Welcome back to another edition of "WoT If?", Dragonmount's weekly theory blog. The topic this time is common misconceptions throughout the series, either by us, the fans, or by the characters themselves. But before we begin:
SPOILER WARNING. This will include content from A Memory of Light. Please DO NOT read this if you have not completed the book.
There are tons of things that we misunderstood about the outcome with the Last Battle, and other points within the series. A lot of this, though, stems from the characters' own misunderstanding of the world and their environment. We know Robert Jordan intended it that way. So, many of the things we'll talk about, Robert Jordan did on purpose—he liked to trick us with Aes Sedai words.
During a panel at the Phoenix ComiCon this past May, I was fortunate enough to listen to Brandon Sanderson speak about A Memory of Light and some of the aspects he dealt with while writing it (and in case you missed it, the video of this panel was posted here). One of the things he spoke about was his own misunderstanding about the Horn of Valere. He basically said that he assumed, like everyone else in the series, that the Horn could be used by Darkfriends. He went on to say how Harriet McDougal had to correct him during his writing of A Memory of Light. He also hinted to this same topic in a different interview:
Brandon Sanderson: I will say that, in the course of writing A Memory of Light, I learned some very interesting things that went against some strong preconceptions I had about the Horn. Some of the ideas I had, about how it worked, turned out to be incorrect.
Another idea I think the characters don't understand correctly is the concept of entering Tel'aran'rhiod in the flesh. Bair tell Egwene it's wrong:
Chapter 23, "Beyond the Stone"
"It is said that once there were those who could enter the dream in the flesh, and no longer be in this world at all. This was an evil thing, for they did evil; it must never be attempted, even if you believe it possible for you, for each time you will lose some part of what makes you human."
It's strange how this is worded. Bair emphasizes that each time a person enters Tel'aran'rhiod in the flesh, they lose a part of themselves, of their soul. However, that contracts greatly with it is "an evil thing, for they did evil." The first implies that the physical act is harmful; yet the second implies that it's only evil because the ones who do it are evil. I'm reminded of Harry Potter; the ability to speak Parseltongue is considered a Dark Art, but it's unfounded. It's more that the wizards able to communicate with snakes were evil, not the act itself.
I think we see that the Wise Ones' beliefs on this are false when Perrin is able to master entering Tel'aran'rhiod in the flesh at the end of A Memory of Light. When he's trying to figure out how to do it, he talks with Edarra, a Wise One.
A Memory of Light
Chapter 12, "A Shard of a Moment"
“I need to know of a way to enter the World of Dreams physically. Not just in my dreams, but in my real body. Have you heard of such a thing?”
She inhaled sharply. “Do not think of that, Perrin Aybara. It is evil.”
“Why is it evil?” Perrin said.
“To enter into the world of dreams in the flesh costs you part of what makes you human. What’s more, if you die while in that place—and you are in the flesh—it can make you die forever. No more rebirth, Perrin Aybara. Your thread in the Pattern could end forever, you yourself destroyed. This is not a thing you should contemplate.”
“The servants of the Shadow do this, Edarra,” Perrin said. “They take these risks to dominate. We need to take the same risks in order to stop them.”
Edarra hissed softly, shaking her head. “Do not cut off your foot for fear that a snake will bite it, Perrin Aybara. Do not make a terrible mistake because you fear something that seems worse. This is all I will say on the topic.”
Here, Edarra states that a person who enters in the flesh will not only lose a part of themselves, but they will also "die forever." We've heard that wolves who die in the wolf dream die permanently (another misconception?), but I believe this is the first time it's brought up in regards to humans. Dying in Tel'aran'rhiod does mean dying in real life, but not to the point where that person's thread ends. Only being there physically has that risk.
But why? How would it be possible for the person's thread to be erased completely just by dying in Tel'aran'rhiod? Not even balefire destroys a person's thread indefinitely.
Using speculation, I can think of one logical reason the Wise Ones would come to this conclusion. The World of Dreams—we know from Verin's lecture (The Dragon Reborn, Chapter 21, "A World of Dreams")—is one of three constants in ALL worlds. So, if a soul is lost in Tel'aran'rhiod, it is lost in all worlds, and may not be able to be reborn in its original world.
However, I still believe this is one thing the Wise Ones don't understand. Through the whole series, I haven't seen any evidence to make me believe that the ability to enter Tel'aran'rhiod in the flesh leads to evil.
Another interesting fan misconception was the idea of Perrin finding the Tinker's Song. This, of course, derived from a viewing Min had of Perrin:
Chapter 15, "Strangers and Friends"
"A wolf, and a broken crown, and trees flowering all around him."
We know the Tinker's Song was actually one of the songs used for Seed Singing in the Age of Legends. Robert Jordan said in an interview:
Robert Jordan: The Song the Tinkers are seeking is the song Rand heard in Rhuidean—or, to be exact, the memories of that song and others like it have become merged, over the years, into the concept of one mystical Song.
Since we know the Song can be used to make things grow, and we see a vision of Perrin with trees flowering, I think it's logical that we made that assumption. But, in the end, it's another misconception. Brandon said:
Brandon Sanderson : Robert Jordan's notes on this are very clear: the Tinkers will never find their song. They've lost it for too long, that even if someone stood in front of them singing The Song, they would just nod their head, say 'that's a nice song' and go on their way.
Or put a better way:
Brandon Sanderson: Directly in Robert Jordan's notes, is this quote, verbatim: "The Tinkers never find their damn song!"
Since it isn't Perrin who leads the Tinker's to their blessed song, what is up with the trees flowering around him? The one scene in A Memory of Light when we see trees actually flower is when Rand and Mat are in the Tarasin Palace in Ebou Dar (Chapter 17, "Older, More Weathered"). Perrin is present when Rand makes the trees grow in Merrilor, but that's not the same as "flowering."
One idea I have is that it could come from Perrin and Faile making their home in Saldaea. When Rand reseals the Dark One, the Blight blooms. Since Saldaea is close to the Blight, it might send all of their land into a blooming paradise.
And what of the idea that Roedran of Murandy was Demandred in disguise? Even Rand thought that. I think we were led astray on this one because of how Graendal manipulated Sammael in Lord of Chaos (Chapter 6, "Threads Woven in Shadow). Graendal used the Sharans as a method to distract Sammael from her real plans, but it was Demandred, Mesaana, and Semirhage who were working together, and had plans for Shara. Did those three strike at Shara because Graendal sent their society into chaos by taking their rulers? Or was it always Demandred's plans to usurp the Sharan people and use them in the Last Battle?
I think some of that could be answered by the short story "River of Souls," released in the Unfettered anthology earlier this year. I haven't read it yet, but when I do, we can delve into that subject a bit more. (And I'll give adequate spoiler warnings before we talk about it.)
That's all for this edition. There's an even greater source of misconception, and that's the many prophecies we see throughout the series. It's a bit too much for one blog, so we'll address those at a later time. Next week, we'll look at Rand's decision to reseal the Dark One instead of killing him. Was it the best answer? We'll find out. Thanks for reading!