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  1. Hello, all! I've been lurking here for some time and think I'd like to finally get into the mix, so to speak. Something I've noticed: there seems to be a fairly broad consensus that the Forsaken are not all they could have been. While I do agree, to an extent, I think the criticism goes further than is true. I would like to start a discussion about the Forsaken as a group, and lay out my defense of them; both in terms of storytelling, and for in-world reasons. To begin, I think I should sum up what I see as the general consensus regarding the Chosen. In general, most seem to think that as villains, they are underwhelming. They have been lampooned as incompetent. They have been written off as ineffectual. Although this is, as I said, true to an extent, I think it overlooks some important facts. Storytelling Limitations of the Forsaken To begin, I'd like to lay out some reasons the Forsaken are as they are, from a story telling perspective. If we start from some basic truths about the series, these conclusions shouldn't be terribly controversial. First, we are reading a story largely about Rand- less so since probably book 3 or 4- but ultimately he is the main protagonist (the Luke, to Mat's Han if you will). Second, eventually Rand will win. Whether he lives or dies is still up in the air- but if he (and the Light) lose at the Last Battle, the story will not have delivered. Given that, as a group, the Chosen must lose. If the Forsaken were, without exception, as fearful as their reputation would have Randlanders believe, it would get old fast if Rand always managed to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. Some of the Forsaken then, from a story telling perspective, have to be entirely fallible. A diversity of capability among the leaders of the Shadow thus makes the story more believeable. The In-World Rationale From an in-world perspective, the faults of the Forsaken make perfect sense. The series is told almost entirely through the perspective of those from the 3rd Age, 3500 years removed from the War of Power. Stories of the Forsaken have been used since the Breaking to scare children, as we all know. In that span of time, the truth about how potent these 13 people were would be easily inflated. Knowledge of specific deeds fades, while the memory of the terror the Forsaken could instill remained and grew. This leads to the belief, in the 3rd Age, that the Forsaken are much more powerful than was ever the case. This belief was wrong. Indeed, Verin had the right of it when she remarked that as knowledgeable as they might have been, the Forsaken were driven by greed and thus entirely predictable. More, not all the 13 are, or even could be, as powerful as possible. These are 13 flesh-and-blood people we're talking about; with different backgrounds, and different skills sets. For many of them, the changes from the Age of Legends to the current Age would be jarring. Many of their particular skills would not have translated particularly well. Moghedien, for instance, was a financial advisor (or some kind of investment banker, IIRC. During the War of Power, she buried herself in Lews Therin's command bureaucracy until the time was right to betray him. After her betrayal, she ran a network of spies for the Shadow. When she shows up in the current Age, although she can assume some control of various cells of Darkfriends, she is left with at best a hastily assembled intelligence capability. The same goes for the other non-military types. They went from administering a space-age level society, to trying to orchestrate events in a pre-industrial setting. The decline of communication, and transportation technology fundamentally change the nature of these jobs. Many of the military commanders fare better; but not by much. Although by the end of the War of Power industry had declined to the point that horses and hand-held weapons were more widely utilized, we're still talking about generals used to motorized transport, and weapons of which we know very little (to my knowledge, how a shock lance actually worked is still a mystery). The changes in technology have an effect on the usefulness of tactics that would have been employed during the War of Power. I suspect, given that Age's technology, battles then were fought like those today- ie: not by having two large forces meet head on. More, the military commanders (Sammael, Demandred, and Bel'al mainly) are hindered by the apparent need for secrecy while they build a power base. Unlike the War of Power, which had the nearly century long Collapse to assemble power, the Forsaken in the new Age have little more than a year to build and consolidate power, all while remaining under the radar. No small feat. On a larger scale, the Forsaken are also hampered by themselves. It is noted a number of times that they scheme against each other almost as much as against the Light. This leads to more caution than is useful, especially for the type of secret power consolidation going on. It is suggested that many of the Forsaken, even the ones nominally working together, don't even know where the others are operating out of. Working at cross-purposes, it should be no surprise that many fail to achieve their goals. Indeed, not all of the Forsaken were abject failures. Semhirage, despite a serious lack of screen time (a criticism I whole heartedly agree with) was apparently pretty successful in throwing the Seanchan empire into chaos. Messaana was able to split the oldest and most powerful institution in the land. Demandred is still at large, and as the last remaining general the Shadow has, is probably coordinating trolloc strikes. Finally, it should be considered that Moridin set some up for failure. Recall his game of sha'rah in the prologue to The Path of Daggers. It is a game of strategy and tactics, were tactical losses may be incurred for strategic gain. As Nae'blis, Moridin is the one moving the pieces around the board (despite some Forsaken thinking they really are in control). It would be entirely within his character to sacrifice certain Chosen for larger goals. In fact, without Moridin's intervention, Sammael likely would have bested Rand. So, that was longer than I initially thought it would be. It should be noted that I agree with criticism of certain individual Chosen. Some were, indeed, quite pathetic. Others were largely anonymous faces for Rand (or his allies) to kill as part of the story. Others still were of middling success- realizing some, but not ultimate success. However, as a group, they were never omnipotent. I welcome responses, and discussion about any particular Chosen and their efficacy, or lack there of. If you've read this far, thanks for reading!
  2. I'm curious about that as well- but how did they lose as much as they did, on top of from Travelling?. To begin with, although many of the experienced Aes Sedai certainly died during the breaking, at least some of them must have made it beyond. The level of skill necessary to create Tar Valon, and the White Tower seems to require at least a few people of experience to lead the show. Further, Rhuidean, although unfinished, was apparently planned along the lines of the previous age. This raises any number of of other questions. Chiefly, was the glass columns ter'angreal salvaged from the breaking, or was it created by the Aes Sedai we see in Rand's vision. I'm of a mind that it was created specifically for the purpose the Aiel use it for, as it seems too specifically geared towards maintaining the Aiel and ultimately fulfilling prophecy. As far as losing as much as they did, I've been curious for a while. If I remember correctly, the Trolloc War began in 1000AB. The Trolloc War itself lasted several hundred years, and ended in 1350AB(after breaking). We have it from one of the Forsaken (which, I can't exactly recall; Semhirage, perhaps?) that lifespan for Aes Sedai during the 2nd Age could be in excess of 700 years. The Aes Sedai of the 3rd Age did not begin use of the Three Oaths until after the Trolloc War, but before the War of the Hundred Years which begins in 994 FY (roughly 2300AB). My conjecture, based on the above is that: The Aes Sedai, not having used the Oath Rod yet, should have experienced as few as 2, or as many as 4, generations of channeling women, before the Oath Rod cut their lifespan in half (although to a still impressive 300ish being possible). Was so much lost, in so few generations? I suppose Jordan, or Sanderson now, might say something to the effect that: It can be difficult to predict what would be lost, and what not, during the kind of cataclysmic event the Breaking was. It happens that Travelling, making Cuendilar, and designing and building all varieties of angreal, and 'angreal, were among those lost. That's believable, and true, enough to be a fairly decent answer. I'd also accept that with Travelling well known earlier than it's rediscovery by Aviendha, a lot of the early story involving the journey from point A to B would have been harder to explain. Why not just Travel to Fal Dara, instead of riding there? Fain took the Horn and is going to Falme? Rest up and hit up a Gateway in a couple of months. However, the speed that the Travelling weave makes its way around the various females who can channel would suggest that if anybody had known it after the breaking, it would have been maintained. So, I suppose, Travelling was lost because everyone who knew it died, and any textual instruction was lost during the Breaking.
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