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Balefire


Manetheren Lord
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Greetings Dragonmouties,

 

Lately I've been thinking about balefire and it's uses, whether it is negative to the pattern or a necessary evil. So let me start with my previous knowledge of balefire. I've always thought that Rand was BA using balefire and when Aes Sedai, such as Cadsuane, would tell him not to use it I would grow angry with them. There's even a good scene in ToM involving one of my favorite female characters and balefire that I thought was pretty cool, but enough of that because I do not want to spoil here that's not what this thread is about.

 

So, who do our heroes use balefire on? Seems like it's just on shadowspawn/forsaken. Why do they use it, well for the shadowspawn I'm not sure why they use it when simply weaves of fire would do the same job without the negative effects on the pattern. Forsaken? Well at first Rand uses it on them because they are so dangerous and it's the best thing to use in the middle of a battle. You don't have to worry about if they survived your weave or if they can do something to counter it, they are just balefire dead! So Rand does this for a while on forsaken and then Moridin tells him, "Hey Rand buddy, you know the GLOD can bring them back if you don't use balefire? Kthxbai." We know Moridin plays both sides of the board in stones, because it is very hard to lose. So wait, why would Moridin want him to use balefire? Well it destablizes the pattern, of course!

 

What we are left with is balefire destablizies the pattern and it also gets rid of Forsaken for good... or does it? RJ has told us that

Balefire: If someone is balefired, the Dark One can't reincarnate them. But they CAN be spun back out into the Pattern as normal. Balefire is NOT the eternal death of the soul.
(Source: https://docs.google.com/Doc?id=dcjspjqg_74xw3j58sj#FOOTNOTE-6) Alright this is the important part... In the grand scheme of the wheel turning over and over again, if our heroes use balefire every turning of the wheel doesn't that mean the pattern will eventually become unraveled from too much balefire? I've never been too keen for Ishamael's theory that the shadow will eventually win... but if our heroes do keep using balefire then the Dark One will win, for the pattern will be destroyed.

 

I don't mean to suggest that some uses of balefire haven't been beneficial, when Aviendha and Mat were killed by Rahvin balefire was used by Rand and that brought them back to life. Without Mat (possibly Aviendha also) the forces of light can't win the last battle. The use of balefire on other forsaken, however has been a very negative effect on the pattern. It doesn't matter if the Dark One can bring them back... most of the forsaken haven't really done anything at all. It's just hurting the pattern because they'll be spun back in anyways, why does it matter if they are brought back into this age?

 

Sooooo.........What do you all think about this? I don't really want to hear the thoery back that this just proves Rand must kill the dark one! xD That's just contrary to everything Rand learned in Veins of Gold. That's crazy Rand talk.

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The situation when using balefire could break the pattern apart is during the War of Power, when entire cities were burned out of the pattern, on a much higher scale than Natrin's Barrow. Had that pattern of behavior continued, existence would have unraveled. But even with multiple cities destroyed in this way, the pattern held. The use of such small scale balefire as to kill a single person is nothing the pattern can't handle, especially if it has time to 'heal' itself between uses. I don't think its use has a cumulative effect on the pattern's instability.

 

If Balefire was the way of leading to a DO victory, then Moridin would have Taim's Ashaman group learning it and going nuts. 50 - 100 guys Traveling all over the place Balefiring key outposts of the Light would serve two purposes then.

 

Why Moridin tells Rand this information is curious though. Perhaps he's nudging Rand towards thinking of using it at Shayol Ghul, where who knows what might happen. Killing Forsaken with balefire is certainly a positive thing however. When you say they haven't done much of anything... well, some didn't accomplish a whole lot, but others had entire nations either under their thumb or in utter chaos. They are major tools of the Shadow and should be eradicated completely.

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The use of balefire per se is not the problem. It's the use of it in vast quantities for the destruction of entire cities, as stated above by Sid, that is such a serious issue that both sides stopped using it by the end of the War of Power. Aes Sedai of the Third Age don't approve of it, 'cause those fools don't approve of anything...except that which is convenient to them, that they know (which is very limited in terms of the One Power) or what they don't understand and therefore, fear (which is a ton of things). Especially that insufferable know-it-all Cadsuane. Good thing Rand's never listened to the "legend's" advise too much.

 

Rebirth and being brought back to life by the Dark One are, clearly, not the same thing. If RJ used the rules that apply to the Eastern Samsara (cycle of rebirths) then, having the Pattern spin someone out after being balefired means that they'd be subjected to the same rules as everyone else (being born as mere sucklings, memory loss, etc.). And, if Karma applies to TWoT universe (as the phrase "for my rebirth and hope of salvation" suggests) then, I'd have to say that b'fired Forsaken are in for a wild ride their next time around the Wheel, as they'll have to pay for all the pain, suffering and destruction they have caused. Either way, their normal rebirth would never pose the same threat than being brought back by the DO.

 

Veins of Gold was about Rand facing the Shadow, yes. Not the DO though, but Jung's Shadow. That is delving deep inside to face and conquer our own dark side, lest it conquers us (as it was doing to Rand). Veins was an epiphany; it was about Rand really getting to know and come to terms with his true self. It doesn't have anything to do with Rand's intentions to kill the DO or his plans, strategies and tactics for Tarmon Gai'don.

 

I can't understand why you'd call killing the DO "crazy Rand talk", since it's the only way to insure that he wouldn't try to come back again and again and again through the ages. In fact, blasting the DO to oblivion makes perfect sense and gives the phrase LAST Battle real meaning. Otherwise, it's just one more confrontation between Light vs. Darkness.

Edited by Darth Krewl
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"Its not the mountain ahead that tires you out, its the grain of sand in your shoe."

 

Think about that quote when it comes to balefire. yes, small amounts of balefire would certainly not affect the pattern like big bursts of city killing balefire, but with the pattern already in a state of flux, it could, as Moiraine once warned, throw Rands ta'verenship onto him and make him possibly lose TG.

 

As for wiping out Forsaken, remember that the ones who have been reincarnated, with the exception of Ishy/Moridin, tend to be lower in the eye of the DO than the others. I doubt He will keep bringing back those who make a habit of dying. Of course, Rand and Moridin probably don't know that. Moridin probably wants Rand to take out the Chosen one by one to remove a threat.

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The use of balefire per se is not the problem. It's the use of it in vast quantities for the destruction of entire cities, as stated above by Sid, that is such a serious issue that both sides stopped using it by the end of the War of Power. Aes Sedai of the Third Age don't approve of it, 'cause those fools don't approve of anything...except that which is convenient to them, that they know (which is very limited in terms of the One Power) or what they don't understand and therefore, fear (which is a ton of things). Especially that insufferable know-it-all Cadsuane. Good thing Rand's never listened to the "legend's" advise too much.

 

Rebirth and being brought back to life by the Dark One are, clearly, not the same thing. If RJ used the rules that apply to the Eastern Samsara (cycle of rebirths) then, having the Pattern spin someone out after being balefired means that they'd be subjected to the same rules as everyone else (being born as mere sucklings, memory loss, etc.). And, if Karma applies to TWoT universe (as the phrase "for my rebirth and hope of salvation" suggests) then, I'd have to say that b'fired Forsaken are in for a wild ride their next time around the Wheel, as they'll have to pay for all the pain, suffering and destruction they have caused. Either way, their normal rebirth would never pose the same threat than being brought back by the DO.

 

Veins of Gold was about Rand facing the Shadow, yes. Not the DO though, but Jung's Shadow. That is delving deep inside to face and conquer our own dark side, lest it conquers us (as it was doing to Rand). Veins was an epiphany; it was about Rand really getting to know and come to terms with his true self. It doesn't have anything to do with Rand's intentions to kill the DO or his plans, strategies and tactics for Tarmon Gai'don.

 

I can't understand why you'd call killing the DO "crazy Rand talk", since it's the only way to insure that he wouldn't try to come back again and again and again through the ages. In fact, blasting the DO to oblivion makes perfect sense and gives the phrase LAST Battle real meaning. Otherwise, it's just one more confrontation between Light vs. Darkness.

 

Veins of Gold was not only a personal conflict, it was a result of his war with the shadow, the peoples of Randland and the Seanchan. Nothing is simple in this book, these are complex characters with complex emotions. He has had people constantly pushing him, thinking to get him out of the way, seize their own power, why does the Dragon Reborn really matter anyways? We have highlords of tear and lords/ladies other nations who have wanted to kill him and become a ruler. Out of pure greed without even a hint of thought as to why Rand is so important, why the war with the shadow is so important. There is the seanchan, whom have always been a thorn in rand's side. "Of course the Dragon Reborn is important, he must fight the Dark One." However the underlying fact is that Rand is the Dragon Reborn, he is ta'varen and more important as a person than anybody's ruler or liege. Constantly are people proding him because they don't realize this, they are greedy or see him as something to be manipluated. Then of course there is the shadow that has been constantly hammering him this way and that.

 

All of this stress has built up upon him, as he started merely a simple farm boy who couldn't even stand killing a man, much less a woman. We see the climax of all these pent up emotions. At the height of Veins of Gold, Rand questioned the creator why, what's the point if we're going to just live these lives over and over again? Why bother, wouldn't it be better if the shadow just won and we could be over with it. Of course we all know the answer is to love, to laugh, to enjoy life and all of these emotions. The Wheel of Time is a important to the series, it is spinning, ever turning. Nearly every culture in our world has thought of time as cyclical, the romans were the first to think of it in a lineral manner. This is so important to know that in the wheel of time, time is cyclical, everybody knows the wheel exists. There are neither beginings nor endings, there is no Light without Shadow. Rand will not kill the dark one. Even the idea that Fain becomes the new Dark One seems silly to me, what would be the point to replace him? Why even kill the dark one then and have somebody else become it there's no point to it. Resealing the prison that the creator made at the moment of creation on the dark one is the only option for our heroes.

Edited by Manetheren Lord
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Alright Manetheren Lord,

 

Seems to me like we're not approaching this topic from the same perspective. Because, what I get from you is that you speak of Rand al'Thor from an in-universe perspective. Whereas, I was approaching it from an outside perspective, based in Joseph Campbell's "Hero's Quest/Journey", in turn, based mostly, on Jungian archetypes, in turn, based on Eastern philosophy. Mostly, Buddhism.

 

There is the story Siddhartha Gautama, the Buddha and his epiphany under the Boddhi Tree. When he reached enlightenment, Siddhartha was immediately challenged by the armies of Mara, Lord of the Underworld. Buddhist tradition tells us that Mara came at him with everything he got. And yet, he couldn't touch the Boddisatvah because he had become enlightened. And an enlightened man is beyond the grasp of his enemies; beyond the grasp of evil.

 

In that sense, Rand went through the same process. Awakening. Illumination. Enlightenment. Call it what you wish. But that was what I was talking about. Rand's epiphany (which is what that chapter is, actually) was about everything that he was experiencing, just like you've pointed out. Yes. Alas, it was not about doing any external strategic and tactical planning. It was about him finding his own way. Superman going to the Fortress of Solitude. Luke facing his own demons at the cave in Dagobah. Aragorn looking straight into the Palantir and facing Sauron. It's the same thing. So, in this sense, it's quite the contrary to what you say. It's always all about personal conflict.

 

It's about conquering the enemy within, for if you don't do that, then you won't conquer any external foe. Simple human nature. You must know thyself, before you can know thy enemy. And once you have defeated the enemy within, you cannot be defeated by external factors, anymore than a rock can be defeated at sea, no matter how many waves pound against it. They may pound you mercilessly and shape you, but they cannot break you.

 

And these, aren't complex characters, my friend. In fact, TWoT characters are the typical, two-dimensional all good or all evil characters found in most fantasy tales. You want complex? Try Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire. Now, that's complex characters. The WoT is a hell of a lot of fun, but it's nothing other than that. Good, healthy entertainment. It's not the Bible, the Torah, the Koran or the Buddhist Pali Canon. You want deep, seek elsewhere. As for the answer to the riddle of living through the cycle of rebirths over and over again, I suggest you do some research on Buddhism. Because, while you may think that the keys lie in love, light and laughter, that was not the answer that the Buddha found to escape the pain and the grief of the Wheel of Time (the original Eastern concept) and the cycle of rebirths. Read a little about the Dharma and you'll find your answer.

 

Now, as for the second part of your post, it wasn't the Romans who thought of time as linear (it's not lineral, but linear). It was the Greeks. And they did it long before Rome ever came to prominence. I suggest you check your sources, if you will.

 

But, back to fantasy and the WoT series. As for Rand not killing the Dark One, there's a reason why all the very wise characters in Elrond's Council decided that the One Ring had to be destroyed and not put away. I guess that's why Yoda told Obi-Wan "destroy the Sith, we must", instead of "capture the Sith, we must.". And that reason is simple, these sort of villains, the Dark Lords of fantasy, are too dangerous to keep alive. If you think that the answer is sealing the Bore, then that's your prerogative and I respect it. But, I strongly disagree. Otherwise, the Dark One would be left alive and kicking, capable of finding another way out of his prison on a coming age. And, again, the name Last Battle would make no sense whatsoever, for other battles would ensue in coming ages.

 

I never said that Rand will kill the Dark One. I don't even know if a demigod like Shai'tan can be killed or not. All I said is that the idea makes perfect sense. As for Fain being the new Dark One, he is the archetype of the wildcard (what Gollum was in TLoTR or Agent Smith in the Matrix). Not the apprentice, a la Sauron or Darth Vader. So, IMO, that theory wouldn't even be worth discussing, anymore than the theory claiming that Mat is the Dragon Reborn and Rand just a decoy lol!

 

Cheers.

Edited by Darth Krewl
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Although I admit it wasn't the best wording, I never said that it wasn't a personal conflict, just that it was everybody pushing him pressuring him into it that it was so much more; and quite obviously yes it was a personal conflict he stood up on a mountain thinking by himself didn't he? Yes I quite agree with you that it was a personal conflict and in doing so, finding himself he's cleared up 'the rubble' (not the seals xD) so he can do what he must.

 

I've taken college courses on eastern religion, yes I am quite familiar with the Dharma and I don't agree with some of the core philosophies of it. To sum up Buddhism in a sentence: Suffering is the problem, enlightenment (read pacifism) is the solution. It's the underlying factor of what Buddhism is, and although I don't mean to suggest some don't become enlightened; it's important to know that so much of the religion is about pacifism. This isn't what Rand's epiphany was about, he knows that he has to fight the shadow and in finding himself he has not allowed his enemies to touch him much like Siddhartha.

 

Contrary to your belief, I would very much argue that the wheel of time characters are complex. Alignment does not make the characters two-dimensonial. You're getting this from the fact that in Asoiaf, characters don't have an alignment between good and evil. The, about seven main characters in Wheel of Time are all light sided alignment and they seemingly more often than naught struggling with conflicts with each other. Yes the Asoiaf characters are very complex, but in saying that it's ridiculous to suggest that wheel of time characters are not complex. Robert Jordan spent ten years before he wrote the books just doing research on mythology, creating his world, and characters. You're confusing a deep world with a gray world, a common misconception.

 

Indeed again you are right about the Greeks being the first. However the Romans years later conquered that area and Greece became the head of the Eastern roman empire and then the Byzantium. No they were not the first, but like many other things they spread this belief so it became so known today in many cultures.

 

I believe that you hinted at quite the fact that you do- or did in this case- have an inkling that Rand would defeat the dark one with this.

In fact, blasting the DO to oblivion makes perfect sense and gives the phrase LAST Battle real meaning. Otherwise, it's just one more confrontation between Light vs. Darkness.
Aswell as
And that reason is simple, these sort of villains, the Dark Lords of fantasy, are too dangerous to keep alive. If you think that the answer is sealing the Bore, then that's your prerogative and I respect it. But, I strongly disagree. Otherwise, the Dark One would be left alive and kicking, capable of finding another way out of his prison on a coming age. And, again, the name Last Battle would make no sense whatsoever, for other battles would ensue in coming ages.
My point is that life is not meaningless because people are constantly having a conflict against the shadow. Perhaps the reason that they are able to see this just because the shadow has such hard intentions to destroy this. What is wrong with living lives over and over again just because this Last Battle isn't the final Last Battle, that there are many Last Battles. The Last Battle is not the end, because there are no beginings or endings in the turning of the wheel of time, but it is a ending. As for what I think the climax of the Last Battle will mean, resealing the Bore. The specifics: Callandor will be important to resealing the bore, putting "the sword in the stone" just as he drew it from The Stone of Tear; as well as using the song in some manner and possibly an ogier grove. However only time will tell whether this turns out to be how it happens.

 

I eagerly await your reply. :mat:

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Nice little debate we have here, ML. Very interesting, too, I'd say.

 

Okay, lemme see, from an in-universe perspective, I totally agree w/you in the sense that Rand has been pushed and pressed since the very beginning. Every Aes Sedai he's ever been in contact with (from Moiraine to Cadsuane) has tried to control and manipulate him because, they "know better" than him and, since he's the Dragon Reborn, they believe that it's their Creator-given duty to lead Rand by the hand. He had to put away the outside noise, in order to listen to the inner voice...or clearing the outer rubble in order to listen to his instinct and know what he must do. Indeed.

 

Well, I didn't mean to say that I agree or disagree with the Buddhist perception of Nirvana (renouncing attachment, in order to stop suffering and reaching enlightenment). I only used it to illustrate yet one more Eastern idea that RJ may have borrowed from. I do understand Rand's epiphany as a sort of awakening that allowed him to see past the every day strife and reach enlightenment. Thus helping him reach a perfect balance between what he is and what he must do. Not that he's going to lay down his arms and give it all up in the way that the Buddha did. But that he will fight under his own terms and not those of his enemies or those who wish to become his handlers.

 

My belief of the Wot characters stems off the fact that I have read tons of fantasy books and watched an equal amount of films within the genre. And the truth is that I could sum them up in a couple of lines each. Mat is the ultimate scoundrel w/a heart of gold, a la Han Solo. He wants to avoid responsibility (and fighting) at all costs. Has been the same since he left the 2 Rivers and, up to TGS he's still the same. Ditto for Perrin, always struggling with his wolf-brother nature and his duties as a leader. Neither character has either grown nor been faced with other kinds of challenges.

 

If you compare that to the challenges facing Danaerys Stormborn, Jon Snow or Jaime Lannister or his brother, Tyrion the Imp in ASoIaF, you'd find that, in 4 books, those characters have been faced with a myriad of different, every day problems (just like us, in real life) that the WoT characters have not faced in 12 books. That's 3 times as many books and the WoT characters are still stuck in neutral! So, at least IMO, WoT characters are not deep nor complex. I'm into WoT because of the characters, but the story that Jordan created, his world and the back story of the AoL, which I find amazing. But as far as character strength, diversity and depth, Martin takes the gold home for my taste.

 

Now, I read on the 13 depository that RJ was a Freemason, in which case, the man was clearly very knowledgeable about history, mythology, religion and the occult in general, despite the 10 yr. research that you say he conducted. In fact, the Wot is FILLED with Masonic symbolism and lore. I'm no Mason myself, but I've been in touch with several Masons in my time, to know that this is, in fact, a very likely possibility. Plus, RJ was a great writer. Just not very good with human nature, IMO. Because creating a deep world, filled with color and folklore (such as WoT's) is not the same as being keen enough on human nature to pin your characters down. Also, by not killing off many of his main characters, I believe that RJ was his own worst enemy, in the sense of not providing his story with a little more drama and sense of danger.

 

Rome is credited with most of modern day Western civilization, because of the importance of the Empire, of course. To this day, we rely on many a Roman tradition, including the notion that time is linear. So, we're on the same page there, too.

 

Oh, I do want to believe that Rand means to kill the DO. But I know I may be wrong and, again, it may not be possible, given Shai'tan's status as a demigod. He may be immortal and that may be why the Creator chose to imprison him, rather than kill him. I just think that killing the guy (if possible) would be the best choice. Now, here's a thought. What if Shai'tan was no real sentient being per se, but actually just an energy, in this case, the pure essence of evil itself?

 

Keep in mind what I said about Jung's Shadow and think that the very name for Shai'tan and followers is the Shadow. So, again, what if he is the Shadow in everyone's very core and is being brought to life by fear, hatred, jealousy, greed, lust, etc? Perhaps that would explain why, by defeating his own dark side, Rand is above the Shadow by now.

 

Just a thought. But I think it's a valid one. And therein may lie the key to sealing the DO once and for all.

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