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A WHEEL OF TIME COMMUNITY

Is the Story Already Over?


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According to Orson Scott Card, you should begin the story that you finish, or alternatively, you should finish the story that you begin. A story is most typically a narrative concerning a tension in the lives of the characters, relating how that tension is resolved. What Card’s advice amounts to therefore is that when you write a story, you should begin by introducing a certain tension, and you should finish by resolving that tension. For example, if you are writing a mystery, the story will likely begin by introducing a murder, and the tension is usually whether the detective (or “detective”) will solve the crime and bring the killer to justice. The story ends when the detective solves the crime and justice is done, or alternatively the killer eludes justice.

 

There are two points where we might argue that The Eye of the World begins: the prologue and the first chapter. Orson Scott Card also complains about the proliferation of prologues in sf and fantasy because these are usually pure exposition only indirectly related to the story, and therefore only confuse the new reader. He says that he regularly skips prologues and reads them only after he finishes the novel. When you think about novels like the Belgariad you can see the point of this advice. The Belgariad is, obviously, the story of how Garion becomes Belgarion and saves the world from Torak, and the prologue (IIRC) doesn’t concern this story at all; it only sets the backdrop for the story by introducing us to Torak and his brutish brand of evil. We could call this a “world-building prologue.” Authors use it to freely dump a bunch of world-building on readers without having to integrate this exposition into the plot. One question we have to ask is therefore this: Is the prologue to The Eye of the World just another indulgent world-building prologue, or is it part of the main story? To answer this question we have to ask whether the prologue introduces a tension that the main narrative attempts to resolve, or that main tension arrives only in the first chapter.

 

What story does the prologue introduce us to, then? What characters and tension does it introduce us to? I’m writing this from memory without access to the books, so please correct me if I miss anything. The prologue introduces us to two characters: Lews Therin Telemon and Elan Morin Tedronai. We are obliquely introduced to Ilyena Therin Moerelle. The setting of the story is Lews Therin’s ruined home, and when we are introduced to Lews Therin, he is stark raving mad. Elan Morin appears at least mostly sane. We know that they were engaged in some conflict with each other, but we are left largely in the dark about the nature of this previous conflict. The issue of the prologue is, what happened to Lews Therin’s family and home? What we learn is that Lews Therin is himself responsible for what happened—he killed his family and ruined his home, and that this was the result of some kind of counterattack against his final blow in the war against Elan Morin’s side. This introduces a new question: What will Lews Therin do about this? Unfortuantely, understanding his responsibility for his family's death just takes him from mad to suicidal and he destroys himself in a giant release of energy.

 

This story seems self-contained: What happened to Lews Therin’s family and home? Answer: He went mad and killed them. Climax: Lews Therin realizes he killed his family. Resolution: He kills himself. Now that’s a depressing little story, and it has the advantage over most fantasy prologues of being a complete story all on its own, but it’s not obviously an overture to any future story.

 

This points us towards the first chapter, “An Empty Road.” We are here introduced to a whole host of characters, especially Rand, and the author quickly introduces tension through Rand’s encounter with a “dark rider” whom we later learn to be a Myrdraal. The question is: Who is after Rand? Why are they after Rand? Can Rand escape them? And this is certainly the story we follow in The Eye of the World and The Great Hunt: From the very beginning, Rand only wants to get away from these people and not get himself or anyone he cares about killed. Later, we begin to realize that Rand’s only way of accomplishing this goal is to save the world in some kind of last battle as the “Dragon Reborn.” Rand also learns that he must most likely die himself to prevent those he cares about from being killed—this is a downer, since it means that Rand can only accomplish one of the tasks that he began the story trying to achieve. His best hope is that he can somehow save other people. He might not even succeed in that, though. The main tension is therefore created by this question, Will Rand be able to save himself and those he cares about (and incidentally the whole world!) from these evil dark forces that want to kill them and take over the world? And we look forward to Tarmon’Gaidon as the conclusion to this tension: the resolution to this tension will only be achieved when Rand and the Light-siders win the last battle against the Dark One. Analyzed this way, A Memory of Light will provide the climax to the series, during that final battle and Rand’s attempt to reseal the bore.

 

It therefore would seem that (a) the prologue was a typically useless fantasy prologue and (b) The Wheel of Time is basically an epic fantasy concerned with humanity’s battle against a supernatural force that aims to destroy the universe. It would so seem, except for one problem: This is a universe with reincarnation.

 

Rand is the Dragon Reborn. We are not introduced to Rand in “An Empty Road”; we’re introduced to Rand in the prologue. The story about Lews Therin seemed to end because he died, but since he is reborn in the very same book, in the very next chapter, we ought to ask whether the main tension is what we thought. The Dragon’s story isn’t over at all. He attempted to resolve the prologue’s tension through killing himself, but got brought back. His story is therefore still unresolved.

 

Compare this then to a story like that in the movie “The Last Emperor.” That movie begins in Communist China, where the last Emperor of China, Pu Yi, has been captured by the Communists. Before long he attempts to kill himself, but is prevented from doing so by the prison warden. (I think it is the warden. Bear with me if it isn’t.) He tried to escape his predicament through suicide, but wasn’t allowed to; instead, he has to work through the consequences of his collaboration with the Japanese invaders and find a different resolution. Lews Therin, like Pu Yi, tried to resolve the problem through suicide, but whereas Pu Yi was prevented from killing himself, the Dragon was simply Reborn.

 

So it turns out that Rand’s quest is not different from Lews Therin’s: He just wants to protect the people that he cares about. That makes sense, since each is just a name for one person, the Dragon. This changes the complexion of The Wheel of Time, however. The prologue does not begin with the War of the Power. It begins with Lews Therin’s ruined life. Lews Therin’s life is contained within this war against the Dark One, but our focus is not this war, but this one man. And this man’s problem is this: He wants to protect those he cares about, and he failed. He didn’t protect them. In fact, he killed them. But he’s been reborn, and this means that he has a second chance to protect them. The Wheel of Time is, then, a story about redemption. It’s about one man’s second chance to do the same thing, and the question is: Will he redeem himself by doing it better this time? Or will he go mad again and kill everyone he loves?

 

But if this is the story of The Wheel of Time, then isn’t “Veins of Gold” the climax to the story? You might object: But we still don’t know whether Rand will be able to save the world; he still might fail to stop the Dark One, and everyone he loves may be killed. To some degree, this objection is true. But the problem is that, after “Veins of Gold,” our view of Tarmon’Gaidon is altered. If The Wheel of Time were a mystery novel, “Veins of Gold” would be the point when the detective solves the crime. He still needs to apprehend the criminal and bring him to justice, but the main point of the mystery has already been resolved: the crime is solved. The Dragon has "figured it out," not how to seal the Dark One, but how to live. Figuring out how to seal the Dark One is just a pseudo technical problem that will be solved through mumbo-jumbo. The big resolution is Rand's figuring out how to live or, to put it in the Aiel's fetching way, learning how to embrace death.

 

In the same way, “Veins of Gold” answers the principle question that is raised by the beginning of the series: Will the Dragon do it better, this time? Will he use his second chance to redeem himself? After “Veins of Gold,” we know that the answer is yes. He will not try to escape from his pain through suicide, this time—think for a moment what might have happened if Lews Therin, cleansed from madness, had done something other than kill himself—but will remain sane and will at the very least not kill those he cares about by his own hand. The book pushes this point upon us very hard by making the precipitating event for Rand’s epiphany his near-call in almost killing his father; his father, the very first character we know him to care about since his killing of his family in his last life. Now we know that this will not happen again. The Dragon will do it better this time, in fact, he realizes in “Veins of Gold” that the whole point of being reborn is to do it better.

 

So the story introduced in the prologue is essentially over. The Dragon has redeemed himself. He’s figured it out. Now all he has to do is seal the Dark One—or to put it otherwise, all he has to do is apprehend the criminal. The climax, however, has already passed. We do want to know if the Dragon will win the war this time, too, just as we want to know if Sherlock Holmes will catch the criminal. But the main tension in the story is already resolved. It was over in “Veins of Gold.”

Edited by Pygmalion79
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The dragon has come to terms with who he is and what he's done in the past. Maybe I don't understand your meaning for "redeemed" but it seemed to me that he would get redemption (so to speak) when he would correct his past blunders and recreate the prison.

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First of all, excellent post.

 

A well thought out theory.

 

In part, I agree. A huge part of the story is over, definitely. But I still believe that the MAIN story has always been the Light V Shadow, rather than LTT redemption.

 

I also agree with Aquarius. LTT has realised his mistakes, but thats only half of it. He must actually fix those msitakes to complete his "redemption" (if that is the right word).

 

So, yeah, a big part has been finished, but its like this : Rand is in a fight. For a while he has been looking for his sword. VOG he found the sword. But he still has to pick it up and use it to cut down his enemy (the DO)

 

Even with that analogy, Rand hasnt really found the "sword". he still needs to figure out how to seal the prison. I understand your arguement against the importance of that, but the correct sealing, to me, has not just been a minor point, but the major thing. If we are talking about LTT redemption. THe correct sealing is a very big part of that.

 

Last time the sealing forced him and male channelers to go mad. To "redeem" himself, would it not be logical to assume he would have to find a way to seal the bore without the taint?

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First, a comment on the medium. Your post would probably fit better as a blog entry, to which you could link to start a debate (and perhaps explain in a nutshell). That way I believe you'll find more people will enter the discussion.

 

Now, I have to say I think what you suggest is fascinating. My position though is that it isn't a question of either/or. TWoT is primarily a story about Rand's struggle with the Shadow, but that's not all that it is. The part about his learning the meaning of it all, or the right way to live, is at an end as of VoG. But the part about the struggle to free humankind from the Shadow isn't. Nor are the stories of countless characters, all of whom TWoT follows closely. If I may suggest a parallel (and a trivial one at that) - what would you say the main narrative of LotR is? Is it the hobbits' quest for peace and freedom to live their lives as they choose (which begins fairly early into The Fellowship and ends at the end of Return of the King), Frodo's struggle to prove himself worthy of carrying the One Ring (which takes a bit longer to manifest clearly, and arguably ends with his failure near the middle of Return; or perhaps he did succeed after all, since he was able to put his trust in Samwise and maintain their relationship through the tension the Ring put on it, and it was Sam that he needed in the end) or was it Middle-Earth's struggle against Sauron (which began with The Fellowship but ended near the middle of Return)? It was all of them put together, and likely other parts as well. Would the story be complete if it ended with the destruction of the One Ring? No, since our hobbits didn't get what they were after yet.

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To put it like Barid did...

 

It seems to me he has now understood what Verin said to Egwene about how the battle wiuld be fought. Part of it, at least. Maybe the theory is right in that This understanding was indeed the end kf the story.

 

...yeah ok it still needs swords, blood, tears, and a buttload of sniffing to get to the end.

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First, a comment on the medium. Your post would probably fit better as a blog entry, to which you could link to start a debate (and perhaps explain in a nutshell). That way I believe you'll find more people will enter the discussion.

That's good advice. I neglected the option of writing a blog post with a link because when I started I was just thinking about these three ideas -- how stories start and stop, the relationship of narrative to tension, and how Rand figures it all out in Veins of Gold -- and decided to write something about them, expecting not too much to come of it. And it was like I was opening a stasis box expecting some mild mannered Zomara and instead finding a Jumara.

 

Now, I have to say I think what you suggest is fascinating. My position though is that it isn't a question of either/or. TWoT is primarily a story about Rand's struggle with the Shadow, but that's not all that it is. The part about his learning the meaning of it all, or the right way to live, is at an end as of VoG. But the part about the struggle to free humankind from the Shadow isn't. Nor are the stories of countless characters, all of whom TWoT follows closely.

Now let me see. I have purposely pushed the argument as far as I could to make out the WOT as the Dragon's story of redemption, so I will continue that here. The story of the Dragon is embedded in the story of humanity's struggle against the Shadow. His attempt to protect those he cares about is directly connected to this struggle, and I think that the reader naturally expects to hear the end of this story as well, and the reason is that the Dragon is the leader of this struggle. But I think that it is curious that we assume that he has to win this struggle. I don't think that is obvious at all, even though we as readers of fantasy expect the happy ending. But I think that at this point the Dragon "wins" now matter what happens.

 

I know that's not entirely clear. But I'm not sure I have enough time at the moment to make it clear. There are ways of dying that aren't losing. This is what the Aiel mean by embracing death. If the Dark One destroys the Pattern but humanity dies "spitting in Sightblinder's eye" -- dies without despair -- then even if we don't have a happy ending precisely, it's not so clear that humanity loses. As Rand recognizes after "A Storm of Light," the Dark One wants humanity to despair, to respond as the Dragon did the first time. If the WOT ended this way, it would certainly be a highly unusual ending to a fantasy novel. It would be a very ambiguous ending. But in no way would I think we would have to say that the Dragon failed. The Dragon will not have failed in those circumstances any more than Rodel Ituralde would have failed in his war against the Seanchan: he was completely overmatched, but he did not despair, and he even performed brilliantly. Only the outcome was out of his hands. And this is not a bad sort of story.

 

So, yes, we do want to know what happens to all these different threads. But what I am saying is that the main thread is set, and it is woven into victory.

 

Sorry I can't respond to the LotR analogy. Just too little time here at work to get to it.

 

The dragon has come to terms with who he is and what he's done in the past. Maybe I don't understand your meaning for "redeemed" but it seemed to me that he would get redemption (so to speak) when he would correct his past blunders and recreate the prison.

I think that you're right that the Dragon has some particular issues to take care of (see below, on the taint), but sealing the Dark One's prison isn't one of those issues. If this were Lanfear or Beidoman's story, then redemption might be tied to recreating the prison. But the Dragon didn't create the prison. His redemption lies in doing everything he can to protect those in his care without "breaking" under the weight of the mountain of duty in despair, as he did before.

 

First of all, excellent post.

 

A well thought out theory.

Thanks!

 

In part, I agree. A huge part of the story is over, definitely. But I still believe that the MAIN story has always been the Light V Shadow, rather than LTT redemption.

 

I also agree with Aquarius. LTT has realised his mistakes, but thats only half of it. He must actually fix those msitakes to complete his "redemption" (if that is the right word).

 

So, yeah, a big part has been finished, but its like this : Rand is in a fight. For a while he has been looking for his sword. VOG he found the sword. But he still has to pick it up and use it to cut down his enemy (the DO)

 

Even with that analogy, Rand hasnt really found the "sword". he still needs to figure out how to seal the prison. I understand your arguement against the importance of that, but the correct sealing, to me, has not just been a minor point, but the major thing. If we are talking about LTT redemption. THe correct sealing is a very big part of that.

 

Last time the sealing forced him and male channelers to go mad. To "redeem" himself, would it not be logical to assume he would have to find a way to seal the bore without the taint?

See what I just said above, because I think it answers these points. You raise a good point about the taint: I don't agree that the Dragon must seal the prison to redeem himself, because the bore wasn't his responsibility, but the taint is his responsibility, and I think that it was a result of despair. We've all see how impatient Rand has been when people will not go along with his ideas and he thinks it is necessary to do something. This is the same thing that he did as Lews Therin in the Strike at Shayol Ghul, and this is the attitude that he had to repent from. But in admitting that, I would say that Rand has already redeemed himself for his part in that by cleansing the taint and changing his attitude. It's not necessary for him to seal the prison, since that wasn't his fault; he only needs to do everything he can to defeat the Dark One, that is, to embrace death and "spit in Sightblinder's eye on the last day." The outcome is out of his hands.

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I very much agree with all this.

 

I'll go a bit further though, and say a few things about what I think that being the Dragon means. Basically, as the original post says, Rand's story arc is essentially to make a better choice than he did in the previous age; everything else is epilogue to some extent. But to go one further, the Dark One's plot is over and failed. All he has left at this point is to try to kill as many people as he can before he gets bottled up again.

 

Everything that the Dark One has done since the Forsaken started to become free has been with the goal of causing Rand to fall to the dark side. The taint, driving him insane and cutting away his facility to feel faith, hope and love. Engineering betrayal after betrayal from those around him, influencing even his closest friends against him directly and indirectly. Putting him in a box, putting him on a leash, all done with the intent of breaking him. Had the Dark One wanted Rand to be taken to the Pit of Doom, Semirhage or the Aes Sedai who kidnapped him would have been given more support. Instead, Rand was allowed to free again, harder and darker than before.

 

Everything was engineered to bring Rand to the point of destroying the world. That was the crux of the matter. At that point, the fate of everything that is, that ever was, and that ever would be balanced on the decision that Rand made, and the possibility for victory for the Dark One became real. Most crucially, Rand was brought to the point where he could fully intellectually and emotionally understand Moridin's position.

 

That brings up my theory. The Dragon is many things. He's a natural leader. He's a master swordsman. His strength and skill in the One Power is unmatched. He's a genius, in multiple fields. He is able to essentially become one of the greatest of all time at everything he turns his hand to. All useful qualities for the soul that the Pattern spins out at its time of greatest need. For all that, I think that the most important quality that the Dragon has is that of all the souls in the world, only the Dragon can fully and completely understand Moridin's point of view and still reject it.

 

In any case: the Last Battle began when Rand met his father again, for the first time in two years. The opening skirmish ended in victory for the Light when Rand rejected Moridin's viewpoint. Once Rand did that, the Dark One sent his troops out, looking to at least hurt a lot of people before the end. With Rand now embracing his proper role and able to see and understand his path, the Dark One's odds of victory are now vanishingly small.

 

The Dragon has to be able to fully encompass everything that the Dark One's champion is, and to be able to move beyond it. On a larger scale, this battle is between the Pattern and the Dark One, and the Pattern cheats. Once Rand embraces what he is and what his role is, the Pattern is essentially free to act through him. The Dark One is left to flail around in a rage while the Pattern corrects itself.

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Everything that the Dark One has done since the Forsaken started to become free has been with the goal of causing Rand to fall to the dark side. The taint, driving him insane and cutting away his facility to feel faith, hope and love. Engineering betrayal after betrayal from those around him, influencing even his closest friends against him directly and indirectly. Putting him in a box, putting him on a leash, all done with the intent of breaking him. Had the Dark One wanted Rand to be taken to the Pit of Doom, Semirhage or the Aes Sedai who kidnapped him would have been given more support. Instead, Rand was allowed to free again, harder and darker than before.

I agree with this, and think if you do not understand this point, then you will be unable to understand the actions of the Dark One at all. We often complain about the stupidity of the Dark Siders, who get themselves killed off right and left, while ignoring that Jordan said that pretty much from the beginning up through Knife of Dreams, the Dark One has been winning. Winning decisively. Yes, the Forsaken are foolish. The Dark One "chose" most of them because they were easy to manipulate. Moridin alone succeeds in his plans, while the rest fall in their idiocy. What we ignore is that the Dark One is sacrificing them on purpose. Towards what purpose? Turning Rand. Turning Rand is the only thing that matters because it is the only way for the Dark One to achieve his goal. Read the WOT with this in mind, and the Dark One doesn't seem so foolish, and Moridin's protection of Rand no longer provides repeated di ex machina but rather masterful manipulation.

 

In any case: the Last Battle began when Rand met his father again, for the first time in two years. The opening skirmish ended in victory for the Light when Rand rejected Moridin's viewpoint. Once Rand did that, the Dark One sent his troops out, looking to at least hurt a lot of people before the end. With Rand now embracing his proper role and able to see and understand his path, the Dark One's odds of victory are now vanishingly small.

 

The Dragon has to be able to fully encompass everything that the Dark One's champion is, and to be able to move beyond it. On a larger scale, this battle is between the Pattern and the Dark One, and the Pattern cheats. Once Rand embraces what he is and what his role is, the Pattern is essentially free to act through him. The Dark One is left to flail around in a rage while the Pattern corrects itself.

I know that Luckers has written a post arguing that the Creator is actually weaker than the Dark One, but I think that in fact the Dark One is almost entirely impotent. His primary power is to corrupt human beings so that they will help him destroy the Pattern, and even that required human assistance, drilling the Bore. He needs human agents who act within the Pattern, and only when his agents damage the Pattern can he begin to act on it himself. Even then his power seems limited. Oooh, you randomly moved a bit of the White Tower. Scary! It is the Dark One, not Demandred, who really loves acting through proxies. Destroying the Pattern outright appears to be impossible for him without coopting the Dragon.

Edited by Pygmalion79
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That's taking it a bit too far, I feel. As per Moridin's Sha'rah analogy, there is a path to victory which involves the utter annihilation of your opponent. Moridin has once failed (embarrassingly) in attempting that method. A foreshadowing?

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I do believe authors are supposed to keep the promises they make to the reader in the beginning. But I don't believe that the prologue of tEoTW can be written off as useless to the main plot.

 

Ishamael mentions the cycle of the wheel in the prologue, though we don't yet know what it is:

 

"Ten years! You pitiful fool! This war has not lasted ten years, but since the beginning of time. You and I have fought a thousand battles with the turning of the Wheel, a thousand times a thousand, and we will fight until time dies and the Shadow is triumphant!"

 

Also, later:

 

"You cannot escape so easily, Dragon. It is not done between us. It will not be done until the end of time."

 

Which, if you look at it that way, says that the series won't be over until there's a resolution between Rand and Moridin.

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On another note, was Rand's epiphany the "memory of light?" We get two books afterward because there was too much to sort out in a single volume, but I would guess that the Veins of Gold revelation was the inspiration for the title of the last book.

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On another note, was Rand's epiphany the "memory of light?" We get two books afterward because there was too much to sort out in a single volume, but I would guess that the Veins of Gold revelation was the inspiration for the title of the last book.

 

I think that that's the most likely case.

 

I am holding out a bit of hope that the memory of light is one of Lanfear's, from before she and Lews Therin broke up, some moment of happiness that will help sway her to help Rand at a critical moment.

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That's taking it a bit too far, I feel. As per Moridin's Sha'rah analogy, there is a path to victory which involves the utter annihilation of your opponent. Moridin has once failed (embarrassingly) in attempting that method. A foreshadowing?

I'll have to think about that. I'm trying to push the argument as hard as I can here. I'm not yet sure of the theory's limits, so my strategy is to go all the way and see where I have to draw back. In that vein, what if Moridin's analogy is wrong? I am slow to trust his view of things. He is our best authority on the metaphysics of the WOT, but his outlook is supposed to be twisted at the base, which makes him a less than reliable guide.

 

I do believe authors are supposed to keep the promises they make to the reader in the beginning. But I don't believe that the prologue of tEoTW can be written off as useless to the main plot.

You misunderstood. I played with the idea that the prologue was inconsequential, but my final position was that it was the true beginning of the series. I would even argue that the Prologue is, along with Veins of Gold, one of the most important chapters in the book.

 

On another note, was Rand's epiphany the "memory of light?" We get two books afterward because there was too much to sort out in a single volume, but I would guess that the Veins of Gold revelation was the inspiration for the title of the last book.

Right now I tend to think yes, but there might be more to this.

 

Pygmalion79, what a great post. Very thoughtful, deep analysis based on the mechanics of the story. Thank you.

Thanks!

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actually the story was over in book 3.

 

The way Elan Morin Tedronai who was the equal of the dragon got his ass kicked by a shepherder was so jarring. It confirmed only one thing.

 

no matter how bad things may see in the wheel of time. no matter how our boys and girls are against seemingly overwhelming odds, no matter how many times the baddies have their backs to the wall, in the end the good guys always win.

 

yeah so all that rage and anger in rand in TGS was just smoke and mirror. Never once did i actually think the guy was going to destroy the pattern. Just dramatic affect. Shaitan or his cronies never had a chance. Never.

 

anyways the only thing now is how the bore is going to be sealed.

 

It'spretty obvious the bore will be sealed by pushing the dark one back through the bore allowing the pattern to self heal.How that happens is anyone's guess. But the series has lost the element of suprise long time ago. You do get the occasional WTF moments like verin. But in the grand scheme of things, everything has been decided long ago.

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actually the story was over in book 3.

 

The way Elan Morin Tedronai who was the equal of the dragon got his ass kicked by a shepherder was so jarring. It confirmed only one thing.

 

no matter how bad things may see in the wheel of time. no matter how our boys and girls are against seemingly overwhelming odds, no matter how many times the baddies have their backs to the wall, in the end the good guys always win.

LOL actually I'd say that was established when Rand killed Aginor and saved everyone at Tarwin's Gap at the end of EOTW.

 

However, an advantage of my theory is that there is something none of us knew, which is Rand's mental state going into the Last Battle. I was seriously worried that Jordan was going to have Rand finish the story in a very dark place, barely holding on to the Light and barely defeating the darkness in himself. I sympathized with Rand since he was surrounded by fools who wouldn't do what he wanted -- I thought he was justified in being arrogant with these ninnies -- but if this is how it turned out, then we're looking at a Wolverine-style anti-hero (early 1990's vintage, anyway, which was the last time I read the comic). So I would say that if my theory is right, then the main conclusion of the series is in doubt from about Book 3 until Book 12.

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This is a well thought out theory, but ultimately, I think it is wrong.

 

Ultimately, I think the Prologue and the first few chapters of the book provide the primary tension of the series: the balancing of two seemingly opposing forces in order to overcome evil, the opposition that is most important.

 

The problem with your analysis is that it is too character driven. This series obvious moves with its characters, but the series is thematically driven. Some examples:

 

The symbols throughout the story make it apparent, The Dragon Fang and the Flame of Tar Valon combining to be the original Aes Sedai symbol the most prominent.

 

The gendering throughout the story is prevalent. Men and women must learn to work together because their personalities and functions are often different. Seeing those differences as complimentary rather than in opposition to one another is a common obstacle to overcoming the Shadow. One particularly important gendered duality is the balancing of processes (female) and outcomes (male).

 

On the one hand, Rand constantly struggles with this from a male perspective. He views himself a weapon that must defeat the Shadow at whatever cost. His relationships, emotions, and every aspect of his personal life must be subjugated to that one goal. While he does deal with the madness from the taint, this perspective primarily exacerbates it to the point of breaking. It isn't until he realizes that his myopia is destructive does he reach an epiphany.

 

On the other hand, the Aes Sedai struggle with this from a female perspective. While they should be focusing on conquering the Dark One, they merely focus on their tasks specialized by Ajah. It causes them to lose their way to the absurd point where the Reds might have kept Rand locked up and permanently shielded or even gentled. You can also see this in Egwene's thinking on breaking the seals. She can't bring herself to consider it the proper course of action because it is an action you are not supposed to take.

 

Back to the Prologue, Lews Therin's story and the AoL provides the basis for a dual tiered resolution being necessary. The Aes Sedai of the AoL failed because they thought only to seal the Dark One without coming to agreement and balancing forces. Their "victory" shows the consequences of such an approach. The 3rd Agers are given a second chance to balance male and female in order to achieve a complete victory.

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Guest Emu on the Loose

I agree that from a dramatic perspective the series has entered into its climax with "Veins of Gold," because ultimately this story has always been about Rand's readiness to embrace his destiny. However, I don't agree that the climax is finished yet, and thus I don't agree with your thesis.

 

We've been treated now, apparently, to the resolution of Rand's main internal conflict. You did a good job of illustrating this conflict in your post. You're right that, now, the "mystery" has been solved (even if we aren't privy to the answer yet). You're wrong, however, inasmuch as the Holmes analogy doesn't quite fit the structure of WoT. In Holmes, the climax is the resolution of the mystery. In WoT, Rand's "Veins of Gold" epiphany we may assume now makes the Last Battle "winnable," but it is as integral to the structure of the story that the Last Battle then go on to be won. That's not a dramatic flourish or an extended denouement; it's a structural component of the climax.

 

The best example I can think of in epic fantasy where the dramatic climax of the story is finished well before the back cover is Battlefield Earth (the novel). The extensive space in between the destruction of Psychlo and the last page of the narrative is not even an extended denouement; it's a full-fleshed continuation of life after the story. Contrast that to "Veins of Gold," where most of the major conflicts are still unresolved, except the resolution of Rand's existential conflict. A Memory of Light promises to resolve conflicts and conclude themes which have been introduced throughout the series. If so, the most significant of these events would be quite inextricably a part of the dramatic structure of the climax.

 

Anyhow, this is the best post I've read on here in a while. Kudos!

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Thank you for your wonderful outline here I cannot disagree with your argument as a whole as you have supported your definition well and with that perspective you are right by that view with those criteria. However, I believe that you are looking through a very narrow view of the writing process and the story as a whole and only relaying on one source for your argument. Consider that Orson Scott Card’s argument was introduced and implied for the reasoning of a single or contained Novel and that an Epic or series would challenge these assumptions on several levels. If there is a larger story contained within a series of stories then the larger problem must be introduced and yet tied unanimously to all the sub stories as a whole. Think of the drive behind 1001 knights, each story is self contained and yet the drive of all the stories is the hope that the story teller will live till morning, the conclusion to this is either death or life. These books work in a similar fashion while for the most part each book presents a problem and a resolution within that contained snap shot each book ties back into the larger story as a whole. Meaning that in this case the opening prologue is the setting for the whole story introducing the problem, ‘we have fought this battle a hundred times and will fight it a hundred times again’ (I paraphrase as I do not have the books handy.) So as each book will tie back to this series is tied to a cyclical issue of creation and destruction. So our problem is breaking the cycle stopping the wheel or stopping the repeating of events. Or to put it more bluntly each side is fighting for the outcome of the ‘final’ age. So while Rand is a player in this story he is not the story. He is a vassal for the heralded hero but the story is in fact the wheel and rather or not it will survive. The conclusion will/must be if the Dark one wins and the wheel is destroyed or if the light wins and the wheel is allowed to roll forward.

 

Again I think your argument was a breath of fresh air for the normal theory presented and I appreciate the time and effort you must have put into putting this together.

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