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  1. Both things are true. The Creator bound the Dark one at the moment of creation. He also was bound by The Dragon in the more recent distant past. But how can these both be true? I don't think it's a spoiler to undertake the most basic leap of logic and say that if someone or something was imprisoned and then imprisoned again... it must have escaped at some point. The spoilers are in the details.
  2. A couple of thoughts; When we have PoV chapters of the Wonder Girls in the White Tower, they are basically told that they are being groomed to manage the world. "Even Kings and Queens bow to the Amyrlin Seat." They're just, like you said, kind of bad at it; the Sea Folk and Aiel have managed to play on their Wetlander/shorebound biases to convince them that they are just "savages" that there is no need to engage with. Shara is really just impractically far and locked-off, not a lot to be done there; nobody in Randland is interacting with them meaningfully, not even the Sea Folk or Aiel who are the conduit through which that interaction would happen, and who are (as mentioned) dismissed. As far as Seanchan, maybe a Brown here or there knows that one of Hawkwing's sons sailed off into endless ocean and never came back, what is to be done there? (It does kind of stretch credulity that the Seanchan, or none of their political opponents in the 900-year-long series of wars that led to their hegemony over the continent, ever contacted Randland proper in an entire millennia, as they were clearly aware it was still there and it was clearly not a huge technical challenge to do so with trained damane.) I think the big thing they lean on as advisors kind of does require channeling; to me, it feels like an essential part of the value proposition for a temporal ruler. Rulers are not people in the regular habit of ceding authority. What do they get in exchange for an Aes Sedai "advisor"? In actual history the main value proposition is legitimacy, as an advisor from the Vatican (the clear parallel here) is a sign that your rule is blessed and supported by the Almighty and His representatives on earth. I don't know if the White Tower really has that valence for the average person in the same way. So what does the ruler get? Well, if your kid falls off a horse, your line no longer is ending. If there is an assassin about to harm you and your whole party, your advisor feels in danger of her life and the assassin now has to contend with magic. To me it's no surprise that the place that clearly most consistently has advisors is the Borderlands, as the gloves are always off when it comes to the DO's creatures and that is a major occupational hazard up there. The other big thing isn't really channeling itself so much as the oaths, which were intended by Ishy to shorten their lifespans, restrict their power, and create the illusion of safety that lets the Black flourish; but does end up providing value. What historical leader would not have jumped through anything to have access to an advisor that physically cannot lie? (the problems with that sentence are explored thoroughly in the text itself so let's leave it there). The more I sit in this thread the more I disagree with my first post when it comes to Reds. They're done dirty by the narrative to some degree, and I think anyone who's worked IT can identify with the "if you do your job right, everyone thinks you're slacking off." False Dragons are relatively rare (until the Pattern decided it's time and popped out 2 of them at once), but it's textually not uncommon for a random shopkeeper's son to start having funny things happen around him, only for a fine lady in a red silken dress to show up and take him away for a bit. It happens to people connected with multiple characters, not least of which is poor Thom. Ironically enough, the designated antagonist (as @HeavyHalfMoonBlade points out) for the Tower sections.. are, to some degree, the only Ajah actually doing their damn job. All that said it's believable! I think, like @Samt says it's a great example of "managed decline." It's one of Jordan's complicated, believable characters but it's an institution. And it does have an institutional redemption arc!
  3. That is good to know, but I do think the first quote from KingK stands and the broad strokes of my argument stand as well. If I make steel and slag comes out too, I have still "created" the slag. That's not a perfect metaphor here, though, as we're talking about someone messing around with the Ancient Evil and not just materials science. I would like to to correct my statement to say that they were created by the Dark One, working through the actions of Aginor, who was creating the Trollocs... explicitly as living weapons. The Dark One rarely shares all of his power, plans, or processes even with his Chosen. I think it's pretty clear to a reader that the answer to Aginor's questions is "the True Power," which he can't access and ties them directly to the DO. When he has an intermediate step to touch the world as the seals weaken, it's through a Myrrdraal. With that clarified--they remain fundamentally evil, do not have any actual agency and remain, at their core, completely incomparable to humans like the Aiel. Distinction without a difference.
  4. These are both accurate to some extent, but let's be real they are not winning even the games they do play. The Green Ajah in particular is memed on for being the "battle ajah" but mostly hanging around the Tower having warder "parties." The blight is right there! Borderlanders are dealing with Trolloc raids on the daily. How is there not a Green Ajah quick response team? Why aren't they out there? The Greys are such master diplomats and the Blues such master schemers that the world is constantly at war and more than half of the established states have had a civil war-level succession crisis within living memory (Andor, Cairhein) or are functionally failed states (Altara, Ghealadan) or are completely controlled by insane religious fanatics that can and do regularly kill their members (Amadacia). (How has the White Tower just never really done anything about the Whitecloaks? They dramatically overextend in the Whitecloak war and the best the Tower could wrangle together, even with Tam al'Thor in his prime fighting for the Companions, was a return to status quo ante bellum? How are Whitecloaks not banned from any region where there is a Tower advisor?) The Yellows are so great at treating disease that they never once are shown to leave the tower to ever do so, the Reds are so good at catching men who can channel that the world is lousy with False Dragons, to the point where there's a retired legendary Green on standby who has to handle Taim (I'm on a roll but I do want to say, on the flipside, one could argue the Reds were unironically so good at catching men who could channel they eugenics-ed the spark out of the Randland population and the Tower's numbers were dwindling until the Pattern decided they needed some help (you could also argue the Salidar opening of the book shows how it was more accurately a downward spiral of the Tower turning inwards meaning they have fewer people looking meaning they have fewer Novices meaning they have fewer members meaning they turn more inwards)). The Whites and Browns get completely embarrassed scholastically by the first time an literal farmboy invests twenty four dollars and change into throwing together two "universities." They are not good at their jobs! They are not even rising to the challenges set by themselves and for themselves in the Third Age. They're not dunking on anyone; and those they do dunk on are carefully selected for their dunkability. And that's before Gitara Moroso has her Foretelling. To be clear, as I have argued vociferously in previous threads, this is not quite their fault. They're the 3,000 years distant descendants of whoever was left after an unimaginable apocalypse, 1,000 years ago a world-conquering hero tried his best to wipe them out, and they're absolutely riddled, completely run through with a secret murderous society that can lie that they refuse to acknowledge exists and that is intentionally making them bad at all these things on purpose by manipulating internal politics, by undercutting every decision, and by torturing and killing anyone who displays any actual competence in a leadership role. Still! It is by no means a stretch to point out that, by the time they officially gain the shawl, The Wonder Girls have surpassed all but a handful of modern Aes Sedai in effective use of the One Power, especially after Moggy and Lan break Nyneave's block for her. It's said outright by more than one character. What's always said to be holding them back is that they lack the Aes Sedai temperament. And what temperament would they have really have gained if they had stayed in the Tower as it was? Aes Sedai arrogance (they already had enough of that, to be honest), Aes Sedai ignorance, Aes Sedai complacency, Aes Sedai cowardice. Thematically it's a fun mixture of "don't meet your heroes," "what would Lord of the Rings be like if Gandalf was just as confused as everyone else," and RJ's ambivalent approach to institutions; dangerous and can calcify into sclerotic uselessness or outright harm, but are still necessary and worth reforming.. if only they had the right people in the right places.
  5. These both bothered me as well, but I've got some justifications. As much as Seanchan seems like it shouldn't last a week, I think RJ both acknowledges and explains how they can remain relatively stable. Ways include: a) The social science answer: Above all else, as in many slaveholding societies, members of the slaveholding class deeply understand their class interest. Much as business owners will compete viciously to drive each other out of business but suddenly close ranks and support each other implicitly when a worker starts talking about a union, upper-class Seanchan seem to implicitly understand that upholding their central myths--the positive moral necessity of slavery chief among them--is their first and foremost survival need. And with that comes upholding the institutions that create and allow and operate the slave system, i.e. the Imperial Family and the Crystal Throne. They might kill each other for who gets to wear the boot, but questioning the boot is immediate cause for a real nasty execution. You can see this even in actual darkfriends. b) The fantasy universe answer: The Crystal Throne is a ter'angreal that does some kind of mind control. You'll notice that all of the murder and scheming amongst Tuon's siblings is over the heir. The Empress herself is also clearly the target of schemes and rebellions, but less so from those with the access to do real harm. It's something like an Ottoman situation where yeah, the harem is a never-ending viper's pit of schemes and child murder, but hey at least the Sultan is secure in his power and the provinces are run in a relatively consistent way by the enslaved managerial-soldier class (Jannisaries/deathwatch guards). c) The lateral thinking answer: Seanchan isn't actually all that stable! The Return is made up of hardened, veteran soldiers from an Empire that's been unified for centuries. Those things can't both be true... unless, as is text canon, the army is constantly putting down violent rebellions and uprisings against the status quo. I don't have an exact quote for this but I'm pretty sure it's established that damane have experience fighting other damane, which means we're not just talking slave revolts but members of the nobility, with sul'dam in tow, rising up against the Throne. The last nail in the coffin here is that Semirhage assassinating the Empress after preparing the ground for no more than a few years is able to completely throw it into chaos. To be clear, there is nowhere in Randland targeted by a Forsaken that does any better by any means, but that Seanchan does not do better does say something. When it comes to the Aiel, it's a lot tougher. Two thoughts here: a) The social science answer: Their population density is low, but the waste is very big. It's nearly as big as the rest of Randland put together. When the Aiel are on the move in the books, it's basically every single living member of their society not too young or too old to leave the holds (which again skews the numbers because everyone who fits that description is ready to pick up a spear and fight). If you put everyone matching that description in Randland in one place, you'd probably have much larger numbers, but that never happens. This is complemented with: b) The fantasy universe answer: This is pushing conjecture, but everyday Aiel life is way more actively integrated with channeling than wetlander life is. Imagine if Aes Sedai were actively involved in irrigation, mining, and industry--there's an incredible amount that would be accomplished. That level of involvement lets the Aiel survive in numbers in an environment real life humans could not, as they have someone to heal deadly wounds with magic or find and productively employ the tiniest trickle of water with magic or know where to find animals to hunt with magic or exploit the tiniest veins of ore without digging a huge open-pit mine to look. With magic! It's really clear that Aiel as a society spend very little time on agriculture relative to what they should, or what Wetlanders are shown to; either RJ really didn't think this through (more likely let's be real, they're Fremen like you said) or the Wise Ones advantage means they can achieve bonkers yields with very little work. There's also a level of how the whole gai'shan tradition means that, like a lot of clan-based warring societies in North America or sub Saharan Africa, you have a lot of wars but not a huge amount of death, and the Wise Ones again mean that these wars can be ended when they risk getting out of hand by wizard-politicians who can negotiate over any distance or disputed territory in their dreams.
  6. Thank you for the full context. I still think it's the dagger. Issues I have with the Mat Soul theory are: - Either the dagger or Mashadar could sensibly called an "old thing," while that doesn't make as much sense for a soul - I get your argument here, that he's uniquely connected, but even in the early going before I don't think Mat is any more connected to the past than other members of the EF5. Egwene also shouts in the Old Tongue in EoTW and gets a few "Tai'shar Manetheren"s, Perrin is directly linked to countless battles with the DO through the wolves, Rand is.. well uh he's permanently bound to the DO through the pattern as its eternal enemy. Only Nynaeve doesn't really have something. The other three all have souls/past lives/connections to the past and I don't know if Mat's would be unique enough for him to be singled out/tracked. - Even if he were that distinct, several other Forsaken spend a significant amount of time and effort trying to track him down in the last few books, and never once do they think "oh yeah we can smell his soul." The thing that's changed about him between these two timeframes is the severing of his connection to Mashadar.) - The "old friend" thing also bugs me, there are many instances in the books where Mat flashes back to his old lives and, while he fights on all sides of many battles, they're all post-breaking; and even with the Trolloc Wars in that time he is absolutely never once fighting on the Shadow's side. With how often those memories get mined to traumatize Mat, RJ would have certainly mentioned if he was carrying memories of carting off children to Trolloc cookpots. I don't think "on both sides" is accurate if you include the Shadow as a side.
  7. Let's dig in. Just the Forsaken, who probably get developed the most: Sammael: Wants to be safe. Wants to set up his own place away from everything else and dig in. Hates Lews Therin (a theme will develop). Demandred: Hates Lews Therin. Is Jealous of Lews Therin. Wants to prove he's better than Lews Therin. Ishy: Has mathematically determined that he doesn't understand cyclical cosmology. Logically reasons that evil will win in the end and resistance is futile. Wants to die so bad. Lanfear: Wants to beat her romantic rival from 3000 years ago, also next steps kill and replace God. Rahvin: Pervert, political manipulator; reflexively cannot take no for an answer. Moghedien: Wants to maintain her personal safety at all costs Graendal: Pervert, connoisseur of all pleasures of the flesh in every possible way. Wants to experience them all forever. Semirhage: Mad scientist, wants to experiment with the absolute limits of human perception (specifically along the axis of pain). True-blue psychopath and sadist. Asmodean: Wants to be on the winning side Aginor: Pervert and mad scientist, wants freedom to experiment with other bodies to his hearts content Balthamel: Pervert Bel'al: Literally who idk he's like Demandred lite Like yeah, they're all bad people, I'll give you that. All of these motivations can be boiled down to selfishness and cowardice. Then again, those things feel like they would have have some venn diagram overlap with "people who would sign up with the Ancient Evil." Within that diagram, we've got some real range! From aesthetes to psychopaths to megolomaniacs to schemers, there's a real gamut of personality flaws here that, within the story, meaningfully interact. Lanfear's clashing motivations cause her to.. just do a lot, Asmodean's and Moghediens' cowardice are so strong that they, respectively, end up being windows into the AoL for Rand and The Wonder Girls, Ishmael's refusal to let anyone else kill Rand so that he can be turned to the Shadow and end the cycle vs, say, Bel'al's off-script jumping in the Stone of Tear. You've got packs of Trollocs fighting each other more than once. When it comes to third-age darkfriends, this is a true fact without an argumentative purpose. They are, for the most part, plot devices and not characters. They exist to raise the tension and stakes and make you second-guess any character you don't have direct PoV of working for the Light (and even then Verin gets the double twisty triple cross treatment). I think it's a little wild that you say they are categorically uninteresting and then name immediately two interesting ones. On the other hand, we are eating good when it comes to non-darkfriend antagonists; many Aes Sedai fit the bill, from the Hall generally to Lelaine and Romanda specifically and of course, Queen Tyrant herself Elaida. You have the Seanchan as a psuedo-totalitarian magic-slaveocracy that nevertheless winds up fighting on the side of "good." You have the Shaido, who are, for sure, manipulated by Darkfriends--but who, by and large, are just assholes. You have the Prophet and the Whitecloaks, who are both ostensibly on the side of the Light but are also such assholes about it that it loops right back around to counterproductivity. The story would not be improved in any way if we had more Marvel or Legend of Korra-style "he wants something that's arguably good but he went too far" antagonists, nor "he had to do it because Lews Therin was mean to him :C" and as mentioned, we already examples of both! One is an entire major faction! The series is replete with antagonists who are under no circumstances "cardboard cutouts." In general, I find that an inability to identify with or understand a character whose actions "make no sense" or "are just evil to the core and are therefore boring" can be either a failure of characterization (on the author) or of imagination (on the reader). There is significant textual evidence that your claims demonstrate the latter. As I said previously in this thread, I think there is a real failure here to have a theory of mind of how radicalization and membership in real-life atrocities and violent groups operates. Nobody woke up and said "hey I'm going to join the Khmer Rouge so I can do some mass murder, oh boy." They were sold a bill of goods; by the time they're driving the bulldozer over the people buried alive, their biggest concern is not being under the bulldozer. An extreme example; in WoT terms, our friend is like hey bro cool story you can get power and wealth for free it's not super legal but just like hang out with our friends what has the "Light" ever done for you, and before you know it you have the Black Ajah's finest threatening you with a Trolloc stewpot unless you locate the shephard in the picture before the day is done. This is not "petty and shortsighted." How does the average person know how Darkfriends lives are? The only way to know is to be one! Unreliable narration, including in-universe unreliable narration, is at the core of the story; how many people become Darkfriends because someone makes them grand promises, and when you try to say "yeah but.." they come back with "who told you that? A damn Whitecloak?" How is this not "believable" or "human"? What do you think a "3d" antagonist looks like? RJ was in Southeast Asia and it very clearly affected him, and a lot of the Wheel of Time can be credibly read to be him honestly asking himself, and the world, "how can someone do this--how could somebody have done this." And it is not opinion to say he comes up with a variety of textured, realistic, three dimensional answers to these questions. If all you can see of them is the shadows on the wall while you screech and wail that it's an objective fact that shadows are colorless and 2d and everyone who noticed things you did not "weren't paying a lot of attention when reading the books...." I find it really frustrating that we never see the characters wiping their ass. It seems like they always have found the time to use the toilet, but we never see it on-screen. I cannot remember a single time when it's described to us what kind of toilet paper it was, or whether they wiped front-to-back or back-to-front. Who gives a crap! We see all the characters in media res doing their thing, their motivations are all out there. Would it really have added anything to have a random darkfriend's spiral into swearing the oaths laid out for us in detail before they loom up in a random inn? Do we need a full flashback for Ingtar? Do you want one of the main PoV characters to fall to the darkness in a morality play fantasy epic? Did you really come onto a forum for the Wheel of Light-blasted Time books and say with your entire chest you wished there had been more redundant detail!?
  8. While I agree that Mashadar falls neatly into that fun "ancient but not like ancient" category that I really enjoy about RJ's writing, and that it's always a fun fantasy trope for the heroes to unlock something hidden from evil only to be the ones to reveal it to evil.. Aginor does directly point at Mat when saying “an old thing, an old friend, an old enemy” led them to the Eye. Possible ways this can make sense, in order of how much I'd buy them: 1) Ishy, as the leader of the Trolloc Wars, has tangled directly with Mashadar and there has been at least one team meeting since the two of them popped out and he's caught them up on the trail it leaves in the Pattern. 2) By the point, Fain has connected with Mordeth; even as he himself sits cooling his heels in Fal Dara's dungeons, it's possible that we now have a game of magical soul telephone: the DO can sense Fain, and Fain can sense the dagger. This also covers the "old friend" angle, as while Mashadar is unquestionably evil it'd still be tough for a Forsaken to call it a "friend." 3) The Crypt Keeper Duo were canonically very close to the edge of the Bore; not as close as Ishy, but exposed to the ravages of time. Especially with Aginor so directly connected to the Trollocs, might they have felt out Mashadar's battle with the Shadow and established enough of a connection to track the dagger? 4) Mordeth is/was a carrier of some violent, paranoid anti-shadow-but-still-evil thing that bubbled up during the War of Power, was defeated someway somehow by either side, and spread to Aridhol/Shadar Logoth in a way that Moiraine/3rd Age history would record as starting there. The story does have Mordeth arrive prior to his mind-poison spreading, eventually creating Mashadar. Was Mordeth patient 0 of a novel evil, or just a carrier/seed of an even older one that had been lurking, waiting 1000 years after the Breaking for things to get bad enough that it could again find fertile ground for Mashadarification?
  9. Aviendha is wonderful but what really makes a Wonder Girl is running headlong into an incredibly dangerous situation you are in no way prepared for, sniffing at anyone who tries to explain the previous sentence to you, bumbling around aimlessly, and then somehow (and probably with the help of a long-suffering male companion or two) making it out alive and/or having largely succeeded in your mission. See such fine outings as The Wonder Girls Take Tear, The Wonder Girls Tangle in Tanchico, The Wonder Girls Ebou Dar Escapade, or the Wonder Girls Salidar Skirt Smoothing Spectacular. Later entries such as The Wonder Girls are In the Palace at Caemlyn dealing with the Kin and Sea Folk parts I, II, III, IV, up to IIIIVIVMIVIVIVICIVIXVIVIVID get a little bad and I don't count them. If anything, the argument should probably be that Nyn and Elayne are the core members, Egwene is only along for one of those--she kind of takes the role as enabler/fixer as she keeps tabs on them in TAR.
  10. I will absolutely not stand for this Egwene slander. It is absolutely baffling to me to have a whole paragraph arguing her achievements are "unearned," when each and every other explanation for a character's power is..... also completely unearned! Your argument is self-defeating as a result. Everything you list is the exact evidence needed to argue that Egwene earned her power as much, if not more than any other character. Egwene chose to join the Aiel, yes. And she worked her ass off (and got her ass beaten off) to learn from them! She is later able to resist the Tower's coercive violence due to learning the Aiel approach to processing pain. How is that unearned? She is born with a Talent in dreaming, but her skills in TAR are earned by endless practice and experience. She is born with a ridiculous talent in the Power, sure, and also she earns her abilities by practicing with every single group that channels saidar outside of Shara (brief but intense period in the tower, forced by the Seanchan, learning with the Aiel, and brief but instructive turns with the Sea People and the Kin). How is this not merit? You seem to have missed that she was explicitly raised Amyrlin to be a puppet; every shred of material power she wielded was power that she earned through shrewd politicking. Political acumen she learned and earned from the Wise Ones and from being smart enough to know when to listen to Siuan and when to push back, a nuance that many other characters in the book treat as all (everything this person says is gospel) or nothing (woolheaded fool!). Also, not for nothing.. she is involved "in the war" from day 1, and her actions are absolutely key to winning it. She "tangles" with Lanfear at the docks (and gets horribly tortured, helpless, almost like she's not a day-1 superpower, fascinating). Multiple Forsaken had spent literal millennia ensuring that the White Tower would be, at best, a fractured mess at TG. And they did a good job! Yet Egwene delivered a unified, motivated, effective force. How? Through constant (on screen!) hard work. It's contrived, yes, but my brother in the Light you are reading a fantasy novel; every single thing she does prepares her to do the things she will do. She had to learn in the Tower, get caught by the Seanchan, and study with the Aiel; this allows her to become effective. And effective she is! First keeping the Salidar group together through force of will, and then doing civil disobedience so hard she destroys an Amyrlin seat, then directly fighting the Seanchan in the Tower Raid more effectively than literally any other character in the entire series, then taking two sides that were textually at war a week ago and leading them into battle as a unified force. Of course, to you all of these are "unearned." Every accomplishment is another sign of how she didn't deserve her accomplishments. Every conversation with Moiraine (Light forbid she question the mysterious wizard that has them wrapped up in 85 plots she doesn't understand, even the evidence that she's not a day-1 genius is instead evidence she's horrible), every miserable night she spent running laps unclothed in 30 degree weather to earn more lessons from the wizard-politicians of the waste or being pushed to burnout for living weapon purposes by a sadist using a nightmare slave collar or discussing politics with one of the greatest wizard-politicians to ever do it doesn't count, for some reason, as "earning it." OK sure. She "has it ridiculously easy." I don't... did you read any chapters that involve a Wise One? Or the Seanchan? What, in your eyes, makes a character "deserving"? What makes Rand a leader and Egwene a bully? What is the line between ambition and megolomania? Why is Thom playing the game of houses just him being experienced and skillful, and Egwene doing it a sign that she is a dishonest liar that USES people? With that established, I find it fascinating that of the 12 things you listed she was "unrealistically" a "master" of, 10 of them are just "things politicians do" and 2 are "channelling." These are, precisely the two things she spent every single page of the series, from her introduction as the Mayor's daughter and potential Wise Woman apprentice, learning (or being forced to learn) to be good at. You're gonna have to help me out here. Being the class clown and prepped for selling horses, but then bumbling into a mystical alternate reality, shouting nonsense like a stubborn idiot, and getting tricked into having memories shoved into your brain while nearly dying.... now that's 110% legit earned. Mat is obviously the greatest general of all time and it's based as hell. Don't worry about it. When it comes to relationships, I think that *just like Rand* in the first few books, Egwene is experiencing a lot. She's suddenly out of her tiny village, she's had some trauma, her and Perrin find a (relatively) safe space among the Tuatha'an for a minute.. Is it really some kind of massive character flaw that she smiles at and dances with a guy? And then leaves the next day? A little harsh. Smiles and dances were all she'd ever done with Rand! They were "expected" but not really in any modern concept of dating or "going steady"? And with that, I do disagree with a lot of the years-old sentiment in this thread that she was done dirty in this; I think it's a great example of how, as in real life, childhood sweethearts can enter a larger world, both grow and change, and realize they grew and changed apart. It's totally fine and neither of them are at fault. It's a completely normal part of life! I know only a few adults who are still with someone they were into when they were 16; RJ was spot-on with that whole dynamic. Yet for you, it is a sign she is a "HORRIBLE" person. Yikes. I don't think Egwene is a tragedy, as the OOP speculates; I absolutely do not think she is HORRIBLE, as you disjointedly ranted. As the crowd seemed to get to towards the middle of the thread, Egwene's story is a triumph. Yes, she lived fast and died young. But in that time she accomplished a tremendous amount; her death itself took two of the most powerful tools (Sakarnen and Taim/the Dreadlords) the Dark had off the board and was one of the last pushes Rand needed to understand that human beings fundamentally deserve the right of agency. All of that while having "No memories, No most powerful channeler perks, no wolf powers, no reborn guy in her head, no Ta'Verin." Good for her!
  11. The question has already been satisfyingly answered and nobody asked, but I just wanted to put on the record that under my roof, Egwene, Elayne and Nynaeve are "the Wonder Girls" thank you.
  12. That's what someone with a "strong sense of honour and a total lack of empathy is." A bad guy. It's not until the Brando books, sure, but you see Galad realize this in real time; as he sees the people most like him from the outside, and realizes that when you don't live inside a palace 'just always do the right thing' isn't quite so simple, and can have some ironic consequences. Honor without empathy describes most people who commit crimes against humanity. The natural human impulse is to dismiss such examples and say "well they weren't really honorable, duh"; yet in doing so, it reveals why it's evil in the first place. Honor is not objective. Their honor was not objective, and our honor is not objective. However, it lets us think it is. If our judgement of what to do is some abstract, self-serving "code" (that we, of course, are free to interpret as our motivated reasoning defines) and not the actual, living humans we interact with, we too are bad guys. We are laundering our regular, base, human desires through "honor" and it comes out the other side looking like the Objective Truth Of The Light. And along those lines, I think RJ does a good job of highlighting something about evil that I think is fundamentally real: the beginning is complicated, but the now is extremely simple. People have all kinds of reasons for getting into a criminal enterprise, for starting to embezzle, for signing on to the job at that investment firm. But the now, the moment when you're hurting someone for your own gain, is extremely simple. Carridin had all kinds of reasons for becoming a darkfriend, but now what he does is hurt people and try to get ahead. The magic isn't even required: as Verin shows, the process for becoming a Darkfriend isn't like being turned; you're linked to the dark one but it doesn't excise your original personality in the same way. RJ's doing "Just say no" to moral absolutism and evil. Even then, I think the villain writing in WoT is a strength and not a weakness. The evil in WoT is incredibly complicated! Sure, there's no dumb Thanos "wah wah I had to sacrifice my own daughter in order to do semi-omnicide" :C moments. On the other hand, the good guys repeatedly win because the Forsaken are competing with one another and their schemes overlap and clash. The darkfriends are all selfish, petty monsters, but they are each selfish and petty in their own peculiar ways, bouncing off each other and our heroes. Fain offers us an evil that itself hates and seeks to destroy the categorical, mystical evil of the world. I think all of this works better than having villains that monologue about how they deserve to do evil things because their dad was mean to them or whatever.
  13. I would argue this naturally follows on the paradigm I laid out above; Compulsion works on anything with a human brain, since it's poking and prodding at your thoughts directly. Nyneave can Delve for it, and she "sees" it as a web sitting on your brain, poking at it. It's a weave that affects the physical world, like starting a fire or directing the wind. Turning, on the other hand, slurps out part of your soul. It's not affecting the physical world directly, it's magic on magic. It's shown as much, much more difficult than Compulsion, and requires both the True Power/DO Energy (via the fades) and the OP through a large (evil fade version) circle of channelers. My guess would be that only people who can channel are "open" enough to those energies for the process to function and get at your soul. A neato thing I just think I realized, I've always kind of wondered why 13? Shouldn't it depend on the strength of the channellers? And I think now the answer is that the limiting factor is the Myrddraal, they're made to a template and can only "channel" so much of the TP, and the weird TP circle rules say you need a 1:1 ratio. I wonder if Moridin with Callendor could turn someone on his own, weaving both together with enough strength.
  14. The simplest answer of all is that he wasn't lying, he was just wrong. Yes, the wheel will keep turning. Yes, people will keep suffering. Yes, the world will be broken an infinite number of times, the Dragon/Champion of Light will have to go through this over and over and over again. And then some more. Forever. According to RJ/BS, the correct answer is to say "yes, and that's life, and we will try our best to do better every time." The incorrect answer is to be a coward and say "if it can never be perfect, we should end it all forever." Add to this: it's not common to "remember" your past lives (after all, in the fiction of WoT, one of us on this very forum could carry the soul of any of our favorite characters). Ishy, personally, wasn't really tied to the wheel, just the Dark One. He personally had lived 3 lives over and above the other Forsaken (waking up to mess around in the Trolloc Wars and the Hawkwing days), and his mind was completely broken. He wanted to stop existing, and if the only way to do that is to make everything stop existing he was OK with this. He wasn't lying, he was just extremely selfish and in unbearable agony.
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