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Snakes and Foxes


Bromo Sapien
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I just finished my re-read of ToM and noticed something a bit odd. In the game of Snakes and Foxes, the player starts in the center and has to reach the outer ring before returning back to the center. Well isn't that backwards? When Olver got back to the center for the second time, Mat reached the edge of the Tower of Ghenjei for the second time and escaped. With the obvious connections between the Tower and the game, is this supposed to reflect Mat being in the Tower, escaping through his wish, and then going back a second time? But then the game would require you to get back to the edge to truly win, as Mat did in the Tower (his last words to the Finn at the end of Ch. 55 reflect that he only won when he escaped, not when he finally got to the Chamber of Bonds).

 

This makes it seem that Randland was seemingly contained within the Tower. Mat didn't reach the outer ring when he got back home but the inner ring. That also explains why the images outside the windows reflect a completely different world than Randland. It's like concentric circles: the outer realm, Sindhol, then Randland.

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This makes it seem that Randland was seemingly contained within the Tower. Mat didn't reach the outer ring when he got back home but the inner ring. That also explains why the images outside the windows reflect a completely different world than Randland. It's like concentric circles: the outer realm, Sindhol, then Randland.

 

It reflects a different world outside the windows because it is. Per RJ Sindhol is a "parallel world" just like the one the Ogier come from.

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I just finished my re-read of ToM and noticed something a bit odd. In the game of Snakes and Foxes, the player starts in the center and has to reach the outer ring before returning back to the center. Well isn't that backwards? When Olver got back to the center for the second time, Mat reached the edge of the Tower of Ghenjei for the second time and escaped. With the obvious connections between the Tower and the game, is this supposed to reflect Mat being in the Tower, escaping through his wish, and then going back a second time? But then the game would require you to get back to the edge to truly win, as Mat did in the Tower (his last words to the Finn at the end of Ch. 55 reflect that he only won when he escaped, not when he finally got to the Chamber of Bonds).

 

This makes it seem that Randland was seemingly contained within the Tower. Mat didn't reach the outer ring when he got back home but the inner ring. That also explains why the images outside the windows reflect a completely different world than Randland. It's like concentric circles: the outer realm, Sindhol, then Randland.

 

I rather like this!

 

As Suttree reminds us, Sindhol is per RJ a parallel world; but there's no reason those worlds shouldn't be arranged concentrically. (Though geometrically that gives me a headache.. :wink::wacko: )

 

Also, I was intrigued by those spires that Mat saw in Aelfinn-land(TSR15), and I did wonder if they corresponded to the ToG in some way - not the spires themselves, but the space between them. So it may be that Mat and co actually reached the centre of Sindhol before exiting the wall of the ToG.

 

As to the timing: it's not clear from the text what time of day it is when they get out. There is mention of the warmth of the fire feeling good, which may mean it's cold because it's after dark.

Edited by FarShainMael
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@msbee very nice find about the time of day. Not sure what BS intended there. It would have certainly be nicely symbolic if Mat's and Olver's victories over the snakes and the foxes happened at the same time. it could be that the time of day pointer you found was unintended.

Edited by herid
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@ herid

Like most people (I assume) I used to be convinced that Olver's game and Mat's exit from ToG were connected, and that it was Peter Ahlstrom who was a little off when he said "... Mat is like three days behind. Black Tower may be further behind." (Twitter 2011).

But recently I've changed my mind. Seems to me that it's just as easy to ascribe the result of the S&F game to the brakedown of the Pattern as anything else.

 

edit -

I agree about the symbolism, but also think it works anyway, even if the two events happen at different times.

And it makes for a great red herring at the same time

Edited by msbee
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@msbee very nice find about the time of day. Not sure what BS intended there. It would have certainly be nicely symbolic if Mat's and Olver's victories over the snakes and the foxes happened at the same time. it could be that the time of day pointer you found was unintended.

 

I took it as driving home a point. We (and Mat et al.) generally assumed that, given all the references to the necessity to cheat to win the game, it was bringing iron/music/etc. that made it possible to beat the Snakes and Foxes. But all that only gave you the same chance you had playing the game by the rules. It was Moridin who cheated to get Lanfear. Mat et al. played by the rules. They only succeeded by Mat's luck bending the odds in their favor. Olver winning the game showed that it is possible to win Snakes and Ladders Foxes without cheating, just extremely unlikely (it would be fairly easy to design a game with 1:1,000,000 odds or worse). (Birgitte's comments on her failed adventure in Finnland drive this home as well.)

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I believe Grady and Perrin were at FoM early (day 833, link below) - he'll pick him up before the main meeting gets going.

Timeline discussions a tricky without a diagram, so here's a link to how I think it goes.

There is no mention of Mat in anything we've read so far, so it's difficult to judge. But that may be because we don't have full chapters yet - only excerpts. Mat may have been and gone again by the time chapter 1 comes around.

You can make a good argument either way I think.

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Mat et al. played by the rules. They only succeeded by Mat's luck bending the odds in their favor.

 

Actually, Mat did cheat - music, light, iron are all against the rules. Birgitte tells Perrin that's how you cheat with the Finn's in TSR somewhere (sorry don't have it to hand). There are other mentions of the terms of the agreement in TOM and elsewhere I think.

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I believe Grady and Perrin were at FoM early (day 833, link below) - he'll pick him up before the main meeting gets going.

Timeline discussions a tricky without a diagram, so here's a link to how I think it goes.

There is no mention of Mat in anything we've read so far, so it's difficult to judge. But that may be because we don't have full chapters yet - only excerpts. Mat may have been and gone again by the time chapter 1 comes around.

You can make a good argument either way I think.

this would take care of some timeline contradictions but this is exceedingly unlikely. None of the characters in chapters 1 and 2 think of Mat, Thom and Moiraine and none of them are around. I find this inconceivable especially given Rand's intention to go to Shayol Ghul the very next day. It's now well known that one of the women with him will be Moiraine. It's much more likely that Peter's comment is a mistake. There is another quote that seems to contradict his.

 

 

Interview: Nov 8th, 2010

 

TOM Signing Report - Ted Herman (Paraphrased)

Ted Herman

 

Regarding timeline in Towers of Midnight, what can you say about how each person's plot arc lined up?

Maria Simons and Alan Romanczuk

 

There was a gap for some of the main story lines for about 1.5-2 weeks of only off-screen activity before the big meetup at Merrilor. Lan's trip from World's End to Tarwin's Gap took 100 days, and it lined him up with the other plotlines at that point. The whole gang can jump right into Tarmon Gai'don!

 

BTW, do you know who made that timeline your linked?

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It seems much too coincidental that Mat's protege finishes the game a few days after Mat leaves the ToG. Mat has the superluck, not Olver. It fits better if there is the symbolism in it. And like Herid said, what has Mat been doing in that time, if the difference is three days? He would have either of two places to go, depending on where Grady is: if he stayed in Whitebridge, Mat would have gone back to the Band via gateway again. There would be no reason for him to stay in Whitebridge and he would want to be with his troops. If Grady went to the FoM with Perrin (the much more likely place, though not explicitly stated), then Mat would be there, likely constrained by the ta'veren pull of the three together again (a la Tear). If Caemlyn was being attacked, he would have been one of the very first in the gateway to lead his men. At the very least, he would be by Talmanes during the healing. It seems most likely that all the timelines matched up at the end and Mat simply came out of the ToG a day before Tarmon Gai'don.

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ok, I just asked Peter on twitter to clarify this and he was kind enough to respond. here is the exchange.

 

 

Herid Fan@heridfan

@PeterAhlstrom you mentioned on twitter that Mat's timeline is 3 days behind FOM at the end of #TOM and at start of #AMOL. is this correct?

 

 

Petie_Chan__3_by_YamPuff_8_normal.pngPeter Ahlstrom@PeterAhlstrom

@heridfan I did say that and it was the best info I had at the time, but now I'm not sure it's correct. I can't be more specific right now.

 

Herid Fan@heridfan

@PeterAhlstrom part of the confusion is that the 3 days gap contradicts a quote by Maria http://www.theorylan...in.php?i=575#11

 

 

 

 

Petie_Chan__3_by_YamPuff_8_normal.pngPeter Ahlstrom@PeterAhlstrom

@heridfan That quote is paraphrased and doesn't address Mat specifically. But I would not now put much stock in my "3 days" statement.

 

 

 

so I wouldn't get hung up on that earlier quote by Peter.

 

edit: @Bromo

 

Grady is at FOM with Perrin.

Rand had heard the stories: Power-wrought weapons discovered again. Perrin’s men were working overtime, running his two Asha’man ragged, to make as many as possible.

--AMOL, ch 1

 

so Mat would have to go through FOM whatever his timeline is.

Edited by herid
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Mat et al. played by the rules. They only succeeded by Mat's luck bending the odds in their favor.

 

Actually, Mat did cheat - music, light, iron are all against the rules. Birgitte tells Perrin that's how you cheat with the Finn's in TSR somewhere (sorry don't have it to hand). There are other mentions of the terms of the agreement in TOM and elsewhere I think.

 

I'm saying the game already accounted for that cheating (it's in the chant you open with). But you still can't win without futher cheating of a sort unmentioned...or without being very, very, very lucky.

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@herid

Such a shame Peter couldn't say for sure!

Thanks for asking though. It would have been nice to fix Mat's timeline one way or the other.

There are quite a few contradictory quotes around - like the one you posted at #13

 

I absolutely see what you're saying regarding Mat's absence from everyone's thoughts, but that is hardly conclusive evidence - especially since we have no idea how Rand plans to position his forces and split the workload. We only have excerpts, so for all we know Mat's, Thom's and Moiraine's whereabouts are explained in some PoV we don't have. And Olver's.

Not 'inconceivable' I don't think.

 

And, I should have been clearer, that timeline is mine (as is the one linked at the top of the spreadsheet)

 

@Bromo Sapien

I don't think we can assume that the ta'veren pull is going to keep the three together at FoM. If the Pattern decides that it is more important for Mat to be elsewhere

then that is where he'll end up.

I'm not sure I understand your point re Talemanes - are you agreeing with me that Mat is not at FoM when Caemlyn news arrives?

 

@Osan'gar's Razor

Oh, I see. Thanks. Guess I agree with you then. :)

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Yes, I don't think Mat is at FoM when Caemlyn news arrives; I think he is still outside the ToG, waiting for Grady's gateway. If Talmanes, his second-in-command and arguably best friend in the Band, is potentially mortally injured, what would prevent Mat from being near him? If the Band, the people who he feels responsible for, is under direct and dire attack, why would he not try and be with them? Mat's defining quality, in my mind, is loyalty (much like Rand=duty and Perrin=...commitment?). If he was there at the FoM, he would be pushing to go through the gateway to support his troops and make sure they save as many as possible. And since he has to be at the FoM due to Grady's position there (thanks herid), he could not have left the ToG between noon the day before the attack on Caemlyn at its beginning, making it feasible and even extremely likely that there is a close chronological connection between Mat escaping and Olver winning.

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@msbee one more point against Mat's POV being 3 days behind. It has been confirmed that Mat's POV in ch 11 is his first POV in AMOL. It would be extremely tricky if he is 3 days behind. Who's POV should show his arrival at FOM and his departure from there? Thom or Moiraine's? They only had very minor POVs in the series thus far. plus plunking it somewhere after everybody is shown at FOM in chapters 1 and 2 would be incredibly confusing to the readers. given the latest comment by Peter it's very clear that Mat's timeline is not 3 days behind.

 

BTW, you didn't answer my question about who made that timeline. Did you make it yourself? It's pretty good but I noticed a couple of problems.

The dragons test happens before VOG because the sky is still cloudy in that scene. same for Mat killing the gholam. The sky is cloudy in that scene too.

Edited by herid
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@ Bromo Sapien

If Mat's ToG exit and Olver's are directly connected, then yes, what you say makes complete sense and is even likely.

 

@herid

For some reason I missed that second tweet from Peter earlier. Did you add it in with your edit? Or did I just miss it?

Reading it, I have to agree that it does change the situation, though it actually doesn't confirm anything one way or the other.

 

Having said that, I don't think dealing with a 3 day (or whatever) delay would be all that tricky, BS has dealt with far bigger differences before now.

I don't think we even need to see Mat arriving or leaving FoM. A flashback, later in ch11, mentioning that Rand sent him on a mission (or whatever) would do it.

Or, Rand talking about his plans to (say) Moiraine in some early chapter, explains how he's already sent Mat to....

Lots of possibilities. We all know there's a lot to get through in this book, so if Mat doesn't have a particular role at FoM, there's no need to show him there.

(Though, just to contradict myself for a minute, I would actually love to see the 3 ta'veren reunited for a scene)

 

As for the timeline, I did answer your question, it's mine.

For the clouds issue, are you assuming that after VoG the sky above Caemlyn is permanently sunny?

By that reasoning, Mat would have had to go to ToG after VoG (since it rains for a few days before he leaves).

Following from that, Perrin (who leaves for FoM on the same day) would have had to fight Slayer and meet Egwene at WT before VoG too, and that would take it to before she is raised Amyrlin. It's just not possible.

Far more reasonable to assume it rains sometimes in Caemlyn.

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@ Bromo Sapien

If Mat's ToG exit and Olver's are directly connected, then yes, what you say makes complete sense and is even likely.

 

@herid

For some reason I missed that second tweet from Peter earlier. Did you add it in with your edit? Or did I just miss it?

sorry, I added the second tweet a bit later after Peter responded to my follow up question.

 

 

As for the timeline, I did answer your question, it's mine.

For the clouds issue, are you assuming that after VoG the sky above Caemlyn is permanently sunny?

yes, I do. It never rains on Rand or his girls after VOG and the sky is always clear above them. and it's specifically mentioned several times that it's always sunny in Caemlyn after VoG. It's a clear plot device and a time marker that BS used to separate the events before and after VOG. He abandoned the other methods that RJ used (moon phases and festivals) and he is often very vague about the exact number of days between various events but he is pretty careful with the clouds thing. There are some mistakes with the clouds but the ones I've found have been either acknowledged as mistakes ( the clouds breaking over Mat in TOM, ch 8) or retconned (clouds over Merrilor in AMOL prologue and ch 1).

By that reasoning, Mat would have had to go to ToG after VoG (since it rains for a few days before he leaves).

Mat was not in Caemlyn proper when it rained on him. He was in his camp outside the city.

 

Basically, I think that the dragon test scene took place one day before VOG and the gholam fight took place the same night. To further support this, it's mentioned in the gholam fight scene that Mat is happy to have the medallion back from Elayne which indicates that he only got it back recently. By your timeline he's had it back from her for 21 days. Lastly, Mat's and Elayne's timelines are clearly aligned by the time of the dragons test scene. They are both essentially in the same place (Caemlyn) at the same time so it would make no sense to keep their POVs misaligned. And in several preceding scenes their POVs alternate: Mat writes a letter to Elayne (Mat POV), Elayne gets the letter (Elayne POV), they meet and he gives her the medallion (Mat PoV with Elayne present), Mat talks to Birgitte (Mat and Birgitte POVs), at the same time Elayne goes after the the Black Ajah in the dungeon (Elayne POV with Mat present at the end), Elayne is confined to her bed and gives Mat back his medallion (Elayne POV with Mat present), the dragons test (Elayne POV with Mat present). There is no reason to expect their POVs to suddenly go out of sync (much less do so by 20+ days) in the next scene which is Mat's fight with the gholam.

 

In any case, I really like your chronology. It's the first I've seen that mostly makes sense for TOM and tGS. There have been a number of common assumptions such as that Perrin gets to Merrilor just one day before the meeting which pretty much has to be wrong for the timelines to make any sense. People also forget that time spent in the Finnworld can flow with different speed (as happened to Mat in TSR) so that Mat could have spent days there as measured in this world.

 

One other small quibble. You have 11 days from Mat meeting Verin to her death. I don't think it can be more than 10 given her oath to the DO and the deal she made with Mat. In fact, it really should be less than that because Verin thought that Mat will open the letter after only a few days but the timelines are impossible if one assumes that.

Edited by herid
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I would actually love to see the 3 ta'veren reunited for a scene

 

So would I. And I think that, when that happens, there will be a serious Pattern-level event. (Kudos to whoever originated that phrase!) Those three each bend Threads around them. All three together will be a hurricane.

 

Re the 'insects buzzing in the shade', how's this for a stretch.. As Mat exits the ToG, he is blinded by the flash of light, which then fades. Could this be what's causing the shade...?

 

(Ah well, I tried!! :wink: )

Edited by FarShainMael
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Insects buzzing in the shade could refer to dusk - should still be enough light to cast a shade and more insects come out at dusk. Lights also tend to go on at the city at dusk, so could just about fit both scenarios to occur at the same time

 

*best I can do*

Edited by BFG
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@ FarShainMael and BFG

You made me smile. It's amazing how important a few words can become when you're trying to justify a theory, isn't it?

I bet we're going to be arguing just as much about the detail after AMOL is out :tongue:

 

@herid

Can you give some references for the fact that it is always sunny?

I can remember plenty that say it is sunny, or it was sunny whenever, but none that say it's always sunny.

 

Here's one that confirms some cloud cover -

TOM 45 - Elayne wakes up, "about a week since the testing of the dragons", she's also had a message from Egwene to say Mesaana has been defeated - so this is some days after VoG

"Elayne sat back, feeling the powerful warmth through the bond with Rand that had appeared there. ... The moment she'd begun feeling it, the cloud cover around Andor had broken."

 

I know what you mean about the moon phases, I tried to work them out but gave up pretty quickly. I don't have a problem with festivals though.

There is one mentioned in WOT Encyclopedia which I've not been able to find in the books (corrected for my book edition maybe), but otherwise I've been able to make them add up.

The chapter 8 'typo' is noted on the full version of the timeline, but not in the summary.

 

I keep changing my mind about the gholam scene. As you point out, he's happy to have the medallion, suggesting he's only just got it back.

But, if you look at ch 52, he's happy that he's not being hunted at last, something you'd only think imediatelly after the danger had gone.

So, yeah, take your pick, I've had it at 832 and at 812 in the past. I'll make a note about it at the bottom.

 

The dragon test scene is very tightly connected to just about everything else via Gawyn, I've tried different versions, including having it a day before VoG.

In the end I've settled on the day after VoG because that solves other issues further down the line (providing, that is, you can accept it is not permanently sunny in Caemlyn).

I'm happy to go into details if you like, but that is going to be a long discussion so I'll skip it for now.

 

Mat and Verin. I've tried, really, really hard to shorten that time gap. Just can't do it, if you've cracked it then I'd love to know how.

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@herid

Can you give some references for the fact that it is always sunny?

I can remember plenty that say it is sunny, or it was sunny whenever, but none that say it's always sunny.

There is nothing absolutely definitive but it's mentioned a number of times both for Min and Elayne. The scene from TOM, ch 45 that you yourself mentioned is one. that's 10 days after VOG. Gawyn remarked on it too in ToM, ch 33.

 

He[Gawyn] glanced up at the sky as they walked. "I can't believe how much sunlight we've been seeing here. I'd nearly convinced myself that the perpetual gloom was something unnatural."

"Oh, it probably is," she said nonchalantly. "A week back the cloud cover in Andor broke around Caemlyn, but nowhere else."

There is a clear implication here that it's been sunny all the time Gawyn was in Caemlyn.

Faile mentions this in ToM, ch 47 too.

 

Here's one that confirms some cloud cover -

TOM 45 - Elayne wakes up, "about a week since the testing of the dragons", she's also had a message from Egwene to say Mesaana has been defeated - so this is some days after VoG

"Elayne sat back, feeling the powerful warmth through the bond with Rand that had appeared there. ... The moment she'd begun feeling it, the cloud cover around Andor had broken."

 

This quote again strongly implies that it's been sunny all the time. I don't understand why you say it confirms a cloud cover. What I'm saying is that the dragon test (and the gholam fight) took place the day before VOG. that's 12 days before that scene which can still counts as "about a week" (which is 10 days). Elayne talking to Gawyn in ToM, ch 33 happens a day earlier which is exactly one week after VOG.

 

I know what you mean about the moon phases, I tried to work them out but gave up pretty quickly. I don't have a problem with festivals though.

What I meant about festivals and feasts was that they are completely absent in tGS and ToM and so can not be used as reference points to synchronize various timelines as they often were in previous books.

 

 

 

Mat and Verin. I've tried, really, really hard to shorten that time gap. Just can't do it, if you've cracked it then I'd love to know how.

No, I haven't. I tried pretty hard last year but gave up because I couldn't make things fit. I also communicated with Steven Cooper who made this chronology which ends at tGS and he said he gave up for the same reason too.

Edited by herid
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