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Battles (Full Spoilers)


Luckers
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What did you pay 40 $ to read then ?

it was an honest question - what exactly had you expected from the battels and how would you have done them ?

 

ps. your critic at BS are in some points ( although on a smaller scale ) shared with me - so it is a plea to some creativity and not just complaints

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The never-ending Trolloc fodder in the first half of the book is a significant and glaring flaw. They haven't been intimidating enemies since 3/4 of the way through "Eye of the World". This and the endless game of gateway musical chairs just sucked the life out of many chapters. Thank god the second half of the book was better. 

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All that time using Gateways, and they never learned how to use Gateways. All of the first three major battles could have been dealt with using a token force of Military, and a couple dozen channelers sitting in Merrilor.

 

Gateways are the most powerful weapon available to a Channeler this side of Balefire. Tarwin's Gap could have been a victory in a matter of days, instead of a route, and the loss of Fal Moran and Fal Dara would not have been necessary. 

 

The Battle of Caemlyn/Braem Wood could have been finished in a matter of hours, as the city was lost, anyway. The Channelers could have then moved to Kandor...

 

Kandor could have been dealt with in less than a day or two. On to Tarwin's Gap with all of them.

 

Shayol Ghul would have been the only real full-on, heavy-duty battle but everyone would have been at full strength, fresh and ready.

 

The book was 400 pages of frustratingly needless battles and deaths too long. 

 

  1. One, or a few, channeler(s) opens a Gateway (or Gateways) horizontally over the field of battle. Bird's eye view.
  2. Several others looking in, open Gateways under Myrdraal, or under whole parts of Caemlyn, sinking them hundreds of feet below ground. 
  3. As Trollocs try to flee, others open Gateways in front of them, and the Trollocs die passing through, or lay the Gateway horizontal and cut them in half en masse. Token army for mop-up.
  4. At Tarwin's Gap, use Gateways to slice off bits of the mountains to send tumbling into the Gap, sealing it, or lay down Gateways under Myrdraal and Trollocs. Open Gateways in mountains elsewhere that would dump Earth on top of darkspawn, further sealing the Gap, and killing the darkspawn.
  5. Use Androl's ploy to kill Dreadlords. He certainly should not have been the first to cypher that one out. 

The total lack of sharing information between Channelers, Rand and Generals/Elayne cost thousands of needless deaths, and lots of wasted effort and energy.

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The main problem with the battles wasn't the number of trollocs, or the size of the armies of the light, or even the flawed tactics. It wasn't even the lack of mobility on behalf of the light armies, though there were a few glaring plot holes.

 

I imagine opening a gateway as holding up a hundred pound weight.  I can hold it up long enough to walk through, even for 40 or 50 people to walk through (hrmmpf), but it's getting heavy...what? You want me and a hundred other guys to move an army of 300,000, and all their supplies, ammunition, tents, food, ect. Well, ok, but its gonna take a few days, and then I'll need a couple of days to rest up.  Gateways are a huge advantage, but more for special forces and recon than moving large armies.

 

Demandred moving his army actually makes sense to me.  He used a sa'angreal that was only exceeded by the choedan kal, and a full circle of over a hundred of the most powerful chanelers in Shara.  They must have been so exhausted that their superiors numbers were very weakened, allowing the outnumbered Aes Sedai and Asha'man to hold thier own.

 

As for the Sharan army's superior size being less effective, of course they were.  They were crammed through a small door, dumped in a foreign land.  It would have taken days just to begin to sort themselves into a battle formation, establish a supply line, MASH units, ammo dumps, sleeping areas, and a million other little details an army needs.

 

Which brings me to the two biggest plot holes in the last battle.

 

1)  Companies and regiments standing up to heavy incoming one power attacks.  I imagine a chaneler  being about as effective as a modern artillery piece.  A standing unit of pikemen or archers calmly holding their ground as hundreds of lightning bolts, fireballs, and explosions of earth rip them apart, not likely.  Soldiers are very brave, but once an enemy achieves the ability to launch artillery at will into their midst, they break and run for cover.  There is NO WAY the battle played out like a medieval war of attrition.  It would have been far more like a modern battlefield.

 

2) There is no way to explain Demandred's actions.  In no way do they make sense.  All through the series, he is the master manipulator, pulling the strings of all the main players, consolidating over a third of the civilized world under his rule.  Of course he was aware of the strike at Shayol Ghul.  Yet, he somehow believed this was just a diversion, giving the Dragon cover to attack an army of trollocs???  LTT wouldn't be at the bore, no, he'll leave the DO to his underlings and concentrate on the trollocs.

 

The only explanation for Demandred's total mental breakdown is he is desperate to fight LTT, the desire is driving him crazy, so he just ignores the whole attack at Shayol Ghul, where LTT should be.  Why? Demandred's overridding motivation wasn't to rule, it was to beat LTT, to finally prove HE was better.  Demandred would have left his army in a heatbeat for the chance to face LTT at Shayol Ghul.

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My points of criticism are pretty much the same as those of most here I think.

 

The inexplicable absence of a majority of channellers especially WO and Asha'man, whatever genius possessed Egwene and the Hall from commanding a thousand beginning channellers from helping on the battlefield.

 

 

The disappearance of about 200k Aiel who should have been far more effective than all the armies of the Westlands other than the Seanchan combined.

 

The tactics which were really all over the place.

 

Graendal's immortality cheat- I mean really how many times did she barely escape from a surprise attack?

 

Demandred being challenged to a swordfight three times as the utter height of stupidity.

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 Demandred being challenged to a swordfight three times as the utter height of stupidity.

 

Idk, I like how Demandred was handled. He was built up as the ultimate mystery among the Forsaken, and he delivered on that. The fact that he never got what he actually wanted, to face Rand, was his ultimate punishment, But during the battle he was absolutely a force, and more than lived up to his billing. Sanderson never had much of a problem writing the Forsaken/Shadow forces. His weaknesses lie elsewhere. 

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The big question for me is why not tie off gates? Why not do a full circle and let Androl just gate away the trollocs? Why didn't Androl or other channellers just open gates on people?

I'm sure someone must have an answer for this because it has plagued me for a while. I know for a fact that they can tie off gateways, but through the entire series we see channellers that are too exhausted from holding gateways open.

 

 

My main issue with all the battles in the book were that the channellers were way, way too weak. All the weaves that were described seemed to barely do any damage compared to the feel we have gotten from earlier parts of the series. Demandred is a really good example of this. When he joins the battle literally no one is able to deal with him so he throws some weak weaves around that kill an unknown amount of people when it really seems to me that he could literally have crushed every single person on the battlefield if he wanted to, which I feel like would very effectively draw forth Lews Therin as well which is basically the only thing he wanted.

 

The way Demandred was killed by Lan also feels a bit suspected to me. Demandred is arguably the best sword fighter in the world at that point, with Rand only having one hand, and during all the sword fights he is able to quite easily predict what his opponent is doing, but he doesn't realize that when the hardest opponent he has had thus far just suddenly has a hole in his defence there is something wrong?

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I agree the earlier posts, it was annoying that the numbers of the armies and channellers were about the half (or third) than it should have been. In contrast, I could accept that the channellers were not as effective as earlier (they were a little bit overpowered).

 

I love the military history so it was an important point for me.

I would say that the original battle plan (4 fronts) wasn't the one I would have chosen, but it was an acceptable strategy. The main problem is that the distribution of the the force and channellers was faulty. As others mentioned they would have dealt with Caemlyn first. Furthermore the light side should have reserve containing channellers which could have helped out in dire situations qickly in any fronts.

 

In the case of the battle of Merillor, we are repeatedly told that Mat (sometimes Demandred) is a genius, but we are only informed about some minor tactical moves, nothing else. Overall the description is lacking, it is very difficult to understand the strategies used, the placement of the groups and phases of the battle for the first reading.

 

"Demandred being challenged to a swordfight three times as the utter height of stupidity."

I agree. Demandred himself mentioned during the Cleansing that he is a general not a fighter...

 

"All that time using Gateways, and they never learned how to use Gateways. All of the first three major battles could have been dealt with using a token force of Military, and a couple dozen channelers sitting in Merrilor."

It is too strong but overall I agree.

 

"There is no way to explain Demandred's actions. In no way do they make sense."

It is again true.

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1. I agree the earlier posts, it was annoying that the numbers of the armies and channellers were about the half (or third) than it should have been. In contrast, I could accept that the channellers were not as effective as earlier (they were a little bit overpowered).

 

2. I love the military history so it was an important point for me.

I would say that the original battle plan (4 fronts) wasn't the one I would have chosen, but it was an acceptable strategy. The main problem is that the distribution of the the force and channellers was faulty. As others mentioned they would have dealt with Caemlyn first. Furthermore the light side should have reserve containing channellers which could have helped out in dire situations qickly in any fronts.

 

3. "All that time using Gateways, and they never learned how to use Gateways. All of the first three major battles could have been dealt with using a token force of Military, and a couple dozen channelers sitting in Merrilor."

It is too strong but overall I agree.

 

 

 

 

 

  • 1. There were plenty of extra Channelers. Nearly every single Wise One, for example, was left stewing and eating bonbons in Merrilor, and completely unused for the first couple of weeks. Also, the nearly 700 White Tower Accepted and the Kinswomen were forced to the hospital in Mayene, instead of being used in small circles doing better work. Seems the Grey Ajah served as "Pagegirls" only. 
  • 2. Best plan would have been to get lots of channelers to the Gap right away to plug it with loads of rock and earth as a delay. The Dreadlords didn't appear there for nearly a week into the battle. Then go to Caemlyn and sink it piece by piece with Gateways. Mop up the stragglers with Military.
  • 3. Sure a bit strong, but basically true. 

Finally, and the most important thing that I did not ever read in the first three battles-- They never, ever targeted the Myrdraal. After all the battles in the other books, where it was spelled out as common wisdom that all the Trollocs linked to Myrdraal die as soon as their Myrdraal is killed. Nobody targeted them... ever. They ALWAYS went after the Trollocs first. Killing a Myrdraal was always an afterthought. 100,000 Trollocs is 100 Fists. One Myrdraal per fist.. Sometimes a few extra to push the pushers. Seems to me they could have ended the battles pretty quickly had they fought smarter. The Channelers took the hills, so they had the advantage of height.

 

Still-- the better advantage of height would have been to conduct the channeling part of the battles via Gateways in the sky.

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You guys make very good points... I enjoyed reading about the battles, but there was plenty one can critisize.

1) From the "role-playing" perspective, with regard to the WoT rules, channelers felt incredibly weak. Regular forces have never fared well around channelers in WoT world (re: Dumai's Wells; various Trolloc massacres; the Seanchan vs the West or Randworld). The Aiel, Seanchan, Asha'man, and Kin felt, as they say, "underpowered." More generally, the Last Battle felt like a battle from the Napoleonic Era, rather than an all out Modern War - when, given the OP with its gateways (= super-mobility plus near-instant communication) and nukes, and the Seanchan's airforce, it should have been the latter.

2) Both sides' strategies were absurd. As many people have remarked, given the forces of the Light's mobility, numerical inferiority, and nuclear OP capability, the good guys should never have divided across four fronts. They should have adopted a teleport & nuke strategy.

Balefire and gateways open major plot holes on the part of the Shadow's strategy. The Dreadlords could have simply made a few very large circles, and the proceeded to balefire the major cities of the world. That would have meant that even after Rand's vicory at Shayol Ghul, the world would have been broken.

There was nothing to do with the Trollocs but just send them out en masse. However, the Trollocs didn't have to attack Merillor. They could simply have continued their invasion of Randland, killing as much as possible.

Apart from trying to destroy Randland rather than Randland's armies, the Shadow should have tried to prevent the formation of the coalition. In particular, they should have prevented the alliance with the Seanchan. Imagine Demandred had invaded Seanchan with the Sharans. Tuon would have had to go and fight there, breaking up the coalition.

And nevermind that Demandred could have simply nuked the Allied armies with his mega-circle.

3) Why did the Dark One leave his command center exposed? He always knew Rand would invade Shayol Ghul. So why not fortify the valley to the hilt. Stack up as many Dreadlords as possible, set up ambushes, etc.

4) The Asha'man and the Seanchan barely fought despite being in the coalition - and together, the two armies were probably as strong as the rest of the forces of the Light combined.

5) There were all sorts of problems with the battles as presented - for example the duels with Demandred - but whatever.

6) The True Power wielders failed to exploit their assassination cabilities. What could have stopped Graendal from TP-gatewaying to Egwene's tent masked as an Aes Sedai, and balefiring the whole joint? Why didn't Slayer (despite his idiotic orders) not teleport behind Mat with a bow in hand? Meh...

7) Finally, there were all sorts of weird high-fantasy type leftovers from the first 3 books, which fail to fit with the political/ role-playing-ruleset story that the WoT eventually became. Those were quietly muddled over at the end: Darkhounds, Last Hunt, Horn of Valere, whatever.

 

From a literary perspective, there were too many battle scenes in MoL. By now we've seen thousands of heroic charges and million of slain trollocs. And yet two-thirds of the book reads like this: "He was very tired, but pushed on to fight. He slew 24 trollocs with his sword. Everybody cheered. She was also very tired, but she sent a few fireballs at the Trollocs anyway. Everybody cheered." How about fewer battles and more melodrama. Lan meets Lorraine; Rand, Mat and Perrin get drunk together; Galad and Rand meet knowing they are brothers; Tuon cries knowing she is a Marathdamane; Lanfear actually has a plausible love interest; etc.

The problem with the battles is that Sanderson tried - with some success! - to produce a 500 page-long climax. But such a thing cannot be. The reader ends up skimming across random PoV battle scenes, looking for the next interesting event.

 

Still, as I say, given his writing style (influenced by comic books and even computer games, from what I see), and WoT's intrinsic One Power plot-holes, Sanderson has done a decent enough job.

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"From a literary perspective, there were too many battle scenes in MoL. By now we've seen thousands of heroic charges and million of slain trollocs. And yet two-thirds of the book reads like this: "He was very tired, but pushed on to fight. He slew 24 trollocs with his sword. Everybody cheered. She was also very tired, but she sent a few fireballs at the Trollocs anyway. Everybody cheered." How about fewer battles and more melodrama. Lan meets Lorraine; Rand, Mat and Perrin get drunk together; Galad and Rand meet knowing they are brothers; Tuon cries knowing she is a Marathdamane; Lanfear actually has a plausible love interest; etc."

 

I would have preferred character development (Demanded), reactions for some key scene instead of melodrama but overall I agree with you.

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I like considering ToM and AMoL to be one book, not two. They fit together well that way, and it helps make some of the plotlines in ToM (Graendal and Slayer) fall a little less flat as they do feel as if they go somewhere in AMoL. I feel that also made the incredible amount of battle scenes somewhat more bearable. If you consider AMoL as a standalone, it's way too much. It's still a lot even considering it as the second half (or last third) of a multi-part book, but more tolerable.

 

Anyway, plausibility aside, they did keep me hooked.

 

I would have liked more close-ups of Demandred. There seemed to be potential there.

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I enjoyed the "Battle on Four Fronts" conceit, and really liked the manner in which command of the armies was handed to Mat (it was going to happen).  A particular highlight of this sub-plot was Ituralde's POV.  The way in which we see his mind is subtly being raped was quite creepy in execution.

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Did anyone else get the impression that pikes/pikemen are invincible from this book?

 

Yet another thing to infuriate me. The non trained pikemen would have gotten shattered by the Trollocs. If you read accounts about Early Modern warfare, it's very hard to ignore that it takes an enormous amount of conditioning, experience, and skill to "push a pike" against an opponent that's far better trained.

 

Then again Mat seems to have figured out that he could get away with this lunacy because Demandred was apparently an OOC moron

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Did anyone else get the impression that pikes/pikemen are invincible from this book?

 

Well, historically in the right circumstances, they were.  The problem is that the right circumstances only occurs rarely, and only under the right circumstances.

 

I think that we can chalk this one up to BS not understanding what made the development of the pike significant in history.  Or, if he did, not having the time and space to develop its use clearly.

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Sizes of various forces have been vague and/or inconsistent throughout the whole series. Lan had 12,000 men charging through the Gap towards 10 ten times as many trollocs. He lost half of them in the initial charge. They lost a great many Aiel to the bleakness.

 

As has been said, the DO wanted Rand at SG, so it wasn't well defended.

 

As for Shara: Greandal took their king and queen, or whatever they call them. Presumably  they went into chaos. I also assume they they had their own prophecies about Rand, which Rand ignored, and Demandred exploited. He convinced them he was their savior, just as Asmodean tried to fool the Aiel into believing Couladin was their Caracorn. It can be assumed that internal war and Demandred killed a great many of them, or that only a small percentage of them were fooled by him. That should explain their small numbers.

 

The shadow had three large armies roaming Randland. One of them had already destroyed a whole nation, and another the capital of Andor. The forces of light had to split up and stop them. Otherwise they would have wiped out every village on the way south to other cities from which the Lights forces supplied. As it is, Kandor and Sheinar are pretty much gone Camelyn is gone. The capital of Saldea nearly fell in a previous book and it probably fell later, off screen. There was plenty of destruction.

 

I agree that gateways were under used. Once they rediscovered them, I started thinking of ways they could be used. I envisioned opening them to the bottom of the ocean, so I was glad when Androl one upped me and opened one into a volcano. Too bad he only did it once. I liked how they finally hid the dragons underground and shot through gatewas. They should have been shooting through them the whole time. Want to stop trollocs from rushing down the gap, or a city street at you? Form circles, open huge gateways in from of them, and cut them down with dragons and arrows. There are a great many ways to use them more effectively than they did.

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Sizes of various forces have been vague and/or inconsistent throughout the whole series. Lan had 12,000 men charging through the Gap towards 10 ten times as many trollocs. He lost half of them in the initial charge. They lost a great many Aiel to the bleakness.

Ald, come on mate. Not only were the numbers off but entire groups of channelers simply disappeared and it gos far beyond "vague". It is problematic to say the least, especially considering how much time was dedicated to the endless slog of "battle porn" in this book.

 

Not to mention in regards to battles Shara pretty much eclipsed the shadow. It really was not well done by any stretch of the imagination.

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As has been said, the DO wanted Rand at SG, so it wasn't well defended.

 

OK, but then why did the Shadow try to retake Shayol Ghul? I guess the logic is that they wanted to draw Rand out, and then catch him with his pants down. But then why didn't Demandred use the Sharan army to capture SG? He surely knew thatt he forces of the Light are mounting a desperate defense there. I mean Graendal could have spared 5 seconds to teleport to Demandred to tell him Rand's up at SG. If not Graendal, then some Dreadlord. Or the DO himself in ALL CAPS.

Makes no sense. But then, so many things in the WoT make no sense I guess it doesn't really matter.

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Sizes of various forces have been vague and/or inconsistent throughout the whole series. Lan had 12,000 men charging through the Gap towards 10 ten times as many trollocs. He lost half of them in the initial charge. They lost a great many Aiel to the bleakness.

Ald, come on mate. Not only were the numbers off but entire groups of channelers simply disappeared and it gos far beyond "vague". It is problematic to say the least, especially considering how much time was dedicated to the endless slog of "battle porn" in this book.

 

Not to mention in regards to battles Shara pretty much eclipsed the shadow. It really was not well done by any stretch of the imagination.

 

I wouldnt have minded the whole Shara thing if they had gone into more PoV Demandred scenes where he basically says he's spent the last couple of years training every slave in Shara and promising them freedom/land etc if they help him win the last battle.

 

A lot of it could have just had a couple of view point scenes and then a summery given to Mat on how the battle went etc later, which is most likely what RJ would have done based on the older books. Like how he did the Cairhien-Shaido battles and how little detail he gave Mat killing Couladin.

 

I just found there was far too little backstory, too many plot holes. I mean jesus would it have been difficult for the Aes Sedai to ward their General's dreams/keep one near them at all times to prevent compulsion, They were kinda key figures...

 

As for Demandred and sharks with freakin laser-beams on their heads... I would have understood that if Moridin had lied to him, or if he was somehow trying to kill so many of Rands friends that he gave up at SG and went to him. If he had studied Rand at all in any way shape or form he would have known if Rand/LTT was there then he would have faced him or at least partook in the battle.

 

Personally I think one of the reasons why it played out like this was that RJ didnt write many notes for the battles because he never planned on most of them being onscreen, which is why there was so much emphasis on fatigue and such, I think we were meant to believe that the un-ending swathes of trollocs were meant to tire the Channellers  Lets assume that every channeller could kill say between 1,000 and 20,000 trollocs unaided before they were a shattered wreck asleep on the ground for a few days. Rand managed over 100,000 in ToM but hes the Dragon Reborn so lets hold him above. If there were 10,000 Light side channellers which is a very high number, I think it should have been about 7k. but even with 10k killing 1000 trollocs each thats 10 MILLION trollocs down. and even if there were 5k thats still 5 million.

 

Consistency where are you?

 

Not to mention the fact that Trollocs also use Bows and could have probably wiped out every human in the light side army 3-4 times over just by having the reserve troops pelting them with arrows while the front lines get turned into molten piles of furry lard.

 

Nope seems to me that the only channellers who actually stayed as powerful as they should have been were the Dreadlords, Egwene and the Forsaken. Taim turned into a useless sack of bones as did his dark side Asha'man. Anyone else wonder what happened to the stuff he trained them to do for DW? if he and a chunk of his men gatewayed into the middle of Mats army and did the whole rolling earth and fire trick that army would have broken and been ploughed under.

 

 

I would have been more impressed if the shadow managed to slip them forkroot, it would have explained the uselessness of them rather than countering 13 books worth of awesomeness and turning them into a book club. The shadow spent so long trying to weaken the Aes Sedai but it wasnt needed as we all thought.

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I'm not saying there weren't problems, but it does make sense that the channelers would face exhaustion. The Aes Sedai had been engaged in battle for weeks before the final one. And much of the concentration of many of the channelers had to be focused at other channelers specifically to prevent them from wreaking havoc on regular troops. You could say a large amount of energy at Merrilor wasn't spent on attacking regular troops but on just trying to neutralize the attacks of other channelers, specifically when they were outnumbered.

 

Anyway, 7,000 channelers for the Light? Perhaps Brandon underestimated, but I'd lower that to two thousand, and that's being very generous, not counting damane, who were held in reserve, apparently.

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The Kin had over 1700+ (The AS were amazed because they out numbered them so highly), the Aes Sedai after purges had about 700-800 + several hundred novices. Asha'man had around 1k - 100 to 200 dark side guys who left. Seafolk is probably another 2-300(if not more but each ship had one). Aiel is easily another 1000 if not a lot more(The Shaido had over 200 most which were taken by the Seanchan and if 1 clan has 200+ how many do the other 11 clans have... could easily be 2k).

 

Then you have the Seanchan, thats easily got to be 500-1000. The whole thing wasnt really thought out, the numbers were nerfed to make Shara look better. 

 

Take the conversation between Taim and Demandred. If Taim had been given more support(More female channellers for 13x13) he could have given the dark side the better part of 1000 Dreadlords, which is a hell of a lot better than 400 that Demandred brought and he did that training them himself. Yet Shara a whole continent could only field 400 in a land where they breed channeller stock, in a land where he had pretty much total control to have people search out those with the spark...

 

better to have left Shara out of it than make it so that it isnt much more effective than if it had been something the size of Andor rather than 100 times the size of Andor.

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