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A WHEEL OF TIME COMMUNITY

The Greatest of the Great Captains


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From a recent re-read of AMOL, I got the distinct impression that Rodel Ituralde is the greatest captain of the four great captains. Why do I here you ask... Well I'm basing my decision on how the captains were affected by Greandal/Hessalam's compulsion.

When it was discovered Agelmar and Bryne had been compelled, they both stated that they knew they were making mistakes after the made the order whereas when Bashere was discovered he didn't believe he was making any mistakes, insisting he had done everything right.

However in the case of Ituralde, when the army of myrddral attacked, he was able resist the compulsion to the extent that he was able to stop himself from ordering the retreat of his army that would eventually lead to their defeat.

Further to this, we never witness Ituralde actually making a mistake as we do see in the other three captains; Bryne losing two heavy cavalry units to the Sharans, Agelmar withdrawing the archers etc and Bashere not scouting the second trolloc army

Based on this I would rank the captains

  1. Rodel Ituralde
  2. Gareth Bryne/Agelmar
  3. Davram Bashere

This is assuming that Hessalam used the same degree of compulsion on all.

Edited by Kawaan
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Resisting compulsion is about strength of will, not military acumen.  I also don't think it's a coincidence that the Great Captain who resisted Hessalam's compulsion the most effectively was the one fighting in Shayol Ghul, nearest to the Dragon Reborn.

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Yeah No one said Bashere you are being removed form command because you are under compulsion.  It was you are a DF you are under arrest.  So he wasn't exactly going to take it well.  Again I think to rank them you mut know their strengths and weaknesses.  Ituralde seemed really good on the defensive, Agelmar seemed to me to be more of the take the fight to the enemy type. 

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There were 5 great captains in the main series; the 4 mentioned + Niall.

6 if Mat is counted.

 

From what I skimmed, Perrin sent word of the Compulsion; but the message seemed to arrive after the 4 were relieved of command.

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They were fighting vastly different campaigns, I don't think it's really possible to rate them based on battlefield skill.

 

Agelmar was basically fighting a skirmish war. He was outnumbered and outgunned, and he was essentially delaying them until help could arrive.

Bashere was trying to lure them into a trap, before the compulsion led him into being trapped himself.

Bryne was able to fight in a ground and pound manner - He had the entirety of the Aes Sedai with him and thus was able to fight toe to toe until the Sharans arrived.

Ituralde was pure defensive.

 

Of all of them, Ituralde seems to have held because he had the most happen to him. Bashere spent the past years smoking his pipe with Rand. Bryne spent it playing kissing games with Siuan and with an easy siege. Agelmar spent it in the luxury of his fortress. Ituralde watched and fought against the Seanchan after they conquered his homeland, then went to Maradon where he fought the Trollocs and spent weeks with his life in the balance as the trollocs rampaged through the city.

 

Overall though, the best captain without a doubt is Mat.

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I believe that all of them are equal in their own way and cannot easily be compared.  Agelmar has decades of experience fighting the trollocs and keeping their raiders out of Sheinar, Gareth and Rodel have experience with small skirmishes and both seemed to have fought in the Aiel War.  Bashere is another borderlander who gained his experience on the battlefield.  All of them are gifted and see war in a different manner than common soldiers.  They can the end result without the armies yet engaging, they can read the ground and understand their enemies in order to use it to achieve victory.  We see this when Rodel and his men win out over the Seanchan before being forced to flee to the Steading.  There is a lot of insight into his thought process, perhaps more than any other of the generals short of Mat.  We see a small amount with the others, we see them fighting except for Gareth.  He might be the weakest of the men in terms of actual warfare short of the Aiel War and some border skirmishes with the Murandians yet he is an excellent general and very gifted.  Some generals excelled on the attack, while others were better on the defense.  Rodel was good on the attack and on the defense as we later saw at Maradon.  Agelmar seemed to have more defensive experience along with Bashere due to being on the defensive in the borderlands.  Unfortunately after Maradon we do not see their exceptional brilliance nor their true capabilities except in subtly subverting and positioning the armies for epic failure with the exception of Mat, and unfortunately BS greatly lacked the experience RJ had as far as warfare on any scale.  Some places he is brilliant, others I'm face-palming as he missed obvious tactics or things that he could have used that would have been spectacularly brilliant and devious, things which were available to him especially with the resources he had such as killing wards, wards to alert against possible flanking, As Sedai landmines worked into the soil and rocks well in advance in preparing the field of Merrilor, walls of filaments that would have shredded running trollocs that Rand and others encountered used against them by forsaken.  No bad-ass blossoms or fire or any of the weaves that Rand used at the manor that Logain and the others learned.  None of the "dangerous" ter'angreal from the tower storeroom were used, all the rods, gloves, hats, jeweled gauntlets, and so forth that created fire and rent earth, and other weaves that didn't require channeling.  The non-balefire ones. Maybe I have more of an active imagination and can read into the parts RJ wrote and saw where things were heading.  

 

Mat clearly tops the other four.  Rodel was pretty bad-ass using an outnumbered force that he had to use every trick at diplomacy to forge and keep together in order to defeat armies many times his numbers, at times more than one army.  Gareth and Bashere were fairly dependable and steady and versed in attacks and defending, while Agelmar was at ease having copious amounts of men at his command, a man in his element.  One thing I disagreed with was Gareth being able to be tampered with as he was a warder and his dreams should have been protected by the warder bond, but it was a fun read and was the best that could be managed, given the situation.

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One thing I disagreed with was Gareth being able to be tampered with as he was a warder and his dreams should have been protected by the warder bond, but it was a fun read and was the best that could be managed, given the situation.

 

Well, there is precedence for this. When Rand begins shielding his dreams in Fires of Heaven, Lanfear threatens to break into it (And that he wouldn't like it). I'm guessing that the warder protection wasn't as extensive as it was thought to be.

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I suppose that could be true, but we have also seen it easily used on weak-minded people, while others like Avhienda at the end and Nynaeve a little earlier on was able to resist it.  And we see Egwene in T'A'R resist attempts of the wise ones to change who she is, what she is wearing.  Not exactly the same thing but it shows a little of what I am trying to get across.

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It was a good plot, take out all the Great Captains, but there were other areas where that shouldn't have been possible.  It was actually brought up in the book by Lord Baldere(?) when he goes to Lan to say he thinks something is wrong.  A Great General relies on his underlings and aides to help keep things straight.  Someone starts moving scouts out of areas and reserves to open a hole, someone is going to notice.  More than just someone.  Commanders in the field that suddenly see their flank go marching elsewhere are going to send messages quick.  I suppose that one would need to know the intricacies of the failings of messengers and scouts and sending false and conflicting orders with such mastery to subvert the entire army, which would require a brilliant mind, but a mind brilliant in such subterfuge.  Dark-minded generals.  Graendal wasn't such a person nor were any of the Great Captains, therefore one cannot compel a person to do something they don't know how to, especially if they themselves aren't skilled in it when laying the weaves.  A channeler that doesn't know healing can't tell another channeler who can't heal to go and heal people.  Doesn't work that way.  The only way I can see that happening is if darkfriends are in key positions to send false reports, orders, and messages, but that kind of stuff gets caught quickly anyways. 

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You also have to assume there are few darkfriends in the armies also. But it was done small, a small ldisaster here, a small disaster there.  Sp as not to make anyone too suspicious.   But from the sounds of it they would say move the pike here, then when someone would bring up so and so will blah blah will be vulnerable he would say I am moving there people here to protect them, and then not give the orders.  So many assumed things were being done but it not.  As you saw with the scout the two river assumed ashaman were doing it who assumed aiel were doing it who assumed blah blah was doing it.  During a fight no one has time to make sure everyone else was doing their jobs.  A mat said you had to be an expert to see the army was being put in a bad position without it being obvious.  As for the compulsion, Grandael did have some experience in the BWB it was described as "While not a military commander in the field during the war, Granedal apparently was responsible for a number of significant gains and for a variety of successful subervision efforts.  One source says "Granedal conquered territories as surely as any of the Shadow's Generals, but her battleground was her enemies minds".  So this sounds exactly the thing she has had plenty of experience doing, not to mention Dem was more than likely telling her stuff to implant.  Sch as The general believing they told the seachean calvary to move when they didn't.  Also I think it was mentioned something done in the dream world was stronger then in the waking world, so it seems like doing it how she was doing it was making it more effective.  A channeler that doesn't know healing can tell someone to heal, they just can't show you how to do it since they don't know it.  All they really needed to do was cloud their instincts and plant a false memory here and there.  Intralude wanted to yell retreat but his instnicts told him that was wrong.  The key is to do it small so it looks like a mistake  Granedal was a master manipulator who had Dem the shadows best general to tell her what he wanted done.

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If you will recall, this was heavily planned out in advance. Logain knew where to travel to from deciphering the maps left behind by Taim when he fled the Tower once the Dreamspike was removed and the Asha'Man went on the attack against him. The plans were mapped out in advance - All Graendal (Hessalam) had to do was manipulate the Generals in line with what Demandred had planned.

 

Deviously simple.

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I think, aside from Mat, Ituralde is meant to come out looking like the greatest. I dont know that I see Bashere or any of the rest devising and executing that Seanchan campaign. And that Ituralde ended up at the post of honor outside SG is telling.

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