in the end it comes down to DO v Rand. Same in GRRM. Cold Ones V People.

 

Does that mean its Black and White? No.

 

Black and White would be Everyone is good like Rand, against the DO and shadowspawn who are evil.

 

This is not the case. People do evil things because of their selfish reasons, but still fight for the light. People do good things but serve the Shadow. Sheriam as an example. She isnt evil as such. She swore to the DO to gain personal power. Shes not a trolloc. She did good things, but was lured into a dangerous situation.

Edited by Barid Bel Medar
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I think the main difference, what people are feeling, is that RJ's protagonists are all good men and women. We see the story from their PoVs. Naturally, they don't all agree on the right course of action, and sometimes even the best of them can be rather ruthless, but they're still good in their core.

Whereas, GRRM's protagonists (I don't even know if I should call them that) are frequently, quite frankly, scum. So, yeah, it's hard to find anyone other than the Starks (though Sansa can be pretty dense) and Daenerys that is truly a good person (among the main characters, that is).

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I agree that it ultimately comes down to which side you will be fighting on at TG. Even then, most characters (possibly with the exception of Semhirage and Moridin because they are either sadistic or crazy) believe in what they are doing, whether it be for righting the world or power. Does fighting for power make a character greedy or evil? I am also pretty confident that most of the darkfriends in Randland were "forced" into it. When the forsaken are keeping your family hostage, are you evil to serve the DO. If so, then I believe you were right up there when you said that Perrin has walked the line on that one too. How sure are we that he would not have made a deal with the forsaken to get Faile back?

 

The characters here, IMO are much more developed and complex, and in many ways believable, than in LotR. I liked LotR, but the characters there were mostly simply good or evil.

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