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How the hell do they feed the armies in randland?


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for most armies they just take what they need off the land, ex. they steal from the farmers.

post Rand they mostly have to pay for what they take, and although the army size has increased so has the capabilities of logistics (travelling) so they can go further to feed an army.

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Magic. There's no way such massive forces could possibly feed themselves, particularly when the Dark One's touch is spoiling food all over the Westlands. We also don't see much of an agricultural base in many nations to begin with - according to the descriptions we get in the books most of the land is untamed wilderness and forested areas.

 

IRL medieval armies would pillage the land around them for supplies, but even so they almost always ran short. We usually get a show of the main characters forbidding this practice when they lead armies, which whilst very noble is also highly impractical in a logistical sense.

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Most of the armys aren't really huge until you come to the Seanchan ones and Rand's ones, and also those borderlanders. the borderlanders were really struggling for food, but the Seanchan and Rands armys will have really good supply trains feeding them, Rand's especially can be brought in with Travelling. Suply trains seem to be something not used often in the 3rd age until recently.

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Lol if they take off 1 zero from the total number of people in their respective armies then it would be more believable. Is the Westland so lush that feeding 100,000 people would be so easy?

I've never seen it indicated that it is easy. For those people that doubt the numbers RJ clearly has shown how such vast armies used to be fed. First, I think that we should desensitize ourselves from our way of thinking of what meals consist of and our conception of food. In our modern times we are clearly used to fine dishes and sweets, three meals a day even for our prisoners, and snacks between. We live in bountiful societies with the benefit of preservatives, revolutionary packaging such as tin cans and foil-lined plastic that can keep food fresh for ages.

 

In Randland and the Middle Ages through the Renaissance and beyond, there were few actual foodstuffs. There were grains such as oats, barley, millet, and wheat, there were crops such as beets, turnips, squashes, and onions, then there were meats, either freshly hunted or salted, brine-soaked, smoked, or rendered into sausages both wet and dried large and small. Barrels filled with vinegar or brine kept foods for years such as olives, boiled eggs, and pickles. There were great rounds of cheeses made from the daily production of milk off farms and in cheese-maker's shops. These were made daily, so start thinking how many giant wheels or blocks of cheese you could make if you had a dozen cows that each gave an average of three to five gallons of milk each day between their morning and evening milkings. (Yes, cows are milked twice daily, and I've milked by hand, no machines here!) So we have roughly 45-50 gallons of milk produced each day what will spoil and sour depending on conditions in a day or two, cream from this will go towards making butter, and the rest of the milk itself, towards cheese making. Crops an army would look for aside from the grains are items that will keep for a while such as sacks of dried beans, dried meat, root vegetables and squashes. A wagon load of turnips or potatoes or beets, times many wagons.

 

In past ages, meals were small, and depending on the country even now, certain meals of the day were more important than others. In France breakfast is light to moderate, lunch is light, and dinner is the main meal whereas in Germany lunch is the main meal of the day. I lived in Germany as a kid, and a few years ago worked for a German couple here stateside. It didn't matter if I brought my own lunch, the wife would spend an hour cooking and would lay out quite a spread and they would be offended if I didn't stop work and join them. I was treated more as a guest than a worker. In America, breakfast is big, lunch is moderate, and dinner is big. We are also used to three squares a day, snacks or treats in between or following the meals.

 

In an army, the men were roused and there was no time for cooking in the morning so they had whatever the men had on them, usually tucked away the day before. An apple or some berries, some bit of meat from the night before but mainly a piece of bread. You also didn't want to try marching after eating anything significant, and yes, mostly they marched. Armies made up of all cavalry would be exhausting to feed as grain can only sustain a horse for a few days. Advances in grain cakes and pressing hay into cubes improved the diet and the strength of horses in an army on the march over time. The men didn't usually take a lunch as they marched on, looking forward to their making camp and an evening meal. To be quite frank, their meals consisted of whatever they could find for the pot in the evenings. Outriders and scouts took time to make use of bow or sling to fetch squirrels and rabbits and shared with friends. Each company drew it's day's rations or larger areas were set up that fed larger units like brigades or their equivalent. Unlike modern times, soldiers fought to conquer territories and looted whatever they could find from the dead and from the farms and villages that passed. The soldiers knew their lords didn't care much about them so they tended to look out for themselves and socked away whatever they could eat or trade as they went.

 

Each army worth their salt had a quartermasters corp that was solely responsible for keeping stock of the provisions, issuing equipment and rations. They coordinated with provisioners and merchants in each town and city they passed even remotely near for wagons and wagons of food, raw goods for the smiths and crafts folk that traveled with the army, stores of arrows and weapons, even gave voice declaiming their lord's virtue and the righteousness of their army's cause bringing new recruits into the fold if in friendly territory, more cautiously if not. Scroungers worked for the quartermasters, riding the countryside negotiating with farmers or more likely ransacking farms stealing livestock and what the farmers in rival lords' lands hadn't managed to hide away when news of war hit or word of an army on the march. Even in friendly land armies had all sorts with them and the bad sort tending to let things stick to their fingers, and you cannot discount racism or nationalism in those times. The Roma (gypsies) were welcome nowhere and if found what they had became the property of others. Think of them like the Tinkers in Randland.

 

It is true that an army on the march could replenish their stores and there were hardships, some areas suffered from drought and others from famine but usually people were not so tied to their homes as we are in modern times. Food became scarce, their hungry bellies set their feet on the road moving to other areas, the same as they did to avoid outbreaks of disease and usually wound up spreading it faster than it normally would have spread. As RJ pointed out with the Borderland armies camped in Andor, camped in one spot and not moving, the scroungers had to go further and further and eventually the countryside was eaten bare.

 

So you are looking at a balance of initial provisions an army on the march starts with, provisioning on the march, and an army's numbers growing on the march as RJ so often and skillfully depicted, two armies in close quarters usually meant a battle and the prospects of gleaning a few coins or some other treasures off the dead. The young men sought the glory of war and the women the coins they could earn from paid soldiers sleeping with them or doing their laundry. Hey, just being real here. This was way before women's rights and progression of a patriarchal society. I often pointed out such discrepancies in my Women in Society class to my heavy-handed instructor that taught the class like every women had been oppressed and not a one chose the lives that they lived, claiming women had no power. So I reminded her of the queens and other prominent women that came to rule or ruled through their husbands by seduction and other sheer genius manipulation or by the sword or the book like Joan of Arc.

 

In short, it is entirely possible to amass so many in an army in real life and sustain them with the limited means of food preservation.

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^^That's all very true but you greatly underestimate just how much food an army needs. These are fighting men, they need to be well-fed or they won't have enough strength to fight well. Food cannot be preserved for any length of time due to the Dark One's taint, which just leaves whatever the hunters can scrounge up. Which just won't be enough, particularly if the army just stays in one place and strips the countryside bare. In the biggest case we're talking about hundreds of thousands of men, all of whom will need to eat properly in order to remain in fighting condition. That's a huge number that's hard to wrap one's mind around.

 

Having read through numerous Crusading chronicles over the course of my degree, I find it doubtful that such massive armies could possibly support themselves even if they did strip the countryside bare. "The Gesta Francorum", "The History of the Albigensian Crusade", "The Chronicle of William of Puylaurens" and many others all describe how crusading armies, which often ranged from 10,000 to 30,000 men, were in constant danger of starvation. One of the main reasons why towns and castles did not surrender during the Albigensian Crusade was because the occupants were confident that the beseigers would run out of food before they did.

 

Fantasy authors are notoriously bad at these kind of logistical issues. George R. R. Martin could probably get it right, but nobody else I can think of.

Edited by SuperFade
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The problem is that we keep thinking to ourselves, "There's no way, if that happened here..." And that's the problem. We do not live in Randland. We do not think and incorporate trees bursting with three times their normal yield of apples and recognize a slight balancing against the taint destroying food. RJ made a grand show of how luck works through the series, such as the revelation that they just happened to open all the bad bags of grain on the ships, the entire cargo on each ship was actually good. Warehouses bursting with food were forgotten about due to the owners dying over winter, so on and so forth.

 

There is also a problem with people nay saying things they really know little about. If you haven't marched in an army and haven't studied war and history then it's really harder to realize just what people can get up to. Today we scratch and shake our heads in wonder over the pyramids and how we really couldn't match those feats today. It is amazing how lazy we have become, how overfed we are. People eat the equivalent of a handful of rice and work from first light to sunset day after day all over the world in third world countries. You are welcome to your thoughts of how false this is, but this is doomsday in Randland. As you say, crops are failing, and food already harvested is rotting at the DO's touch. Chaos spreads and once great cities are crumbling. Order is but a memory, and it is up to men now to make a stand. Farmers are turning their scythes and pitchforks into weapons. Hungry people roam the land. There is only the last battle which we have been building towards for a very long time. Everyone is grabbing what they have left of use for food or weapon and marching north. Death is certain, humanity's continuation is not.

 

RJ isn't just any old Fantasy author, he is a graduate of the Citadel, one of it not the best Military Academies in the United States. He also spent a few tours over in Vietnam as a waist gunner on a chopper. So he's seen fighting, death, the horrors of war. He's seen and heard tell of underage, poorly armed, and underfed NVA and VC soldiers marching for days and days to get into position to attack American and South Vietnamese positions only to turn and run back to safety, doing it all on a ball of rice and a piece of fish if the soldier was lucky. Entire supply lines consisting of kids and adults wearing sandals made from discarded American tires carrying heavy packs three times their weight filled with ammunition, food, and weapons over from Cambodia, Laos, all the way from China. If they were lucky they had a bicycle to use to help them.

 

It's easy to call BS on something and discount its possibility, but entire lands have risen up and marched on what they glean from the land to do great things. Our oral histories as a human race are filled with such tales as Thermopylae where 300 men (plus 7000 greeks) stood against the combined army of Xerxes who ruled Persia and much more, said to be a million men but modern historians say as many as 100,000-300,000 are more likely. Alexander the Great traveled with an army that began with 3000 cavalry, surprised another army and added their numbers to his. In short order he had a fleet and an army that exceeded 100,000 men and only grew from there, beginning his real campaign across the known world.

 

Don't think men can do great things? Take a look at the picture of the workers building the high rises in the 1920's and 1930's sitting on steel girders eating lunch without so much as a rope tied on hundreds of feet in the air. Think of how fast you'd move yourself if someone was snapping at your back with a whip to get you to move a stone into place. Pain motivates. Hunger drives us to search out food.

Edited by Orderofolde
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If you decide to go to College, take a few Sociology and Psychology classes, take some history classes. Things will shift into perspective in ways you wouldn't believe, and what was once impossible becomes more than possible. If people had attitudes like yours, the world would still be flat, and tales of the Forsaken would keep you in bed at night :wink:

 

What does attitude have to do with this. Fine, the food may last longer, but at the end of the day if you don't have enough food your army will starve to death.

 

The pattern is really starting to annoy me. Free food popping up everywhere, 90% of the characters are happily in love while still fulfilling political nessesity, and many other things. It just seems like an easy way out.

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Orderofolde's posts (except the last sentence) have put in perspective a number of things about feeding the armies of Randland. I think that it is well that the issue is handled in general terms; and it is good we are spared the details of logistics. I could not stand another "So Harbor" chapter! The same goes for the "latrines!" No need to go into that sort of detail every time it is "necessary."

 

A point that Orderofolde's posts reminded me of is how rich Randland is in natural food resources. For about 1000 years, most of the land is empty. There are many rivers (and presumably small lakes). There is a large sea and a larger ocean. Herds of game would not be unheard of in many parts of Randland; and those could be used to feed armies. I think that a large animal (bull or cow) can feed 100 men on the march daily; and that would be a feast! There are the rivers and lakes for fish; and the fruits from forests, etc...

 

The point about the amount of food consumed in today's world compared to medieval times is noteworthy. There are many examples in history where armies marched on minimal rations (starvation level by today's standards); and still fought and won battles. Even from personal experience, when I go on a weight-loss spell, I cut my food consumption to 30% for months and still "function" normally. When push comes to shove, a person can survive on one meal a day for many weeks.

Edited by Theodril
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The same goes for the "latrines!" No need to go into that sort of detail every time it is "necessary."

 

Classic Theodril. Good call, that was a fine RJ moment...

 

Lol ... "Toy, if you must know, I have to go to the necessary ..... I would have never thought to ask." For a rare moment, Tuon dropped her mask, was free of the burdens of her title, and was just a young woman on a date with her fiance.

Edited by Theodril
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Lol if they take off 1 zero from the total number of people in their respective armies then it would be more believable. Is the Westland so lush that feeding 100,000 people would be so easy?

 

There's no way you could feed the hundreds of thousands of Aiel that Rand brought from the waste without supply trains, etc. No land is that lush. It's just a fantasy ficiton convention that we live with. You also don't hear much about human waste disposal.

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they brought he food with them initially, once they stopped moving the would have had to rely a lot on supply trains from Tear. Since Cairhein was low on food itself. But that city will have some food production still. The Aiel probably planted all the crops around their camps once they stopped moving, there is more than just "soldiers" among them, only the shaido had brought the entire clan but the others probably brought the majority of the men, even many "farmers", they may have even brought herds along behind them (slowly).

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The battles of the Napoleonic wars had somewhat similar sizes of forces. The invasion of Russia brought about a similar size army as the Aiel invasion of Cairhien. The armies in Arad Doman before Rand's meddling also seems somewhat similar in size to, say, the forces at Jena-Auerstedt.

 

That is not to say these forces didn't need massive supply lines, and the invasion of Russia epicly failed, but it implies that these kinds of armies WERE possible before the advent of steampower, canned food (okay, it was invented, but not used much) and proper sanitation. And, apart from the gunpowder, I'd say Randland is pretty close to that techlevel. Steamwagons work, if partly, we never hear of outbreaks of cholera or the like, so we're only not sure they're on the edge of canning.

The only truly significant agricultural areas are around the major cities, but that is exactly where the massive Aiel horde has been hanging out (Cairhien, parts to Tyr/Illian, then on to Arad Doman). The bigger question is what the borderlanders did, but presumably they took enough supplies to cross the wastes/grasslands until they reached Andor. Not quite sure it'd work, but maybe they had supply lines for that part. The massive Seanchan armies, again, seem to mostly be in the good areas, and for the rest have proper navies to add supplies.

 

Now the hard part is that the whole world seems to be perishing in fire and war, and food spoils at supposedly insane rates, while crops have basically failed most of the last years (long winter, long summer, too many farmers out soldiering)... but in principle it seems like these kinds of armies might be possible. And of course, once travelling kicked in food only needed to exist somewhere to keep a marching army somewhat fed.

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The historical overview is missing at least one really big thing. See if anyone can figure it out (it's not obscure).

 

Energy needs charts aren't that far out of whack :) Yes, you can function on a low calorie diet for some time (depending on body composition and other factors), but you can't do it forever, and are almost certain to have psychological and physiological problems after a handful of weeks of that.

 

Aiel aren't so bad, they don't travel as an army, though they do camp as one. Aiel are pretty super-human anyway, as well as practical and adaptive.

 

Since most Rand-land troops don't use the thing I want you to figure out, and going by Perrin's 2lbs of flour, meat and cheese per soldier per day, they must have some sick good suspension on their wagons + magical beasts of burden or they're in trouble. I think Mat's trek south in LoC was more realistic (supply train that included river barges), Rand's forces after that have gateway access. The Salidar group has plenty of mentions of supply/logistics issues, and others do as well.

 

Off the top of my head, RJ at least gave these matters some thought, but didn't let them get in the way of what he wanted to happen too much either.

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People often forget that armies carried food differently to todays standards. You don't have a salad; a selection of fine vegetables and a good bottle of wine. You had a bag of dried beans/legumes, a bag of flour and a bag of jerky. If a horse died on the march it was quickly butchered given to men to carry where it was dried and prepared in the evenings camp; ditto with any farm they came across... butchered and prepared. Also you ate *everything* of the animal - even the marrow in the bones.

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pottage that plus is what the majority of europe used to live off their entire lives; its also very easy to make, keeps for days. It is also something which can be made out of dried or stolen ingredients once a week by a group of men and then carried for the week.

 

Providng your army is supplied with a wagon train once a week of dried grains/flours and you were lucky with game/stealing from farmers you can live off the land surprisingly well. It is only a modern invention that you supply *everything* to the front line. I'm not saying RJ wrote everything down perfectly but concepts we take for granted (such as ready prepared meals in a tin) will be unknown to the majority of soliders duing this time.

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I always thought the opposite. When I found Robert Jordan I also found Colleen McCullough's Masters of Rome series. Romans in the late Republic routinely sent 10s of thousands of troops around. They had excellent supply trains sure. They also grew most of their grain from Sicily in the late Republic. But when they needed to, they could forage off the land, even land that wasn't agriculutural. Take the lead up to the Battle of Pharsalus, a battle of 80k troops or so.

 

"Pompey gained enough land for forage. Caesar's ninth legion was engaged in a fight for a hill. Retreat was tough for both sides since the terrain had been so altered. But still Pompey's army could be supplied and Caesar soon ran out of food. His men now made a kind of bread from mixing chara root with milk. Making loaves of this, they would throw them at Pompey's lines to show them that nothing could stop Caesar's legions. When Pompey learned of this, he kept word of it from his troops. He equated this to fighting wild beasts.'

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The real question is, what the bloody hell the Trollocs are eating in the Blight allowing millions of them to breed and flourish!?!?!?!

 

At twice the size of a man, they have to eat twice as much. They have to have Trolloc farmers or herders because there aren't enough humans in the borderlands to eat for generations.

 

Think about that.

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The real question is, what the bloody hell the Trollocs are eating in the Blight allowing millions of them to breed and flourish!?!?!?!

 

At twice the size of a man, they have to eat twice as much. They have to have Trolloc farmers or herders because there aren't enough humans in the borderlands to eat for generations.

 

Think about that.

 

I figure they can just go into torpor anytime they aren't in use. Still they must have amazing feed to weight conversion. Modern chickens are at 2 to 1.

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The real question is, what the bloody hell the Trollocs are eating in the Blight allowing millions of them to breed and flourish!?!?!?!

 

At twice the size of a man, they have to eat twice as much. They have to have Trolloc farmers or herders because there aren't enough humans in the borderlands to eat for generations.

 

Think about that.

 

I figure they can just go into torpor anytime they aren't in use. Still they must have amazing feed to weight conversion. Modern chickens are at 2 to 1.

 

Torpor?

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The real question is, what the bloody hell the Trollocs are eating in the Blight allowing millions of them to breed and flourish!?!?!?!

 

At twice the size of a man, they have to eat twice as much. They have to have Trolloc farmers or herders because there aren't enough humans in the borderlands to eat for generations.

 

Think about that.

 

I figure they can just go into torpor anytime they aren't in use. Still they must have amazing feed to weight conversion. Modern chickens are at 2 to 1.

 

Torpor?

 

semi hibernation. Or they hatch real quick and can be grown with the DO's energy. Kinda like Uruk-Hai. Or Blight Plants are just that much more nutritious.

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The real question is, what the bloody hell the Trollocs are eating in the Blight allowing millions of them to breed and flourish!?!?!?!

 

At twice the size of a man, they have to eat twice as much. They have to have Trolloc farmers or herders because there aren't enough humans in the borderlands to eat for generations.

 

Think about that.

 

I figure they can just go into torpor anytime they aren't in use. Still they must have amazing feed to weight conversion. Modern chickens are at 2 to 1.

 

Torpor?

 

semi hibernation. Or they hatch real quick and can be grown with the DO's energy. Kinda like Uruk-Hai. Or Blight Plants are just that much more nutritious.

 

Yea I looked it up and figured it out. I find it hard to believe of bloodlusting creatures. Mabe they eat each other, but then how do they breed so quick. I guess they breed like rabits?

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Yea I looked it up and figured it out. I find it hard to believe of bloodlusting creatures. Mabe they eat each other, but then how do they breed so quick. I guess they breed like rabits?

 

We haven't seen female trollocs. Maybe there's a queen trolloc somewhere. The force that Perrin and the Whitecloaks killed were given to Graendal to "sow chaos" and presumably they just sat around somewhere while she schemed in Natrin's Barrow. Thats why I figure they just hibernate til needed. That's too big a force to have been eating without someone noticing or their numbers being depleted in the case of cannibalism.

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