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False Dragon1991

Confused by Rand and the Dark One discussion

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It's also possible that Moiraine was wrong about the consequences of asking about the Shadow.

Erica Sadun

What was going on in Aelfland when Mat went round and round and round the same location? Were they traveling in time?

Robert Jordan

Not traveling in time. The physical laws of nature differ. Mentioning the Dark One [in Randland] is bad luck. In Aelfland, it is *REALLY* bad. You cannot go to Aelfland in Tel'aran'rhiod (similar to stedding).

 

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Am I the only one that read that whole scene with Rand and the Dark One as merely another feature in RJ's WOT universe, and didn't suddenly start questioning the nature of good and evil?


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Am I the only one that read that whole scene with Rand and the Dark One as merely another feature in RJ's WOT universe, and didn't suddenly start questioning the nature of good and evil?

 

Personally, when I read it, I ignored the specifics (I was aware that it presented some inconsistencies if taken literally) and ran with it being a thematic, conceptual idea. The theme it was presenting (killing the DO being bad for the Pattern) is perfectly fine and I sighed a breath of relief when Rand didn't kill the DO, but the specifics of the scenario were inaccurate. 

 

So yeah, I was kind of half/half. The inconsistency in a literal interpretation struck me, but I chose to look at it from the conceptual angle and gloss over the specifics. 

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It's also possible that Moiraine was wrong about the consequences of asking about the Shadow.

Erica Sadun

What was going on in Aelfland when Mat went round and round and round the same location? Were they traveling in time?

Robert Jordan

Not traveling in time. The physical laws of nature differ. Mentioning the Dark One [in Randland] is bad luck. In Aelfland, it is *REALLY* bad. You cannot go to Aelfland in Tel'aran'rhiod (similar to stedding).

 

 

No wonder Moridin had to blast everything apart to get Lanfear's body out.

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Without Mashadar, it would make sense. Going by what happens at the end, you would think that all evil belongs to the DO, but that isn't the case. People can make their own form of shadow, so evil can exist outside of the Dark One's influence. The reason is not consistent with the rules of the world, in my opinion.

Mashadar is proof that the Dark One is not the source of all evil.

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Without Mashadar, it would make sense. Going by what happens at the end, you would think that all evil belongs to the DO, but that isn't the case. People can make their own form of shadow, so evil can exist outside of the Dark One's influence. The reason is not consistent with the rules of the world, in my opinion.

Mashadar is proof that the Dark One is not the source of all evil.

 

 

I think Mashadar and Shadar Logoth are one of the most misunderstood aspects of WOT.  The idea behind Rand's final conflict with the DO is not that the DO is the source of all evil in the sense that evil is a force or some tangible thing.  Rather the DO's presence allows human beings to make evil choices.  Shadar Logoth and Mahshadar came about when a man known as Mordeth made it his personal mission to destroy the Dark One.  While Mordeth was originally a good man with very good intentions he became obsessed with the idea of destroying the Dark One and eventually took on an "at all cost" attitude toward his mission and this lead him to use some questionable methods in achieving his goal.  Ultimately Mordeth began doing evil in the name of destroying the DO thus corrupting himself and the city that would become Shadar Logoth.  So what you must realize is that the forces at Shadar Logoth do not repel the DO and his minions simply because they are a different breed of evil but because they were specifically designed to do so.  The irony is that Mordeth could not have chosen to use evil in quest to destroy the DO without the DO's influence.  In his natural state (ie no bore) the DO can only allow people to make evil choices.  What specific evil choices a person makes are up to them and in the case of Mordeth he used those choices to create a force that would oppose the Dark One.

 

I think that Mordeth was included in the WOT not only as a plot device by which Saidin could be cleansed but also as an example of what Rand might have become had he not had his epiphany atop Dragonmount.  Rand was also a good man with good intentions but he, himself, was going to some rather dark places in the name of destroying the Dark One.

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I do not understand how the existence or non-existence of the Dark One can affect the nature of the Pattern and the people's ability to choose between good and evil. We know three facts about the cosmology of WoT:

 

1. The Creator does not influence the Pattern in any manner or form after creating it.

2. The Dark One is completely sealed off from the Pattern at all times, except the final centuries of the Age of Legends and the entire Third Age.

3. The Pattern is neither good nor evil, it simply is what it is, and good and evil are both parts of the Pattern.

 

The first fact makes it clear that the Creator is not the source of all good in the world, the Creator merely created the world and left it to its own devices.

The second fact makes it clear that the Dark One is incapable of supplying evil to the Pattern after Rand remakes his prison, yet we know that both the Fourth Age (as seen in Aviendha's visions), and our Age have plenty of evil. Even the Age of Legends had evil - Semirhage was a sadistic psycho even before the Bore was created, and criminals still existed and had to be binded against committing crimes when caught.

The third and most important fact makes it clear that good and evil (and therefore the ability to choose between them and have free will) are inherent properties of the Pattern, and exist independently of the influence of any outside forces/deities.

 

With this in mind, we have no choice but to conclude that the Dark One being the source (or product) of all evil is a major retcon and a direct contradiction of what we knew of WoT cosmology up to that point. What's worse, the retcon doesn't come because it makes the world more interesting or Rand's moral dilemma more challenging - the retcon comes because the author(s) wanted to end the series with "Status Quo is God", and couldn't think of any better justification for Rand to spare the ultimate villain. Meanwhile, even a tiny bit of imagination could have drawn a far more convincing reason for Rand to spare the Dark One in the end. And all the authors had to do was utilize the cosmology of their own universe.

 

We know that time in WoT is cyclic - there are Seven Ages that flow seamlessly into one another, and every iteration of the Wheel is the same in basic respects, and different in precise details. The high point of the time cycle is the Age of Legends, an idyllic and highly advanced society which uses  both science and magic to solve virtually all of mankind's problems (crime, hunger, illiteracy, sickness, war and other things do not exist and are long forgotten in the AoL), and which is reverted to a pseudo-medieval level of advancement after the Dark One (partially) breaks free. With this and the above mentioned facts in mind, let's see what happens when Rand sees a vision of the world where the Dark One is killed.

 

The most surprising thing is that nothing particularly outstanding happens immediately after the Dark One is killed. At best, the DO's death results in the instant death of all Shadowspawn, instant blooming of the former Blight, instant clearing of the Ways (and destruction of Machin Shin), and instant healing of any partially or totally insane male channelers in the whole world. That is, assuming that killing the DO should also annihilate all traces of entities that exist as a direct result of the DO's taint, which I am not sure is the case. But, whatever. Lets say it happens. Why is this the only thing that initially comes as a result of the Dark One's death? Because if the Dark One is sealed off in a perfectly remade prison as per normal, he is no longer capable of affecting the world in any manner or form until the next Age of Legends. Which means that no events that occur in the time-span between the beginning of the Fourth Age and the drilling of the Bore come as a result of the Dark One's existence, in which case the Dark One may as well be dead for the duration of this time-span. Unless his prison has a hole in it, he doesn't matter. He cannot change anything in the world.

 

Rand, seeing that the Fourth Age will turn out normal and that Elayne and his other friends/wives will do as well as can be expected under the circumstances, becomes convinced of his decision to kill the Dark One, as he was planning to do all along. Before he has a chance to go through with it, however, he senses subtle signs of triumph/gloating/satisfaction from the Dark One himself. Wondering why the Dark One would be satisfied with his own death, Rand skips forward in time, observing the new iteration of the Wheel, until he reaches himself in the Age of Legends, Lews Therin as he was one hundred or so years before the Breaking of the World.

 

In Collam Daan university, Lews Therin's former girlfriend Mierin Eronaile and Beidomon theorize there should exist a type of Power that can be used equally by both genders. Locating a distant and exotic region of the Pattern, they drill a hole into it, and discover... nothing. No Power, no Dark One, just void. Nothingness. Sharom does not explode, the War of Power never starts, the worst thing is that Collam Daan is highly disappointed with Mierin's lack of progress/waste of government funds. Without the Dark One's evil influence, Age of Legends society lives on as normal, making further progress into the study and use of science and the One Power. Lews Therin Telamon turns in the Ring of Tamyrlin and resigns from his post to spend more time with Ilyena and his family. Mierin never reunites with Lews Therin or does anything important enough to earn a third name, Nemene Damendar Boann gets caught torturing her patients and is forced to swear on the Oath Rod, and Barid Bel Medar learns to cope with being the second-best.

 

At this point, Rand begins to suspect that something is wrong. Without the Dark One, the War of Power can never occur, Saidin can never be tainted, and the Breaking of the World will not change the geography of the world to the way it should be in the Third Age. In fact, none of the events of the Third Age can come to pass if the Age of Legends continues to persist for centuries and millennia after its designated time. Three thousand years pass after Lews Therin dies of old age after a long and fulfilling life, and Rand comes to realize that in this world neither he nor anyone he knows and loves can exist. Even when their souls are reincarnated, they will not be the people they were in the absence of the nations they were born in, in the absence of conditions and values that shaped them as people. In an endless Age of Legends there can never be a red-haired farmboy with a heart of gold called Rand Al'Thor, there can never be the stoic and selfless young Amyrlin Seat Egwene Al'Vere, nor Elayne, Aviendha and Min. In a global utopia there will be no room for Caemliyn, Carhien, or Two Rivers. Everything that comprised Rand's life will be erased forever, along with everything that comes after it. There will be no White Tower, Return of the Seanchan, no Fourth Age, and no Aiel. The Wheel of Time is truly and irreversibly broken, as the Dark One had always intended.

 

But what will the Age of Legends look like after millennia upon millennia of unrestricted growth? How long before hyper-advanced scientific and magical progress change the human society into something the Pattern had never envisioned, nor was ever capable to sustain? What will people devise long after they solved all of their problems and have grown arrogant and lost the wisdom that comes from facing challenges that life throws at you? Ter'angreal that allow all people to use the One Power equally, even ones who do not have the Talent? Functional immortality and lack of old age? Extra-terrestrial colonies? The urbanization of Portal Worlds, parallel dimensions (even Sindhol), and Tel'Aran'Rhiod? One way or another, the continued need for new space and new resources, as well as the inevitable shift of the people's morality and mentality (and physiology) into something wholly alien and incomprehensible, will lead to a Pattern that is so convoluted and unsustainable that it will collapse under its own weight, unable to resolve the contradictions the Pattern faces when it is does not revert from the Age of Legends to the Third Age and beyond.

 

Now Rand sees the horrible truth - the Pattern cannot exist for longer than a single turning of the Wheel if it does not have the Dark One to introduce cataclysmic change at necessary points in time. Killing the Dark One breaks the Wheel as surely as allowing him to win does, and while the DO does not have the power to destroy the world completely - merely to twist it into something nightmarish and hopeless - killing the DO is the only possibility in which all creation winks out of existence forever. Just as he always wanted. It will take a single turning of the Wheel, but it will happen, and there will be no going back.

 

This is only one of many possibilities, but it shows how easy it would have been for RJ/BS to write a Rand vs. DO battle of wills that would have actually made sense, looked convincing enough, and did not contradict the established cosmology in a frustratingly off-handed way.

Edited by Quadrillium

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I do not understand how the existence or non-existence of the Dark One can affect the nature of the Pattern and the people's ability to choose between good and evil. We know three facts about the cosmology of WoT:

 

1. The Creator does not influence the Pattern in any manner or form after creating it.

2. The Dark One is completely sealed off from the Pattern at all times, except the final centuries of the Age of Legends and the entire Third Age.

3. The Pattern is neither good nor evil, it simply is what it is, and good and evil are both parts of the Pattern.

 

The first fact makes it clear that the Creator is not the source of all good in the world, the Creator merely created the world and left it to its own devices.

The second fact makes it clear that the Dark One is incapable of supplying evil to the Pattern after Rand remakes his prison, yet we know that both the Fourth Age (as seen in Aviendha's visions), and our Age have plenty of evil. Even the Age of Legends had evil - Semirhage was a sadistic psycho even before the Bore was created, and criminals still existed and had to be binded against committing crimes when caught.

The third and most important fact makes it clear that good and evil (and therefore the ability to choose between them and have free will) are inherent properties of the Pattern, and exist independently of the influence of any outside forces/deities.

 

With this in mind, we have no choice but to conclude that the Dark One being the source (or product) of all evil is a major retcon and a direct contradiction of what we knew of WoT cosmology up to that point. What's worse, the retcon doesn't come because it makes the world more interesting or Rand's moral dilemma more challenging - the retcon comes because the author(s) wanted to end the series with "Status Quo is God", and couldn't think of any better justification for Rand to spare the ultimate villain. Meanwhile, even a tiny bit of imagination could have drawn a far more convincing reason for Rand to spare the Dark One in the end. And all the authors had to do was utilize the cosmology of their own universe.

 

We know that time in WoT is cyclic - there are Seven Ages that flow seamlessly into one another, and every iteration of the Wheel is the same in basic respects, and different in precise details. The high point of the time cycle is the Age of Legends, an idyllic and highly advanced society which uses  both science and magic to solve virtually all of mankind's problems (crime, hunger, illiteracy, sickness, war and other things do not exist and are long forgotten in the AoL), and which is reverted to a pseudo-medieval level of advancement after the Dark One (partially) breaks free. With this and the above mentioned facts in mind, let's see what happens when Rand sees a vision of the world where the Dark One is killed.

 

The most surprising thing is that nothing particularly outstanding happens immediately after the Dark One is killed. At best, the DO's death results in the instant death of all Shadowspawn, instant blooming of the former Blight, instant clearing of the Ways (and destruction of Machin Shin), and instant healing of any partially or totally insane male channelers in the whole world. That is, assuming that killing the DO should also annihilate all traces of entities that exist as a direct result of the DO's taint, which I am not sure is the case. But, whatever. Lets say it happens. Why is this the only thing that initially comes as a result of the Dark One's death? Because if the Dark One is sealed off in a perfectly remade prison as per normal, he is no longer capable of affecting the world in any manner or form until the next Age of Legends. Which means that no events that occur in the time-span between the beginning of the Fourth Age and the drilling of the Bore come as a result of the Dark One's existence, in which case the Dark One may as well be dead for the duration of this time-span. Unless his prison has a hole in it, he doesn't matter. He cannot change anything in the world.

 

Rand, seeing that the Fourth Age will turn out normal and that Elayne and his other friends/wives will do as well as can be expected under the circumstances, becomes convinced of his decision to kill the Dark One, as he was planning to do all along. Before he has a chance to go through with it, however, he senses subtle signs of triumph/gloating/satisfaction from the Dark One himself. Wondering why the Dark One would be satisfied with his own death, Rand skips forward in time, observing the new iteration of the Wheel, until he reaches himself in the Age of Legends, Lews Therin as he was one hundred or so years before the Breaking of the World.

 

In Collam Daan university, Lews Therin's former girlfriend Mierin Eronaile and Beidomon theorize there should exist a type of Power that can be used equally by both genders. Locating a distant and exotic region of the Pattern, they drill a hole into it, and discover... nothing. No Power, no Dark One, just void. Nothingness. Sharom does not explode, the War of Power never starts, the worst thing is that Collam Daan is highly disappointed with Mierin's lack of progress/waste of government funds. Without the Dark One's evil influence, Age of Legends society lives on as normal, making further progress into the study and use of science and the One Power. Lews Therin Telamon turns in the Ring of Tamyrlin and resigns from his post to spend more time with Ilyena and his family. Mierin never reunites with Lews Therin or does anything important enough to earn a third name, Nemene Damendar Boann gets caught torturing her patients and is forced to swear on the Oath Rod, and Barid Bel Medar learns to cope with being the second-best.

 

At this point, Rand begins to suspect that something is wrong. Without the Dark One, the War of Power can never occur, Saidin can never be tainted, and the Breaking of the World will not change the geography of the world to the way it should be in the Third Age. In fact, none of the events of the Third Age can come to pass if the Age of Legends continues to persist for centuries and millennia after its designated time. Three thousand years pass after Lews Therin dies of old age after a long and fulfilling life, and Rand comes to realize that in this world neither he nor anyone he knows and loves can exist. Even when their souls are reincarnated, they will not be the people they were in the absence of the nations they were born in, in the absence of conditions and values that shaped them as people. In an endless Age of Legends there can never be a red-haired farmboy with a heart of gold called Rand Al'Thor, there can never be the stoic and selfless young Amyrlin Seat Egwene Al'Vere, nor Elayne, Aviendha and Min. In a global utopia there will be no room for Caemliyn, Carhien, or Two Rivers. Everything that comprised Rand's life will be erased forever, along with everything that comes after it. There will be no White Tower, Return of the Seanchan, no Fourth Age, and no Aiel. The Wheel of Time is truly and irreversibly broken, as the Dark One had always intended.

 

But what will the Age of Legends look like after millennia upon millennia of unrestricted growth? How long before hyper-advanced scientific and magical progress change the human society into something the Pattern had never envisioned, nor was ever capable to sustain? What will people devise long after they solved all of their problems and have grown arrogant and lost the wisdom that comes from facing challenges that life throws at you? Ter'angreal that allow all people to use the One Power equally, even ones who do not have the Talent? Functional immortality and lack of old age? Extra-terrestrial colonies? The urbanization of Portal Worlds, parallel dimensions (even Sindhol), and Tel'Aran'Rhiod? One way or another, the continued need for new space and new resources, as well as the inevitable shift of the people's morality and mentality (and physiology) into something wholly alien and incomprehensible, will lead to a Pattern that is so convoluted and unsustainable that it will collapse under its own weight, unable to resolve the contradictions the Pattern faces when it is does not revert from the Age of Legends to the Third Age and beyond.

 

Now Rand sees the horrible truth - the Pattern cannot exist for longer than a single turning of the Wheel if it does not have the Dark One to introduce cataclysmic change at necessary points in time. Killing the Dark One breaks the Wheel as surely as allowing him to win does, and while the DO does not have the power to destroy the world completely - merely to twist it into something nightmarish and hopeless - killing the DO is the only possibility in which all creation winks out of existence forever. Just as he always wanted. It will take a single turning of the Wheel, but it will happen, and there will be no going back.

 

This is only one of many possibilities, but it shows how easy it would have been for RJ/BS to write a Rand vs. DO battle of wills that would have actually made sense, looked convincing enough, and did not contradict the established cosmology in a frustratingly off-handed way.

 

Although I appreciate that you've only put this out as one possibility and not a definitive theory, there are a couple of assumptions that seem wrong to me. 

 

I don't think that either sealing away the DO or killing him would lead to the elimination of all traces of him in the world, shadowspawn or taint, but may be wrong on this (and it doesn't effect the rest of your theory so doesn't matter anyway).

 

The bigger thing is that Rand, Elayne, Eg, Two Rivers, etc, etc will never exist again anyway, they existed only in this third age.  We don't know, for sure, how closely the Ages repeat, but in a few Ages time (if not the next) it's likely that the Aiel as a race, or even an equivalent wouldn't exist, etc.  The only events that we can be sure of that are fixed is that the bore is opened and is sealed.  The Dragon and Ishy equiv are born and born again, after that everything is up to change, and even then there are turnings where the Dragon is the villain and presumably some where Ishy is the hero. 

 

The story can just about get away with it (imo) because of the way the story is told.  Because we see the argument from Rands perspective the DO being the source of all evil doesn't have to be true, Rand just has to believe it to be true.  No, from a reader perspective it doesn't make sense, but for somebody in Rands perspective it sort of could. 

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The bigger thing is that Rand, Elayne, Eg, Two Rivers, etc, etc will never exist again anyway, they existed only in this third age.  We don't know, for sure, how closely the Ages repeat, but in a few Ages time (if not the next) it's likely that the Aiel as a race, or even an equivalent wouldn't exist, etc.

 

During Rand's epiphany on Dragonmount, he (and Lews Therin) think that if the Dragon lives again in the Age of Legends, then Ilyena might as well, and he will have the chance to love her again and do better than he did last time. I don't think every subsequent iteration of the Wheel is so different that none of the people and nations will be the same - perhaps after a few hundred/thousand turnings the Third Age will gradually become unrecognizable, but probably not on the very next turning. This isn't the point, though. The point is that the readers need to see the logical consequences of killing the Dark One based on the facts that we know. Personally, I was always in support of the "killing the DO" option because to me WoT cosmology feels like a super-long Groundhog Day Loop that needs to be broken by doing the right thing, and allowing time to flow in a straight line rather than a circle. But, even if the author chose to preserve the status quo, he could have done so in a manner that made sense and was not full of retcons/plotholes.

 

 

Those are some pretty good ideas, Quin. I don't know why they went with what they went with. It seems odd.

There are a lot of odd moments in the last book.

Edited by Quadrillium

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The bigger thing is that Rand, Elayne, Eg, Two Rivers, etc, etc will never exist again anyway, they existed only in this third age.  We don't know, for sure, how closely the Ages repeat, but in a few Ages time (if not the next) it's likely that the Aiel as a race, or even an equivalent wouldn't exist, etc.

 

During Rand's epiphany on Dragonmount, he (and Lews Therin) think that if the Dragon lives again in the Age of Legends, then Ilyena might as well, and he will have the chance to love her again and do better than he did last time. I don't think every subsequent iteration of the Wheel is so different that none of the people and nations will be the same - perhaps after a few hundred/thousand turnings the Third Age will gradually become unrecognizable, but probably not on the very next turning. This isn't the point, though. The point is that the readers need to see the logical consequences of killing the Dark One based on the facts that we know. Personally, I was always in support of the "killing the DO" option because to me WoT cosmology feels like a super-long Groundhog Day Loop that needs to be broken by doing the right thing, and allowing time to flow in a straight line rather than a circle. But, even if the author chose to preserve the status quo, he could have done so in a manner that made sense and was not full of retcons/plotholes.

 

 

 

 

There's that famous quote about tapestries, which annoyingly I can't now find.  But to paraphrase from a distance the tapestries look the same, but up close nothing alike.  So I don't think that the same cast of characters will be around next time, or even anything close.

 

 

 

The simplest thing would have been for Rand to decide that destroying the DO, would destroy the wheel and end time, since there's no indication that I can think of that would make time go linearly, but...

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The bigger thing is that Rand, Elayne, Eg, Two Rivers, etc, etc will never exist again anyway, they existed only in this third age.  We don't know, for sure, how closely the Ages repeat, but in a few Ages time (if not the next) it's likely that the Aiel as a race, or even an equivalent wouldn't exist, etc.

During Rand's epiphany on Dragonmount, he (and Lews Therin) think that if the Dragon lives again in the Age of Legends, then Ilyena might as well, and he will have the chance to love her again and do better than he did last time. I don't think every subsequent iteration of the Wheel is so different that none of the people and nations will be the same - perhaps after a few hundred/thousand turnings the Third Age will gradually become unrecognizable, but probably not on the very next turning. This isn't the point, though. The point is that the readers need to see the logical consequences of killing the Dark One based on the facts that we know. Personally, I was always in support of the "killing the DO" option because to me WoT cosmology feels like a super-long Groundhog Day Loop that needs to be broken by doing the right thing, and allowing time to flow in a straight line rather than a circle. But, even if the author chose to preserve the status quo, he could have done so in a manner that made sense and was not full of retcons/plotholes.

 

There's that famous quote about tapestries, which annoyingly I can't now find.  But to paraphrase from a distance the tapestries look the same, but up close nothing alike.  So I don't think that the same cast of characters will be around next time, or even anything close.

 

The simplest thing would have been for Rand to decide that destroying the DO, would destroy the wheel and end time, since there's no indication that I can think of that would make time go linearly, but...

Here:

 

 

ROBERT JORDAN
Each age is NOT precisely the same with each new turning of the Wheel. I actually asked RJ to explain this before Eye even came out, because he was trying to explain the cosmology to me and I wasn't getting it. The analogy he used (for the differences between an Age in one turning and in another) was to say that it would be like standing in front of what looked to be two copies of the same painting; but as you looked closely, you'd start to find tiny, subtle differences, more and more differences the more closely you looked, until you eventually realized that the paintings were almost completely different.
With regard to linear time, I don't really see how it could be established in the series - I don't think killing Shai'tan would make a difference either way, and destroying the Wheel would just destroy time (or at least that's the impression I got from RJ interviews and my own reading of the text). As for people, the nature of the Wheel is that souls are spun out again, but not necessarily at the same time, and they would be new people. If Ilyena's soul and LTT's soul met one another in a new life, they have no more reason to fall in love than any two other souls. And they have no more reason to meet than any two other souls.

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The ending didn't make a lick of sense to me. I expected Rand to somehow break the wheel of time and make and make time linear therefore breaking the cycle. But now everything is up in the air, damn, I'm not even sure if the "father of lies" even existed.

 

Anyway, the last book was disapointing end to a great series. Ended too abruptly with to many unanswered questions... but there it is.

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