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Discuss Lan/Defense of the Blight Border

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Getting back to Lan's fight at the Gap, there is a very simple and sound reason for him not defending..He can't. His entire force is comprised of cavalry :Shienaran Heavy, Saldean light, etc with no infantry. That precludes any kind of static defense since cavalry's strengths lie in mobility and applied force (speed plus mass). Their weaknesses are an inability to penetrate a static infantry defense (At Hastings, the cavalry were repeatedly repulsed so long as the Saxon force remained cohesive) and an inability to withstand an infantry attack (Such as what the Swiss pikeman accomplished with their agressive hedgehogs).

 

It's this latter situation that confronts Lan and dictates how he deploys his force. His force simply cannot stand still and absorb an attack without altering their military posture (They would have to dismount and fight as infantry. Essentially becoming dragoons which, they are not..). If they stayed on their horses, they'd get chopped up by any decent force of haevy infantry. Go back to TOM section where the White Cloaks get hammered by the Trollocs. Until Perrin's force (Properly applied heavy cavalry) hit the Trolloc's flank, the White's were getting crushed. Once they were free to manuever, the situation changed. The Trollocs unit cohesion had broken in the fight and the cavalry was able to exploit that fact and roll them up.

 

Result? A slaughter of the White Cloaks was totally reversed and the Trolloc infantry force was crushed (Just like at Darazzo in 1081 where the Varangians who were crushing their opponents advanced too far from their support and were cut to pieces by the Norman cavalry counter attack.)

 

The problem with Lan's force converting to infantry is two-fold. First, they are not equipped to do so. Dragoons (Infantry that rides to a battle) are not as mobile as cavalry, but they are much more heavily armed and equipped.They are designed to get close to the enemy, dismount and fight as light infantry; holding the opponent in place long enough for the heavy infantry to arrive, take over and finish the job. Second, even if his force were capable of performing that function, the Trolloc's both outnumber them and are far heavier infantry. The result of fighting on the defensive would be for the trollocs to simply roll over them. Lan's force might make them pay large for the gap, but the result is a foregone conclusion.

 

For those comparing the fight at the gap to Leonidas' stand at the Hot Gate, there are two differences..First, as already mentioned his troops were heavy infantry facing light whereas Lan's forces can, at best, be described as light infantry facing off against extremely heavy infantry. Second, also mentioned, the Hot Gate was very narrow, the gap is not, so the trollocs can bring their numerical superiority to bear. Standing on the defense, even dismounted, would be a recipe for a massacere (Just ask the five companies of the U.S. Seventh cavalry that rode with Custer what happened when they did that very thing...Wait, you can't. They died to a man..and they were only facing light cavalry. Reno's and Benteen's forces were able to withstand the attacks leveled at them because they were able to dig in on high ground with sufficient supplies).

 

There is, however, one thing that both scenarios have in common: The inability of the larger force to outflank the smaller (At least for awhile). What really made the stand by the Spartans' possible was the brilliant work of the Athenian Admiral on the scene (I can't even begin to spell his name from memory..sorry) who worked to protect Leonidas' seaward flank. In the narrows flanking the passage his triemes held off the vastly superior Persian naval force, mauling them time and time and preventing them from landing a force behind the Spartans. In fact,if the land path had not been discovered, it is conceivable that the Persians would never have been able to force the pass.

 

At least Lan doesn't have to worry about being flanked (Plus the Trollocs have never shown any great cleverness in their attacks..No sublty, just brute force.). He only has to worry about what's in front of him.

 

However, the same cannot be said of the trollocs. Traveling has allowed the forces of light to be able to appear anywhere, at any time. A force of channelers (Ashaman and Aes Sedai) appearing on the trollocs flanks and smashing them with Saidar and Saidin just as Lan's force reaches them, would destroy their cohesion and their ability to concentrate on Lan's force, enabling him to do to them what Perrin's force did earlier.

 

I do question Lan's use of what he has available. From TOM, it appears that his force is attacking as a jumbled mass. If that is the case, than he's not a very good general..He should have his lancers in the front with the Shienaran Heavies in the center and the lighter troops deployed either behind or on the flanks. Also, if he has any horse archers, he should deploy them in the front rank on the wings and have them open up just before the lancers hit the trollocs and then have them retire into the second line of troops.

 

Of course, the assumption of his force just being a mass of horseman may be completely off the mark and based only on a failure of the authors' to specify the deployment of his troops. Based off what we know of Lan, I'm betting that is, in fact, what has happened.

 

He knows what he's doing.

Edited by Tud

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Tud, that is very, very well said. Thank you.

 

I think we can all agree that Lan's decisions are tactically sound. Strategically? Maybe not. But Tactically, he is doing exactly what he should be doing.

 

(Strategy is the plan for a campaign or a war. Tactics is the plan for a specific battle or engagement.)

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Tud, that is very, very well said. Thank you.

 

I think we can all agree that Lan's decisions are tactically sound. Strategically? Maybe not. But Tactically, he is doing exactly what he should be doing.

 

(Strategy is the plan for a campaign or a war. Tactics is the plan for a specific battle or engagement.)

It's specifically mentioned that his entire force of 12K is mounted.

Lan is making a gesture - essentially cocking a snook against the Shadow by trying to reclaim when he believes himself that it is hopeless.

Normal considerations of strategy don't apply.

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I think what Lan is doing is going to make for some awesome POVs, but i am getting feeling that we wont be able to stay around it for long. One thing i am happy for is the fact that at least one (Kandor?) is completely overrun due to the monarchs taking their armies south and not thinking of the future. They should pay dearly for their mistakes.

 

It was mentioned earlier by someone that Logain could possibly go to help Lan attack being called upon by Nynaeve to do so. I like this idea. it would throw a lot of us since most people think he is suppose to have an epic battle with Taim. Logain achieving his glory by being at the front lines is as good as any.

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Also, guys... please don't use the movie 300 for historical facts. You make yourselves look ridiculous. :rolleyes: (Even though it is easily one of the best ancient war movies ever)

 

I was terribly disappointed with that movie primarily because of its lack of depth and (barely) cursory understanding of what actually happened. The filmmakers could have done something spectacularly awesome and bring a powerful historic event to life on cinema but apparently instead decided they'd rather go the route of skin-deep plot development, special effects and a lot of chest-thumping that displayed all the understanding of the battle and its impact of a Wiki read-through -- if that. I suppose I could have enjoyed it if I wasn't expecting anything more than a way to pass two hours of my time. No, I got my facts from actual research, including several semesters with a history professor who wrote his Master's thesis on the impact of the Greek hoplon (their heavy shield).

 

I'm well aware that Lan's force has a different composition than that of the Spartan army, and that he would of course employ different tactics -- mainly, charging at the onset of the battle. I'm not saying RJ was trying to rewrite history with Lan, but he's appeared to have set up the conditions for an allusion to the Hot Gates. The passable portion of Tarwin's Gap is narrow, and after the initial charge the cavalry won't be able to keep charging. Outnumbered so, at some point they're going to have to just try and hold where the Trollocs' numbers don't count for much. They likely won't have much choice. Any delaying action at the Gap buys the forces of the Light time by keeping the Trolloc force on the other side bottled up. It was remarked by I don't remember who in TGS I think that if the Gap was undefended the Trollocs would have a route straight into the heart of the Westlands. Leonidas' stand kept the Persians bottled up and allowed the other forces with him to evacuate, and also bought time for the rest of the Greek city-states to gather enough forces to ultimately repel the Persians. It's a literary parallel, not a literal one.

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Lets hope they are overrun by shadow spawn so that the shadow spawn can spread out all over Randland.

 

And why are we hoping for this to happen again? Do I smell a Dark friend?

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So now we have Lan charging ahead a'la Tennyson's "Charge of the Light Brigade."

"Forward, the Light Brigade!"

Was there a man dismay'd?

Not tho' the soldier knew

Someone had blunder'd:

Theirs not to make reply,

Theirs not to reason why,

Theirs but to do and die:

Into the valley of Death

Rode the six hundred.

 

Cannon to right of them,

Cannon to left of them,

Cannon in front of them

Volley'd and thunder'd;

Storm'd at with shot and shell,

Boldly they rode and well,

Into the jaws of Death,

Into the mouth of Hell

Rode the six hundred.

 

from 'The Charge of the Light Brigade' by Alfred, Lord Tennyson

Yeah, it's a noble effort. But it's a suicide charge. They're facing 10-to-1 odds against them, and the enemy has channelers. The defense of Maradon was like defending the Alamo against an overrunning army. Lan's noble charge is just absolutely POINTLESS!!!

 

Unless.... unless unbeknownst to Lan, the mysteriously-missing Logain and his team are part of Lan's army. True, Logain is not a Borderlander by birth. Still, it's the only thing I can imagine which could level the odds, since after Maradon Rand said he wouldn't be taking on an entire shadowspan army again until the Last Battle.

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I agree that it's an idiotic attack, and yet...

 

Someone has to stand up and take the fight to the Shadow. Almost everyone except Rand is focussed on fighting a defensive war of attrition, holding off the hordes of shadowspawn, slowly giving ground as the world is swept under, hoping that the Dragon will save them in the end. The problem with that is that it feeds into the Shadow's more subtle campaign of drowning the world in despair. Faith in salvation is, to me, a form of surrender--it requires that you believe in your own helplessness.

 

Lan's charge is utterly stupid, yet there's also something heroic and inspiring about it. It proves that one can look a nightmare in the face and fight back, even knowing defeat may be inevitable.

 

-- dwn

 

if it's idiotic, it's idiotic. if there is any better tactical or even strategic option, he should take it. tactically, we have too little information to definitely say either way, whereas strategically it seems stupid, unless we are given some more information.

i guess because it's just a book, the whole heroic-romantic chaaaaaaaaaaarge to your death thing seems forgivable.

 

On the surface it is tactically foolish. Yet the loss of 12000 isn't going to seriously harm the forces of the light. If that loss--the final act of defiance of the Malkieri--inspires the rest to stand against despair, then it could still be an overall victory for the Light.

 

-- dwn

 

Only on page 2 so hopefully I'm not echoing some earlier posts that I haven't gotten to but...

 

Earlier on page 2 there was a good write up of why the charge wasn't so foolish and I concur with it. What I see here is what I see when I look at the battle of Thermopylae: much larger force attacking much smaller force but much smaller force that a) is deadly to the extreme b) chose the ground to fight on that takes away the advantage the other force has in numbers c) expert in that tactics they are using (I believe the Borderland forces all are well trained in cavalry but my memory is known to fail).

 

Another thing dwn brings up: the 300 Spartans and company lost at Thermopylae but the sentiment that the heroic stand whipped up eventually lead to the routing of Persia (again, if memory doesn't fail me) out of the land and, eventually, lead to the nation of Greece being formed and them taking over the known world from Persia with Alexander the Great. Same thing could happen here though, for sentimental reason I'm hoping for a 9th hour save.

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Earlier on page 2 there was a good write up of why the charge wasn't so foolish and I concur with it. What I see here is what I see when I look at the battle of Thermopylae: much larger force attacking much smaller force but much smaller force that a) is deadly to the extreme b) chose the ground to fight on that takes away the advantage the other force has in numbers c) expert in that tactics they are using (I believe the Borderland forces all are well trained in cavalry but my memory is known to fail).

 

I don't have a problem with the charge itself so much as I have a problem with the charge being made by a handfull of men instead of the sizable army that could have been raised if Lan wasn't being so foolish.

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So now we have Lan charging ahead a'la Tennyson's "Charge of the Light Brigade."

"Forward, the Light Brigade!"

Was there a man dismay'd?

Not tho' the soldier knew

Someone had blunder'd:

Theirs not to make reply,

Theirs not to reason why,

Theirs but to do and die:

Into the valley of Death

Rode the six hundred.

 

Cannon to right of them,

Cannon to left of them,

Cannon in front of them

Volley'd and thunder'd;

Storm'd at with shot and shell,

Boldly they rode and well,

Into the jaws of Death,

Into the mouth of Hell

Rode the six hundred.

 

from 'The Charge of the Light Brigade' by Alfred, Lord Tennyson

Yeah, it's a noble effort. But it's a suicide charge. They're facing 10-to-1 odds against them, and the enemy has channelers. The defense of Maradon was like defending the Alamo against an overrunning army. Lan's noble charge is just absolutely POINTLESS!!!

 

Unless.... unless unbeknownst to Lan, the mysteriously-missing Logain and his team are part of Lan's army. True, Logain is not a Borderlander by birth. Still, it's the only thing I can imagine which could level the odds, since after Maradon Rand said he wouldn't be taking on an entire shadowspan army again until the Last Battle.

 

Think of the timelines.

Logain is indeed an interesting possibility.

Assuming that the missing Ashaman/ As Sedai would go undercover like that (and be able to pull off a Borderland pretence) and Lan wouldn't jib at having women along. Assuming also that Lan wouldn't meet or recognise Logain or any of the AS (easily dealt with either through MoM or there were too many people and Lan never saw Logain and the AS).

 

Another interetsing possibility.

What happened during the long missing period with the Rand narrative?

We know that on VoG +1, he promised to meet Egwene at FoM a month hence.

We know that he rescued Ituralde at Maradon on FoM -2.

On FoM-1, Rand met the Borderlanders

He spent 2 days in Tear and two days in Bandar Eban max

What was he doing during the other 20-odd days in that period?

Lan's timeline is deliberately vague - we don't know when he got to Tarwin's Gap.

It's not impossible to assume it coincided with that missing period in Rand's timeline.

 

At Maradon, Bashere says we should have got here days ago.

Why didn't they?

Was it because that the Dragonsworn army had already got busy rescuing Lan?

I'm not sure if this works at all because Rand still seems to be worried about Lan during FoM/ Borderlanders sequences.

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I personally hope that Rand sends one army with Nyn and others to the Borderlands to help Lan, but that he personally goes to Caemlyn for the epicness that will take place there.

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Lan has wanted to die in the Blight ever since he was old enough to fight, but duty kept him from being able to do so. Now that the Dragon has been reborn and is gathering the nations to him, Lan's duty is over, someone else has taken up the banner of defeating the Dark one and he can finally die. Duty is heavier than a mountian, and even the strongest of men can only carry such a heavy load for so long before they embrace the feather of death.

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150k trollocs vs 12k heavy cavalry in a wide open plain, and the humans are toast.

 

Same thing at Tarwin's Gap? The humans have a very real chance.

 

Remember that due to the terrain, the Trollocs cannot deploy all of their numbers. If Lan's heavy cavalry is ferocious enough to break the morale of the front-rank trollocs, then the ensuing panic from fleeing trollocs could well route the entire army.

 

Also remember the story of Manetheren: they marched for days and stood with the Taren river against their back, facing countless shadowspawn, darkfriends, and dreadlords. Against odds that should have overwhelmed them in the first hour, they held for ten days. Ten days, with their backs against a river, and no defensive advantage to speak of.

 

Never underestimate the power of human spirit, especially in a fantasy.

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Given the timelines I'm assuming Rand has already sorted out the Tarwin's Gap situation before he comes to Field of Merrilor.

AMoL will probably skip backwards and show that arc from Lan's PoV or Nyn's, thereby confusing everybody further.

 

Sorry if this was mentioned already, but an argument against this is that if it was true, Lan would have felt something in the bond. If help is coming, Nynaeve can't be involved.

 

My vote is for Logain coming to the rescue.

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150k trollocs vs 12k heavy cavalry in a wide open plain, and the humans are toast.

 

Same thing at Tarwin's Gap? The humans have a very real chance.

 

Remember that due to the terrain, the Trollocs cannot deploy all of their numbers. If Lan's heavy cavalry is ferocious enough to break the morale of the front-rank trollocs, then the ensuing panic from fleeing trollocs could well route the entire army.

 

Also remember the story of Manetheren: they marched for days and stood with the Taren river against their back, facing countless shadowspawn, darkfriends, and dreadlords. Against odds that should have overwhelmed them in the first hour, they held for ten days. Ten days, with their backs against a river, and no defensive advantage to speak of.

 

Never underestimate the power of human spirit, especially in a fantasy.

 

Correct me if I'm wrong, but the forces of Manetheren took a defensive position in an attempt to hold out until help arrived. Lan and co are making a madass charge into the teeth of the trollocs. Big difference.

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Correct me if I'm wrong, but the forces of Manetheren took a defensive position in an attempt to hold out until help arrived. Lan and co are making a madass charge into the teeth of the trollocs. Big difference.

 

A defensive position in front of the Taren, with no natural barriers to speak off, except the river that keeps them from being surrounded.

 

Compare this to Tarwin's Gap, where the Trollocs can only funnel a limited number of troops at a time, and where Lan can rotate his troops to charge against the horde.

 

Someone has mentioned this before, it's not going to be 12k humans charging into 150k trollocs. Instead, it'll be ~2k humans charging into ~4-5k trollocs while the rest wait in reserve.

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Yeah, that might be a good plan. BUT THAT'S NOT WHAT HE IS DOING!

 

The problem with the whole thermopylae analogy is that Lan isn't defending Tarwin's Gap. He led his army THROUGH the Gap, and into Manetheren proper.

 

And that is a pointless suicide mission.

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Yeah, that might be a good plan. BUT THAT'S NOT WHAT HE IS DOING!

 

The problem with the whole thermopylae analogy is that Lan isn't defending Tarwin's Gap. He led his army THROUGH the Gap, and into Manetheren proper.

 

And that is a pointless suicide mission.

 

Not quite, Malkier ends at the end of Tarwin's gap - beyond the Gap is the Blight. In front of the gap is a long stretch of territory that is currently part of the blight, but used to be Malkier.

Lan and co entered Tarwin's gap at the Malkieri end, and saw a massive army gathered at the Blight end. As Lan's army is a force of heavy cavalry, holding a defensive position would be a waste of the significant advantage that his horses give him. Because of this, he is charging head first into the Trolloc horde, which is still in the gap. This means that Lan and co will be able to, for a time, negate the effect of the Trollocs superior numbers.

Unfortunately I don't know the width of the gap so the exact tactic used will vary, but a head on charge is really the only option - it will allow the humans to use their mounted advantage while keeping the Trollocs from surrounding them.

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Yeah, that might be a good plan. BUT THAT'S NOT WHAT HE IS DOING!

 

The problem with the whole thermopylae analogy is that Lan isn't defending Tarwin's Gap. He led his army THROUGH the Gap, and into Manetheren proper.

 

And that is a pointless suicide mission.

 

Not quite, Malkier ends at the end of Tarwin's gap - beyond the Gap is the Blight. In front of the gap is a long stretch of territory that is currently part of the blight, but used to be Malkier.

Lan and co entered Tarwin's gap at the Malkieri end, and saw a massive army gathered at the Blight end. As Lan's army is a force of heavy cavalry, holding a defensive position would be a waste of the significant advantage that his horses give him. Because of this, he is charging head first into the Trolloc horde, which is still in the gap. This means that Lan and co will be able to, for a time, negate the effect of the Trollocs superior numbers.

Unfortunately I don't know the width of the gap so the exact tactic used will vary, but a head on charge is really the only option - it will allow the humans to use their mounted advantage while keeping the Trollocs from surrounding them.

 

 

Not true. Read the passage again. Lan's POV makes it clear that his army has moved through the gap.

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Another possibility: maybe the timelines are messed up. Lan charging is days after the Fields of Merrilor scenes, so there's the possibility that help arrives with plenty of time to spare.

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Another possibility: maybe the timelines are messed up. Lan charging is days after the Fields of Merrilor scenes, so there's the possibility that help arrives with plenty of time to spare.

 

Thought I read somewhere that all the timelines were caught up for AMoL. Anyone able to confirm that?

Edited by Suttree

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Yeah, that might be a good plan. BUT THAT'S NOT WHAT HE IS DOING!

 

The problem with the whole thermopylae analogy is that Lan isn't defending Tarwin's Gap. He led his army THROUGH the Gap, and into Manetheren proper.

 

And that is a pointless suicide mission.

 

Not quite, Malkier ends at the end of Tarwin's gap - beyond the Gap is the Blight. In front of the gap is a long stretch of territory that is currently part of the blight, but used to be Malkier.

Lan and co entered Tarwin's gap at the Malkieri end, and saw a massive army gathered at the Blight end. As Lan's army is a force of heavy cavalry, holding a defensive position would be a waste of the significant advantage that his horses give him. Because of this, he is charging head first into the Trolloc horde, which is still in the gap. This means that Lan and co will be able to, for a time, negate the effect of the Trollocs superior numbers.

Unfortunately I don't know the width of the gap so the exact tactic used will vary, but a head on charge is really the only option - it will allow the humans to use their mounted advantage while keeping the Trollocs from surrounding them.

 

 

Not true. Read the passage again. Lan's POV makes it clear that his army has moved through the gap.

How so? His POV begins by him looking down at Tarwin's Gap and at the Trolloc horde "clustered on the other side of the Gap."

 

As previously stated, when humans use Tarwin's Gap, it's mostly a defensive measure. However, Lan can use it offensively by cycling his cavalry in repeating charges. This is basically what Galad did in his battle except the Shadow does not have the space to counter or reform its lines.

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actually when galad did it the shadow just pressed forward and chased the calvalry to the foot lines where Galad couldnt reform and charge again

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actually when galad did it the shadow just pressed forward and chased the calvalry to the foot lines where Galad couldnt reform and charge again

Yes, but as I said, due to Tarwin's Gap, the Shadow won't have the space to counter those charges.

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