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DRAGONMOUNT

A WHEEL OF TIME COMMUNITY

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Honestly - are we just going to not count Sanderson as canon now? Why are we even bothering to talk about this chapter then?

 

@Sid - Fain never got to see Turak when there was someone around for him to plot against, and we never got Turak's internal PoV to really know how sincere his awe for the Empress was. Then again, maybe she made him stand in front of the Crystal Throne for six months before he left to ensure his loyalty.

 

I guess we read that passage with Fain and Turak completely differently then. Fain has a real knack for reading people. He sees their weaknesses and plants seeds of dissension to work himself into their good graces, or those of their superiors. He's done this with at least one other very formidable person in Pedron Niall. Elaida was probably child's play for him. Yet when he's about to reinforce Turak's own musings on how sounding the horn could make him look like he wants to be the leader of the Seanchan Empire, he stops himself. He sees that Turak really means what he says, though Fain can scarcely believe it. I'm taking Turak's words at face value here.

 

Also, he speaks of plots to gain the Empress's favor, not plots against the Empress herself. Nobody seems to consider plotting against the Empress herself, or even do anything that might be construed as plotting against her. Tuon certainly does not. For her, it's all about contending for favor with the Empress with her sisters and brothers. And she thinks one misstep could have her end up being sold on the block, yet never a thought to becoming the person in control, only for her favor.

 

I guess things are a little open to interpretation, but it doesn't seem right to me.

 

As for 'canon', there's an example in Chapter 11 that's completely false. Mat's memories of good times in the Rahad, which are completely contradictory to every thought he's ever had of the place. Things like that makes you question stuff in recent books that seem to turn something in previous books on its head.

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Turak and Suroth Pov's occur when there is an Empress on the Crystal Throne, a large imperial family, the might of the Ever Victorious Army and the power of the Seekers. Galgan only has Fortuona as a rival. One mishap places him on the throne of the Seanchan diaspora.

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Neo, beyond what others have already said (in particular Luckers and Sid), there are two things I'd like to point out. The first is the fact that, when Tuon considers the possibility of Mat being part of a plot against her, the ones she suspect are her brothers and sisters and them alone (BTW, that's who Suroth considered as well). That's the way of it: the imperial family do scheme against each other -- competing for the Empress's favor as they see it -- but outsiders simply don't reach in. And, the Empress herself might be beyond even that, as Tuon herself got rid of several competitors, but has never even considered doing away with her mother.

 

The second, to complement what Sid said of Fain, is to quote Suroth's reaction to Semirhage's proposal:

"Better," Semirhage murmured. "Now. How would you like to rule in these lands? A handful of deaths-Galgan and a few others-and you could manage to name yourself Empress, with my help. It's hardly important, but circumstances provide the opportunity, and you would certainly be more amenable than the current Empress has been so far."

Suroth's stomach clenched. She feared she might vomit. "Great Mistress," she said dully, "the penalty for that is to be taken before the true Empress, may she live forever, and have your entire skin removed, great care being taken to keep you alive. After that-"

"Inventive, if primitive," Semirhage broke in wryly. "But of no account. The Empress Radhanan is dead. Remarkable how much blood there is in a human body. Enough to cover the whole Crystal Throne. Take the offer, Suroth. I will not make it again. You will make certain matters slightly more convenient, but not enough for me to put myself out a second time."

Suroth had to make herself breathe. "Then Tuon is the Empress, may she live...." Tuon would take a new name, rarely to be spoken outside the Imperial family. The Empress was the Empress, might she live forever. Wrapping her arms around herself, Suroth began to sob, shaking beyond her ability to stop. Almandaragal lifted his head and whined at her interrogatively.

Semirhage laughed, the music of deep gongs. "Grief for Radhanan, Suroth, or is your dislike of Tuon becoming Empress so deep?"

Haltingly, in spurts of three or four words broken by unmanageable weeping, Suroth explained. As the proclaimed heir, Tuon had become Empress the moment her mother died. Except, if her mother had been assassinated, then it must have been arranged by one of her sisters, which meant that Tuon herself was surely dead. And none of that made the slightest difference. The forms would be carried out. She would have to return to Seandar and apologize for Tuon's death, for the death of an Empress, now, to the very woman who had arranged it. Who would, of course, not take the throne until Tuon's death was announced. She could not bring herself to admit that she would kill herself first; it was too shaming to say aloud. Words died as howling sobs racked her. She did not want to die. She had been promised she would live forever!

This time, Semirhage's laughter was so shocking that it shut off Suroth's tears. That head of fire was thrown back, emitting great peals of mirth. At last she regained control, wiping away tears of flame with fiery fingers. "I see I didn't make myself clear. Radhanan is dead, and her daughters, and her sons, and half the Imperial Court, as well. There is no Imperial family except for Tuon. There is no Empire. Seandar is in the hands of rioters and looters, and so are a dozen other cities. At least fifty nobles are contending for the throne, with armies in the field. There is war from the Aldael Mountains to Salaking. Which is why you will be perfectly safe in disposing of Tuon and proclaiming yourself Empress. I've even arranged for a ship, which should arrive soon, to bring word of the disaster." She laughed again, and said something strange. "Let the lord of chaos rule."

Suroth gaped at the other woman in spite of herself. The Empire...destroyed? Semirhage had killed the...? Assassination was not unknown among the Blood, High or low, nor within the Imperial family, yet for anyone else to reach inside the Imperial family in that way was horrifying, unthinkable. Even one of the Da'concion, the Chosen Ones.

[...]

"Great Mistress, if Tuon really is alive, then...then killing her will be difficult." She had to force those words out. To kill the Empress.... Even thinking it was difficult. To become Empress. Her head felt as if it might float off her shoulders.

I think this says it all.

Edited by yoniy0

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Mother's milk in a bloody flaming ashy cup. It's pretty hard to talk myself into harmonizing all of that now that it's front and center. Especially Suroth's PoV, though I'm still not sure how dependable she is. She always felt a little unstable to me.

 

I wonder if Galgan counts as Imperial family now, since Tuon has no children and basically all her family back in Seanchan were killed? That's the last way left to harmonize this, I think.

 

And I really would like to harmonize it, for reasons other than just being a Sanderson apologist. If Fortuona is now completely immune to any and all plotting from within Seanchan, her story just got snoringly boring, not to mention the entire Seanchan culture is a little less interesting to me now. I had always assumed (yes, even way back pre-Sanderson) that the awe displayed for the Empress and the Imperial family in public could be discarded behind the scenes by the mighty. Tuon's wariness in Randland, where none of her family were present to challenge her, seemed to confirm that to me.

 

But I do have to admit, some bloody good points have been made here. Blood and bloody ashes. Maybe we really can't take Sanderson as canon, and the Wheel of Time was broken in 2007. All hail Shai'tan.

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Or maybe, as has been implied, Tuon will not have the perfect reverence of her people until she sits in the Crystal Throne.

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Or maybe, as has been implied, Tuon will not have the perfect reverence of her people until she sits in the Crystal Throne.

 

Except that the Crystal Throne doesn't appear anywhere in her thoughts. She doesn't think "all would have considered killing her, until she sat on the Crystal Throne."

 

And why the need to reconquer Seanchan? If she is the revered Empress, whom none of the Blood can even consider betraying, then just go sit on the Crystal Throne and start giving orders. It should have taken her ten minutes after discovering Traveling to go reunite Seanchan.

 

Or maybe the truth is more complex than that, and Fortuona's thoughts are just our first glimpse in. I don't find Fain's assessment of Turak definitive at all - Turak had every reason to be as deceptive toward Fain as Fain was to him. And Suroth was terrified and on the edge of hysteria when we get her internal thoughts on the matter - I don't really think of that as definitive either. The problem is that while we do have something definitive - Fortuona's thoughts on ToM - we don't have them from an author we can trust, which frankly poisons the well on this whole topic, to me.

Edited by Neophyte

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I agree, without the crystal throne, Tuon's at a huge disadvantage.

 

Everything we know about the royal family and high blood screams of assassination attempts. Tuon and her siblings try to kill each other (and sometimes succeed) and this is considered normal. Rebellions and uprisings are pretty frequent in Seanchan. Neo's quote - on the heights, all paths are marked with daggers - just reinforces that it's even worse at the top.

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Fain had nothing to gain or lose in his assessment, and thus I regard it as untainted by prejudice, and furthermore he has shown himself as being of keen insight. Suroth was on the edge of hysteria BECAUSE of thoughts against the Imperial family, and thus dismissing her thoughts against the imperial family on the basis of their hysteria is not viable. Many characters reference their cultural reverence for Tuon as a member of the Imperial Family pre-Crystal Throne, so that is out too.

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Fain had nothing to gain or lose in his assessment, and thus I regard it as untainted by prejudice, and furthermore he has shown himself as being of keen insight. Suroth was on the edge of hysteria BECAUSE of thoughts against the Imperial family, and thus dismissing her thoughts against the imperial family on the basis of their hysteria is not viable. Many characters reference their cultural reverence for Tuon as a member of the Imperial Family pre-Crystal Throne, so that is out too.

 

I'm not saying that Fain was tainted by prejudice, I'm just saying that I think he could have been wrong - as even those of keen insight occasionally are. And Suroth was on the edge of hysteria long before that particular encounter with Semirhage. Suroth also seems to have limited insight into how things actually work with the Imperial family - she's shocked by what Tuon allows from her Truthspeaker, for instance. And for all her corruption, Suroth was always a bit ... naive - she never really came to any power through her own machinations, she was just the beneficiary of circumstance after Falme.

 

But this is the kind of argument that we end up with when we're dealing not only with unreliable characters (and every character is unreliable in some ways) but unreliable or inconsistent authorial interpretations of unreliable characters. I guess what I'm saying is "Uncle," "Peace," and "I give." I'm not completely convinced - either by my own arguments or anyone else's on this particular issue - so I'm just going to let it drop.

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Suppose for a moment that in the midst of killing all of the Imperial family in Seanchan that Semirhage planted the rumor that Tuon was dead, and thus the entire ruling family is gone. Ergo, no family with the awe of the Throne backing it up to overcome. Does that change anything? Semirhage was the one who arranged for the news of the death of the Empress to arrive in Randland, it's not a stretch to think she'd have done the reverse to improve the potential amount of chaos.

 

Suppose, in light of that, that some lesser lord or lady has control of the Throne now. Does that complicate Tuon's task in trying to take Seanchan back? If she and others gate into the Throne room and said lord or lady is on the throne and speaks, will they stop trying to kill or remove him or her? Or perhaps Semirhage destroyed the Throne itself. I have no idea. But having no Throne would throw Seanchan into chaos all on its own.

 

The Throne strikes me very much as something that you have to be in the presence of for it to have any effect. Just sitting on it doesn't effect the awe that allows you to command people 1000 miles away. All of the High Blood have been in the presence of the Empress and thus been around her while she was on the Throne. Probably a decent number of the not so High Blood. That explains their reticence to attack the Empress' family. As for the rest, they are so heavily conditioned by hundreds of years of subservience that they have a hard time overcoming it. If you remove the only true stabilizing influence, the plots between the Blood against each other would magnify 10-fold if not more. Add in the invasion by the red-sailed fleet and the lack of a decent sized portion of the army and some of their best commanders, and you have the makings of utter mayhem. Mayhem that not even the reappearance of the heir apparent could likely quell in a short amount of time.

 

I don't claim it explains all of the possible dissonances (not sure that is possible, between the problems already inherent in RJ's work and those Brandon has added to the mix), but it's a very easy situation to imagine given what we know of what did happen and who was involved and what the purpose of it is. My two cents, for whatever it is worth. I will not join in the discussions of whether Brandon is doing a good or fair job or not; I just wanted to throw in a possible explanation.

 

As a final aside, I think if sitting on the Throne was all it needed to make one undisputed ruler of Seanchan whom no one will attack, one of the Forsaken would have done it. There has to be more to it than that.

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My take on the Crystal Throne in terms of Seanchan unity:

 

The Ruler of Seanchan sits in the throne, is revered by all, everyone is brought under their rule, and eventually it is secured. Over time, it serves to reinforce how people view this ruler or whomever takes over as ruler (the previous ruler's favored one). Obviously not everyone in Seanchan has seen the Empress on the Crystal Throne, but ones that have hold sway over everyone that hasn't, so the reverence filters down from members of the High Blood to the meanest stable hand. Centuries pass, and this notion of how the Empress and Imperial Family is viewed is ingrained in every fiber of every member of Seanchan's society's being, from father to son, from mother to daughter, etc., etc. Now that the current Empress has died, that automatically transfers to the favored one, Tuon, (or whichever sister killed both of them) as is evidenced by Suroth's thoughts that yoniy0 quoted earlier. If Tuon is dead, which she must be for one of her sisters to do the unthinkable, then it is this Sister she must apologize to. She has not seen this other daughter on the throne, yet she doesn't even consider raising her hand against this person. It took Suroth being an overambitious Darkfriend and prodding from one of the Chosen standing right in front of her appearing as a god-like figure herself to get her on board with the fact that it could actually work, even though literally one teenaged girl's life stood in her way from seizing power.

 

The fact that the Crystal Throne is far away actually reinforces that nobody would go above themselves the way Galgan has (he is not even a member of the Imperial Family yet as of the end of ToM). There's no way that anyone could use it to alter everyone's view of Fortuona's absolute rule. Plotting against the Empress even in a manner that people could see had no chance of success would result in some very perturbed Deathwatch Guards, who happen to be property of the Empress, and were fairly keen on Fortuona's safety even before she was Empress.

 

If the Crystal Throne was destroyed today, and they could never use it again, it would still take a lot longer than a month or two for the Seanchan society to change enough that people would sidestep how things have worked for nearly 1000 years. I would think it would take several years, and perhaps generations for the indirect influence of the Crystal Throne to subside. That of course could change with Fortuona's exposure as a channeler and/or the revelation that sul'dam can be leashed. But those things haven't happened yet.

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Which is why I suggested that Semirhage planted the story that Tuon also was dead, leaving no one of the Imperial family alive and the throne up for grabs. The Blood all scheme against each other as it is. I have no trouble at all envisioning total chaos erupting in a very short amount of time if that happened, as anyone with some standing and enough ambition would make a grab for the throne.

 

When you have absolute authority and then you remove the source of that authority entirely, people tend to go completely nuts.

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If the prologue is about the attack on Caemlyn I doubt it is still happening by Chapter 11. It is likely over by then.

 

Also, Matt is not with Moraine or Thom, so that whole thing is over and done with. Which likely means, by this point the big meeting is over, the attack on the WT may have happened already and the demands of Rand are known to all. Moraine is likely with Rand and Thom at this point in the story.

 

So Matt is likely going to this place to speak directly to his wife to see what he can fish out of her, or stop her altogether from continuing down this course. That is my theory anyway.

 

Loved the read. Can't wait to read this whole thing. The prologue was fantastic, and this chapter 11 .. 2 pages of material is great also.

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Which is why I suggested that Semirhage planted the story that Tuon also was dead, leaving no one of the Imperial family alive and the throne up for grabs. The Blood all scheme against each other as it is. I have no trouble at all envisioning total chaos erupting in a very short amount of time if that happened, as anyone with some standing and enough ambition would make a grab for the throne.

 

When you have absolute authority and then you remove the source of that authority entirely, people tend to go completely nuts.

 

This, plus the fact that however reluctantly and however much encouragement was needed Suroth did think about assassinating Tuon, which shows that it's not impossible.

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The biggest problem in chapter 11 is that I don't know whether the innkeep's apron is clean or dirty and whether she's plump or skinny. Blood and ashes, how am I to judge whether she's trustworthy?

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The biggest problem I have is that when I keep seeing references to "Chapter 11," an inn, and a lot of government oversight, I'm thinking the inkeeper is in the midst of a Bankruptcy "restructuring."

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i don't understand why people think suroth's pov means she is in awe of the empress. she says she is afraid to die and probably believes plotting, let alone succeding, to kill tuon would mean her [suroth's] deathm regardless of what semi said.

 

additionally, fain has become much more powerful than he was when he saw turak. he might not have been able to manipulate turak the way he could naill or elaida or even read turak correctly

 

another thing: if i recall correctly, shortly before SH took her, greandal was musing about how she will have to drop the plans she started with the seanchan after semi's death if she flees. could there be compulsion on galgan?

 

does anything i said make sense or have we all decided that the final 3 books are a giant fanfic?

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i don't understand why people think suroth's pov means she is in awe of the empress. she says she is afraid to die and probably believes plotting, let alone succeding, to kill tuon would mean her [suroth's] deathm regardless of what semi said.

 

additionally, fain has become much more powerful than he was when he saw turak. he might not have been able to manipulate turak the way he could naill or elaida or even read turak correctly

 

another thing: if i recall correctly, shortly before SH took her, greandal was musing about how she will have to drop the plans she started with the seanchan after semi's death if she flees. could there be compulsion on galgan?

 

does anything i said make sense or have we all decided that the final 3 books are a giant fanfic?

I think there is probably a bit of awe, on suroth's part, of the empress, but I agree completely with your other two points: Fain was weaker back then and Graendal was planning to drop her plans before SH showed up to punish her.

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i don't understand why people think suroth's pov means she is in awe of the empress.

Because she said so

Assassination was not unknown among the Blood, High or low, nor within the Imperial family, yet for anyone else to reach inside the Imperial family in that way was horrifying, unthinkable. Even one of the Da'concion, the Chosen Ones.

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i don't understand why people think suroth's pov means she is in awe of the empress.

Because she said so

Assassination was not unknown among the Blood, High or low, nor within the Imperial family, yet for anyone else to reach inside the Imperial family in that way was horrifying, unthinkable. Even one of the Da'concion, the Chosen Ones.

no, she calls it "unthinkable". it could be "unthinkable" because it means your death is assured. she mentions nothing about her own feelings in that internal monologue other than saying she does not want to die.

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rereading it, what is unthinkable is someone outside the blood/high blood/imperial family to attempt the assassination. galgan planning an assassination is not unthinkable

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i don't understand why people think suroth's pov means she is in awe of the empress.

Because she said so

Assassination was not unknown among the Blood, High or low, nor within the Imperial family, yet for anyone else to reach inside the Imperial family in that way was horrifying, unthinkable. Even one of the Da'concion, the Chosen Ones.

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i don't understand why people think suroth's pov means she is in awe of the empress.

Because she said so

Assassination was not unknown among the Blood, High or low, nor within the Imperial family, yet for anyone else to reach inside the Imperial family in that way was horrifying, unthinkable. Even one of the Da'concion, the Chosen Ones.

no, she calls it "unthinkable". it could be "unthinkable" because it means your death is assured. she mentions nothing about her own feelings in that internal monologue other than saying she does not want to die.

 

Take it in context with the passage and her own thoughts are that it is horrifying and unthinkable for anyone outside the blood to reach like that. It's pretty cut and dry in regards to her feelings on the topic.

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