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The Wheel of Time and Lord Varys (second attempt)


Lord Varys
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On 11/1/2021 at 10:07 PM, Ran said:

That term came into being 4 years after The Great Hunt. Seems silly to complain about something as outdated when your term of art comes from after it happened.

But sure, it's a classic and age-old trope that the killing of an innocent leads to the seeking of revenge.

I'm quite aware that the term was coined later ... but that doesn't change the fact that it is a sad and unimaginative plot. Even more so since it doesn't actually motivate Thom to rejoin the gang. Rather he (apparently) just murders a guy - the King of Cairhien - we never even met and don't give a fig about ... who, in turn, didn't really have a motivation to have his thugs murder Dena.

[The whole Cairhien plot ends in complete silliness when it escalates in murder. Rand randomly shows up at a burial site. Big deal. He clearly behaves as if he is the peasant that he is ... but perceptive people who are supposed to be masters at a subtle game don't realize this (which means they are COMPLETE MORONS). Folks send out invitations ... and then the next step is the king himself sending out thugs to murder an innocent bystander who he could actually have questioned or used as a hostage against Thom. But, basically, what shit is this that the King of Cairhien sends out thugs to murder and/or question people? Why doesn't he just, you know, use his ROYAL AUTHORITY to summon people to his presence? Why doesn't he send men of his guard or employ actual professional to do shadier dirty work? He is the king, he should have the largest (or at least a pretty big) spy/thug network in his entire kingdom. The idea that it was 'more subtle' to use unofficial thugs rather than approaching Thom or even Rand openly is ridiculous in light of the fact that they murdered Dena and were very quickly identified as Galldrian's thugs - meaning they might actually have been officially in the employ of the king.]

More importantly, Thom already has revenge as a motive to join Rand and the gang due to the tragic story of his unfortunate nephew. He didn't need a second revenge motive, just as he, technically, didn't need a reason not to join up with the gang. Jordan just felt like giving him a girlfriend and the desire for retirement just as he felt like recycling a plot device that was already part of Thom's backstory - just as he recycles the 'Rand reveals that he is the Dragon Reborn with some great magical feat' in the second and third book - he already used that in the first book and that should have been enough.

This whole thing is part of the larger problem of this series, mainly, the author not following a proper outline/not having a plan how to create and develop a group of characters. He just splits them up randomly, has them meet again randomly and then uses clichéd plot devices to 'explain' why they didn't continue with the new life he, the author, chose to give them ... which he didn't have to. He could have just decided that the secondary and tertiary characters interacting with the ta'veren do not try to run away from 'destiny' but actively try to become part of the grand events that are unfolding already. It was his decision to write themthe way they are.

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And the dumbness continues:

1. I think it goes without saying that the girls have to be complete morons to just follow Liandrin just because she says she is working with Moiraine, right? Why not just double-check with or inform the Amyrlin? They all have a personal connection with her, sort of, and they know she knows the truth about Rand. Not to mention that Min has to spend a lot of time with her, apparently. Why do they trust a person they know literally nothing about and why do they just buy her Black Ajah talk when, in fact, her knowing about them could mean she might be one of them. Also, it is completely contrived that Min just hangs out with the other girls for months. Doesn't she have a life of her own? This whole plot could have made sense if Liandrin had actually befriended the girls, explaining why they would trust her when she approached them with this whole thing. But I guess that's too much to ask from Jordan.

2. How dumb can Suroth and Liandrin be talking about their true allegiance in front of dozens of witnesses? Not only is it stupid of Liandrin to reveal herself as Black Ajah to the girls and the non-Darkfriends Seanchan, but Suroth actually openly talking Darkfriends stuff in front of people who aren't Darkfriends and who might very well be Seekers of the Truth, be questioned by them later, or work for them in an informal capacity. Suroth herself repeatedly points out that she might be handed to the Seekers by her superior if the man grew suspicious, so she is behaving completely stupid there.

3. The talk among the boys with Ingtar making it clear that he doesn't want to go to Falme and, apparently, doesn't really care about the Shadow prophecies in the dungeon hammers home the fact that he isn't Fain's source for the whole Toman Head plan. Verin even reinforces the idea that a Myrddraal wrote the prophecy. Ingtar wants the Horn but he doesn't know that 'the plan' ever was to get it to Falme - else he would have expected it to find there THE ENTIRE TIME. He would have pushed the gang to go there from the start - which he never did. This shows how little thought Jordan put in the entire plot of this novel. It is very disrespectful to the reader to basically try to brush this whole thing off by never actually revealing the plans of the bad guys, only having the good guys speculate about it. That's a cheap trick to make sense of nonsense.

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Getting flashbacks from all this.

Having developed a fresh interest in fantasy after ASoIaF came out, I read EotW about 20 years ago and decided WoT was not for me. About a year later, after some persuasion, I  read TGH and decided that WoT was definitely not for me. I remember feeling much the same as you about it @Lord Varys

 

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17 hours ago, Lord Varys said:

2. How dumb can Suroth and Liandrin be talking about their true allegiance in front of dozens of witnesses? Not only is it stupid of Liandrin to reveal herself as Black Ajah to the girls and the non-Darkfriends Seanchan, but Suroth actually openly talking Darkfriends stuff in front of people who aren't Darkfriends and who might very well be Seekers of the Truth, be questioned by them later, or work for them in an informal capacity. Suroth herself repeatedly points out that she might be handed to the Seekers by her superior if the man grew suspicious, so she is behaving completely stupid there.

They are all darkfriends there except the damane and they won't be saying anything to anyone and if they did, its damane, who fucking cares.

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I don't get it. It's been a while since I read tGH, so feel free to correct me if my memory is wrong, but here's what happens:

A raid is arranged to both steal the Horn and free Fain. Ingtar participates.

A Myrdraal writes the Dark Prophesy on the walls of the prison. 

Ingtar let's in the dude who shoots an arrow at Rand/Siuan.

Fain takes control of the Myrdraal and Darkfriends taking the Horn to Shayol Ghul. He heads south to Cairhein, where there's a Waygate in the home of Darkfriend, and outside the city.

Fain had every opportunity to read the Dark Prophecy, and deduce the return of the Seanchan, who would make an excellent new power center for him to try and corrupt. 

Ingtar doesn't know about Toman Head, and I have no idea why he would be expected to? Are we to imagine Ishamael tells every Darkfriend every aspect of his plans?

What am I missing here?

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21 hours ago, Lord Varys said:

 I think it goes without saying that the girls have to be complete morons to just follow Liandrin just because she says she is working with Moiraine, right?

You really need to make allowances for the fact that The New Spring retconned Moiraine and Siuan's state of knowledge about the Black Ajah in such a way that a lot of their plans and behavior in the early WoT books doesn't make sense. In the series proper they didn't have proof of it's existence respectively until Moiraine was set upon by the warded draghkar (though I don't remember why she didn't consider that a female Forsaken could have done the warding)  and 13 BA sisters escaped Tar Valon before the supergirls could return and accuse Liandrin. So, before NS they had every reason to hope that the BA was small and could be manageable. To think  that bringing Rand to Tar Valon wasn't a completely ridiculous idea and that the girls would be relatively safe there. But with all the carnage going on in NS and afterwards - like 1/6 of all AS died during that decade, and all those men who were clearly murdered with the One Power, they really should have been much, much more paranoid than they were. And of course they should have cautioned the supregirls.

So yea, the supergirls didn't know that  Darkfriend AS could lie - Liandrin gave it to them straight, so they felt that they had no choice but to believe her. Checking with Siuan would have only resulted in them being unable to go - and they don't necessarily trust Siuan's intentions re: Rand either.

Oh, and the stupid strength hierarchy was introduced to help primarily Nynaeve and Elayne, I feel, and didn't have much bearing on Egwene'sown  part in her rise to true political power. I mean, it was clear that strength was _one_ of the things contributing to an AS's clout previously - and how could it be otherwise? It is raw power. But things like accomplishments, non-magical skills, knowledge, networking, ability at intrigue, age, etc. also played a part in determining an AS's status. But then in book 6, suddenly nope. There is this rigid hierarchy and all that other stuff canniveou  only be a tie-breaker between 2 AS of equal strength. Sigh. 

 

21 hours ago, Lord Varys said:

Also, it is completely contrived that Min just hangs out with the other girls for months. Doesn't she have a life of her own?

Wasn't Siuan keeping her in the Tower, on account of her clrairvoyance? She wouldn't have been able to leave, nor did she have much to do. Might as well befriend the girls with whom she had at least something in common.

 

21 hours ago, Lord Varys said:

 How dumb can Suroth and Liandrin be talking about their true allegiance in front of dozens of witnesses?

I too thought that all the Seanchan bar the damane, who don't count as witnesses in their society, were Darkfriends. I don't remember what happened to the DF sul'dam, though.

Re: Ingtar, he could have also been getting instructions from another Forsaken, not just Ishy?

I did by chance pick up TSR first, so I don't know if I would have kept reading if I started at TEoTW. If only Jordan could have kept on on the same level. TSR-LoC are the high point of the series and they are very different from the earlier books. IMHO, YMMV.

 

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21 hours ago, A wilding said:

Getting flashbacks from all this.

Having developed a fresh interest in fantasy after ASoIaF came out, I read EotW about 20 years ago and decided WoT was not for me. About a year later, after some persuasion, I  read TGH and decided that WoT was definitely not for me. I remember feeling much the same as you about it @Lord Varys

 

Thank you. And I can't say that I'm surprised. I'm not that special a reader after all.

5 hours ago, Slurktan said:

They are all darkfriends there except the damane and they won't be saying anything to anyone and if they did, its damane, who fucking cares.

You seem to contradict the text there. Egwene asks her new sul'dam about Suroth's dealings with Liandrin and she indicates that it is not her place to question/interfere with her affairs. If we were to assume she herself was a Darkfriend she would and could have just said that - Liandrin and Suroth also made clear what they are.

I expect that some of Suroth's people were Darkfriends but we have no reason to assume that all of them would be.

And you are aware that Egwene is so talented a damane that she is to be sent the Empress, right? Just as Liandrin originally urged that Suroth take the girls with her across the sea when she sailed back. If those Seekers of the Truth are as relentless and persistent as both Turak and Suroth indicate then they certainly would also question damane. Why wouldn't they do that if they, say, were accusing a sul'dam of being a Darkfriend?

If Suroth's entire entourage had been Darkfriends then Renna would have been, too, and they would have forced Egwene (and Min, too) to join the Darkfriends rather than risk they would ever be questioned by Seekers of the Truth or non-Darkfriend courtiers in Seanchan.

You see how full of holes this entire plot and setting is, right? It is almost as if the author didn't bother thinking (much) about all that since he never intended for Egwene to go to Seanchan at all. And thinking about that ... that could have been a great plot. How great it could have been if Egwene had gone to Seanchan to start her rise to prominence there.

And while we are at it - how stupid was the original Aes Sedai making the first a'dam? No thought to include a backdoor there, a way to ensure that she herself couldn't be controlled by that thing? Because it was completely unlikely that somebody should, you know, do that?

Other thing: The one woman show continues. Now we get Min doing stuff with her dress when she afraid/agitated like a good little Jordan girl. They all have the same quirks.

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1 hour ago, Maia said:

In the series proper they didn't have proof of it's existence respectively until Moiraine was set upon by the warded draghkar (though I don't remember why she didn't consider that a female Forsaken could have done the warding)

That doesn't many any sense in context since they actually talk about Lanfear throughout the novel. She definitely could have done that, and Moiraine has no reason to believe she didn't.

1 hour ago, Maia said:

So yea, the supergirls didn't know that  Darkfriend AS could lie - Liandrin gave it to them straight, so they felt that they had no choice but to believe her. Checking with Siuan would have only resulted in them being unable to go - and they don't necessarily trust Siuan's intentions re: Rand either.

They certainly had a chance not to buy her story without better information. Liandrin could have been wrong even if she didn't lie. She doesn't tell them anything but 'Rand is in danger'. No concrete information of any kind. And the idea that 2-3 untrained girls could help Rand in any way doesn't make much sense. The Amyrlin could dispatch a lot of Aes Sedai.

1 hour ago, Maia said:

Wasn't Siuan keeping her in the Tower, on account of her clrairvoyance? She wouldn't have been able to leave, nor did she have much to do. Might as well befriend the girls with whom she had at least something in common.

Yes, but it makes little sense that she would keep her there for months. I mean, how many people could she possibly screen for Siuan in all that time? Surely all that matter. And then she should be allowed to return to whatever life she had earlier ... which she apparently didn't have since we don't know anything about her as a person.

1 hour ago, Maia said:

I too thought that all the Seanchan bar the damane, who don't count as witnesses in their society, were Darkfriends. I don't remember what happened to the DF sul'dam, though.

She is killed in a later book but nothing indicates that she was a Darkfriend. And her rather gentle treatment of Egwene also very much indicates she wasn't a Darkfriend.

1 hour ago, Maia said:

Re: Ingtar, he could have also been getting instructions from another Forsaken, not just Ishy?

Then it would be up to the author to establish or hint at that. The author chose to have a prologue where he sets up the overall evil plan. And our POV there makes it clear that the entire Seanchan plan is Ishamael's plan. He is the one who tries to prevent the Children from interfering with the Seanchan invasion.

We also get the impression that our other Darkfriends who were at the Darkfriends Social were given their directives by Ishamael - and those would be both Liandrin and Ingtar.

5 hours ago, fionwe1987 said:

I don't get it. It's been a while since I read tGH, so feel free to correct me if my memory is wrong, but here's what happens:

A raid is arranged to both steal the Horn and free Fain. Ingtar participates.

A Myrdraal writes the Dark Prophesy on the walls of the prison. 

Ingtar let's in the dude who shoots an arrow at Rand/Siuan.

Fain takes control of the Myrdraal and Darkfriends taking the Horn to Shayol Ghul. He heads south to Cairhein, where there's a Waygate in the home of Darkfriend, and outside the city.

Fain had every opportunity to read the Dark Prophecy, and deduce the return of the Seanchan, who would make an excellent new power center for him to try and corrupt. 

Ingtar doesn't know about Toman Head, and I have no idea why he would be expected to? Are we to imagine Ishamael tells every Darkfriend every aspect of his plans?

What am I missing here?

I laid out in pretty much detail what's wrong with that. The biggest problem is that the Myrddraal has no motivation to write down the prophecy if he doesn't want to move the Horn to Toman Head - which is the case. If the Dark One wanted the prophecy about the Dragon Reborn come true - and it seems that's what Ishamael wanted - then the Myrddraals would have taken the Horn in that direction even without Fain's interference. But they didn't want to take it there. Why is that?

Nor would the Dark One's plan in any way hinge on the unwanted/weirdo 'participation' of Fain-Mordeth - who longer is a pawn of the Dark One. Basically 'the plan' of those morons is enacted by people who aren't even in on it and have no motivation to follow the plan when, at the same time, the author gave the Dark One quite a few willing minions who could have enacted the plan (Ingtar, Liandrin) but didn't. Instead he chose to Fain who no longer is a Darkfriend.

That's just stupid from a storytelling perspective. Even more so, since the character of Fain - who is done with the Dark One - would never try to co-opt a plan made by the Dark One. So even if we assume that Fain read the prophecy ... reading it should have motivated him to definitely not to go to Toman Head since he wouldn't want a prophecy to come true which would benefit both Rand and/or the Dark One to some part. He was also in no position to even assume the Seanchan would be particularly powerful, having no actual knowledge about them, meaning it is ridiculous to assume he would view them as potential allies or puppets. Rather, one should expect him to hand the Horn to the Children of the Light, say, with whom he does hook later in the story, no?

And as I said repeatedly - Fain had no knowledge of nor interest in the Horn of Valere until he suddenly has it. We don't know why he would want to steal it. And since Ingtar let him out of his cell the Horn theft as such shouldn't have happened. After all, Ingtar didn't want the Horn to be stolen, right? So why would he tell Fain about the Horn and where to find it? Or the Myrddraals/Trollocs?

And, no, Fain the text doesn't tell us that Fain goes to Cairhien because he knows there is a Waygate there. We don't even know whether he knew, in advance, that Barthanes was a Darkfriend. In light of the fact that Fain actually knew where the Shienar Waygate was - having used it back in the first book - it is kind of ridiculous he would go to Cairhien for a Waygate.

The author even gives us Fain's POV but doesn't use that opportunity to explain why he does what he does. He doesn't tell us how Fain learned about Toman Head or why he decided to go there.

This whole thing is just very bad writing.

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7 minutes ago, Lord Varys said:

I laid out in pretty much detail what's wrong with that. The biggest problem is that the Myrddraal has no motivation to write down the prophecy if he doesn't want to move the Horn to Toman Head - which is the case. If the Dark One wanted the prophecy about the Dragon Reborn come true - and it seems that's what Ishamael wanted - then the Myrddraals would have taken the Horn in that direction even without Fain's interference. But they didn't want to take it there. Why is that?

Because they were taking the Horn to Ishamael? Ishamael has no reason to want the Horn to go straight from Fal Dara to Toman Head. Yes, he plans for a convergence there, and hopes to send off the two women connected to Rand to Seanchan to get them out of the way. But why should he trust the Horn to a Myrdraal and a bunch of Darkfriends, when he himself can take it there when needed much faster? 

7 minutes ago, Lord Varys said:

Nor would the Dark One's plan in any way hinge on the unwanted/weirdo 'participation' of Fain-Mordeth - who longer is a pawn of the Dark One. Basically 'the plan' of those morons is enacted by people who aren't even in on it and have no motivation to follow the plan when, at the same time, the author gave the Dark One quite a few willing minions who could have enacted the plan (Ingtar, Liandrin) but didn't. Instead he chose to Fain who no longer is a Darkfriend.

You're going to have to explain this one to me. Fain inserted himself into the plan. If there's evidence that the Dark One intended him to go to Toman Head, you're going to have to remind me what it is.

7 minutes ago, Lord Varys said:

That's just stupid from a storytelling perspective. Even more so, since the character of Fain - who is done with the Dark One - would never try to co-opt a plan made by the Dark One.

Why not? He hates the Dark One. Co-opting his old enemies plan to gain power seems perfectly fine as a motivation for him. 

7 minutes ago, Lord Varys said:

So even if we assume that Fain read the prophecy ... reading it should have motivated him to definitely not to go to Toman Head since he wouldn't want a prophecy to come true which would benefit both Rand and/or the Dark One to some part. He was also in no position to even assume the Seanchan would be particularly powerful, having no actual knowledge about them, meaning it is ridiculous to assume he would view them as potential allies or puppets. Rather, one should expect him to hand the Horn to the Children of the Light, say, with whom he does hook later in the story, no?

Why would he pick the Children first? This, again, is not clear to me, just something you state as a fact. He goes to Tar Valon later too, as well as Cairhein. He seeks different power centers to find people he can corrupt. 

The Prophesy speaks of Hawkwing's returning army, and if they've survived somewhere for a 1000 years and returned, I see nothing bizarre about Fain wanting to insert himself there. Plus, the Prophesy also hints at Rand's presence here, and Fain still feels Compulsion to find/capture Rand. So why wouldn't Fain try to go to the one place where he knows he can get both Rand and the Dark One/Ishamael?

As for the rest, arguing the Fain is going to Falme to fulfill the prophesy is... Weird? His goal is to clearly insert himself into the mix and come out on top.

7 minutes ago, Lord Varys said:

And as I said repeatedly - Fain had no knowledge of nor interest in the Horn of Valere until he suddenly has it. We don't know why he would want to steal it.

It is a powerful object meant to bring back dead Heroes. I don't need the book to spell out this level of obvious stuff for me. 

7 minutes ago, Lord Varys said:

And since Ingtar let him out of his cell the Horn theft as such shouldn't have happened. After all, Ingtar didn't want the Horn to be stolen, right? So why would he tell Fain about the Horn and where to find it? Or the Myrddraals/Trollocs?

You're assuming Ingtar had control of the entire raid. Can I ask for a source for that?

7 minutes ago, Lord Varys said:

And, no, Fain the text doesn't tell us that Fain goes to Cairhien because he knows there is a Waygate there. We don't even know whether he knew, in advance, that Barthanes was a Darkfriend. In light of the fact that Fain actually knew where the Shienar Waygate was - having used it back in the first book - it is kind of ridiculous he would go to Cairhien for a Waygate.

The Shienar Waygate was being guarded, thanks to Moiraine's instructions to Agelmar, which is something Fain would have found out once he escaped. 

As for Barthanes, weren't there a bunch of high level Darkfriends with Fain who tell him they have all sorts of contacts? I remember a scene where he threatens them with being made Trolloc food if they don't cooperate.

7 minutes ago, Lord Varys said:

The author even gives us Fain's POV but doesn't use that opportunity to explain why he does what he does. He doesn't tell us how Fain learned about Toman Head or why he decided to go there.

This whole thing is just very bad writing.

 
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I dunno. You seem to want every thought and plan spelled out, and every motivation written out like an encyclopedia entry. I'm not a fan of such writing at all. I think it's perfectly fine for an author to not give you every thought and motivation of some characters, especially villainous ones. 

7 minutes ago, Lord Varys said:

 

 

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2 hours ago, Maia said:

Oh, and the stupid strength hierarchy was introduced to help primarily Nynaeve and Elayne, I feel, and didn't have much bearing on Egwene's own  part in her rise to true political power. I mean, it was clear that strength was _one_ of the things contributing to an AS's clout previously - and how could it be otherwise? It is raw power. But things like accomplishments, non-magical skills, knowledge, networking, ability at intrigue, age, etc. also played a part in determining an AS's status. But then in book 6, suddenly nope. There is this rigid hierarchy and all that other stuff canniveou  only be a tie-breaker between 2 AS of equal strength. Sigh. 

And in the end, the strength hierarchy helped Nynaeve and Elayne very little (pretty much the only time it helped them significantly was when they ordered the older Aes Sedai in Ebou Dar to come with them to convince the Kin they aren't runaways) and the same thing could have been achieved by simply making gain status in other ways, the most simple of which would have been for them to gain it largely thanks to their incredible achievements when it comes to (re)discovering weaves and channelling techniques. Healing Stilling alone should have made Nynaeve a highly respected Aes Sedai, and same applies for Elayne's ter'angreal discoveries and all the stuff from Moggy she presented as her own inventions.

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2 hours ago, David Selig said:

And in the end, the strength hierarchy helped Nynaeve and Elayne very little (pretty much the only time it helped them significantly was when they ordered the older Aes Sedai in Ebou Dar to come with them to convince the Kin they aren't runaways) and the same thing could have been achieved by simply making gain status in other ways, the most simple of which would have been for them to gain it largely thanks to their incredible achievements when it comes to (re)discovering weaves and channelling techniques. Healing Stilling alone should have made Nynaeve a highly respected Aes Sedai, and same applies for Elayne's ter'angreal discoveries and all the stuff from Moggy she presented as her own inventions.

It doesn't help them in Ebou Dar at all. What does is Elayne pointing out that they were sent by the Amyrlin, whereas Merilille and the others were sent by the Hall. 

As we know, strength counts for nothing if the Hall or the Amyrlin gives someone authority over you, like heading an embassy.

It really wasn't for Elayne and Nynaeve or anything. If you want a reason why the heirarchy exists, Siuan and Leane make a lot more sense. RJ had them Healed, but if they were back to their old power levels, Siuan would have had a much better claim to taking back the Amyrlin Seat, and even if that didn't pan out, there's no way she'd have been able to do what she did with Egwene. She'd have been the strongest non-Hall sister in Salidar except for the Wondergirls, which just totally tanks her story of moving from the shadows.

So RJ needed a believable reason why the Aes Sedai would let her hang around Egwene (till the Law of War situation, at least, when they realized what was going on but could do nothing about it), allow her the advantage of manipulating them like a bunch of puppets from their lowest ranks.

And that sets the stage for Egwene later using the advantage of being a Novice to get the Tower turned against Elaida and for her.

I don't particularly see an issue with a strength based heirarchy for the Aes Sedai in the books, honestly. Plenty of fantasy series do just that, and with way less examination of the flaws and blindspots such a system creates. And it's not like equally ridiculous hierarchies don't exist in real human society.

And remember, while a stronger sister gets deference, the custom of not interfering with another sister's business is as strong as the deference thing, especially outside the Tower. So a stronger sister can't just waltz in and expect you to do as she says regarding whatever project you're working on. You'd complain to your Ajah Head, who would speak to the Sitters, and this would reach the Hall.

Your actual skill, charm and intelligence do matter, the strength heirarchy doesn't obliterate that. 

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2 hours ago, fionwe1987 said:

Because they were taking the Horn to Ishamael? Ishamael has no reason to want the Horn to go straight from Fal Dara to Toman Head. Yes, he plans for a convergence there, and hopes to send off the two women connected to Rand to Seanchan to get them out of the way. But why should he trust the Horn to a Myrdraal and a bunch of Darkfriends, when he himself can take it there when needed much faster? 

If you ask then question you could just as well ask why Ishamael didn't steal the Horn himself. He could have done that easily enough. Or why doesn't he show up and take the Horn? Why doesn't Lanfear who is actually in the area? This all makes no sense.

And why again wants he to send the girls to Seanchan instead of, you know, just kill them? Or forcefully convert them to become Black Ajah? They are just enemies, not part of prophecies for the Last Battle, etc.

2 hours ago, fionwe1987 said:

You're going to have to explain this one to me. Fain inserted himself into the plan. If there's evidence that the Dark One intended him to go to Toman Head, you're going to have to remind me what it is.

The fact that the entire raid was arranged at the Darkfriends Social. And the prophecy makes it clear that stuff is going to happen at Toman Head. The Horn of Valere basically functions as a bad mcguffin to draw Rand to that place. In the end, for all intents and purposes, Fain was the instrument of the Dark One. He just didn't do what he was supposed to because they told him.

2 hours ago, fionwe1987 said:

Why not? He hates the Dark One. Co-opting his old enemies plan to gain power seems perfectly fine as a motivation for him. 

No, it isn't, because by trying to co-opt that plan he actually fulfilled it. He became an agent of the Dark One yet again.

2 hours ago, fionwe1987 said:

Why would he pick the Children first? This, again, is not clear to me, just something you state as a fact. He goes to Tar Valon later too, as well as Cairhein. He seeks different power centers to find people he can corrupt. 

Because Fain has no clue about the actual power of the Seanchan. He doesn't even know they have an Empress. He wants Turak to blow the Horn because he thinks he is their ruler. That entails that Fain would realistically not assume the Seanchan are a large power. He would assess his chances to gain influence on the basis of people and powers he knew rather than on stuff he learned from scribbles and rumors ... which, you know, could have just been filthy lies of the Dark One. What evidence does Fain have that 'the prophecy' he may have read actually is a prophecy or the truth? I tell you: he has no evidence of any kind. And he wouldn't buy that shit. Why should he murder a Myrddraal and, at the same time, believe a Myrddraal prophecy?

And as the entire novel has Fain, you know, at various places on the continent where there are powers in their own right it actually makes no sense at all that he would not try to use Barthanes or Galldrian as his pawns. One is king of Cairhien, the other could easily have become king with Fain's help.

The guy has basically no reason to be motivated to try to suck up to a foreign power he knows nothing about.

2 hours ago, fionwe1987 said:

The Prophesy speaks of Hawkwing's returning army, and if they've survived somewhere for a 1000 years and returned, I see nothing bizarre about Fain wanting to insert himself there. Plus, the Prophesy also hints at Rand's presence here, and Fain still feels Compulsion to find/capture Rand. So why wouldn't Fain try to go to the one place where he knows he can get both Rand and the Dark One/Ishamael?

That returning army could have been just five guys with a boat. There was no reason to assume they would be a large force. And for all Fain knows or can speculate all the Seanchan might be Darkfriends loyal to the Dark One and ruled by a Forsaken. If I got the impression the Dark One was kind of working with a foreign power then I - as a former Darkfriend myself - would seriously consider the possibility that they are run by Darkfriends. Especially if they come back to their former home to conquer it.

Fain knows that Rand is actually at Fal Dara right now and he could kill him then and there?

2 hours ago, fionwe1987 said:

As for the rest, arguing the Fain is going to Falme to fulfill the prophesy is... Weird? His goal is to clearly insert himself into the mix and come out on top.

Which is silly because any sane person would have considered that that was actually the Dark One's plan. Especially if the Dark One had a minion write a prophecy down at a spot where he wayward minion could conveniently see and read it (which we assume - so far Fain hasn't confirmed he actually read that - in fact, we don't even know if he is educated enough to understand it).

2 hours ago, fionwe1987 said:

You're assuming Ingtar had control of the entire raid. Can I ask for a source for that?

Ingtar let the Trollocs in, so, yes, he controlled the raid as such. He is also the only source we know of who could have told the others where the Horn was. Fain had no control of events as he himself reveals in the book when he reveals his surprise about the person coming to the dungeons to free him. And Liandrin doesn't seem to have been involved much with the raid at all.

2 hours ago, fionwe1987 said:

The Shienar Waygate was being guarded, thanks to Moiraine's instructions to Agelmar, which is something Fain would have found out once he escaped. 

Is there textual evidence for (1) the gate actually being guarded (remember, they won a rather crucial victory at the end of the first book which means this may have not felt the need to do this), and, if so, the gate being sufficiently guarded so that a Myrddraal-murdering Fain + Trolloc band + Darkfriend allies wouldn't have been able to overcome them, (2) Fain finding out that said gate should/would be guarded.

That there is no textual evidence that Fain was looking for and intended to use Waygate is quite clear, by the way.

And as I said already - there is no way Fain could have actually used the Ways to get the Toman Head unless we assume he can read Ogier writing suddenly or had a built-in Toman Head detector.

2 hours ago, fionwe1987 said:

As for Barthanes, weren't there a bunch of high level Darkfriends with Fain who tell him they have all sorts of contacts? I remember a scene where he threatens them with being made Trolloc food if they don't cooperate.

Yes, that is the case. They could have told him about him. But that wouldn't mean they would have known about the Waygate there. But this is the kind of stuff a good author would actually put in his book. If the readers have to put things together on the basis 'it could have happened this way' when nothing in the text indicates that the author deliberately put clues into the text to point us in that direction then it is bad writing.

2 hours ago, fionwe1987 said:

I dunno. You seem to want every thought and plan spelled out, and every motivation written out like an encyclopedia entry. I'm not a fan of such writing at all. I think it's perfectly fine for an author to not give you every thought and motivation of some characters, especially villainous ones.

The problem here isn't that a few things that don't matter are unclear. It is, overall, a very poorly conceived plot and then, in addition, the details don't really add up. As I said, the entire hunt for the Horn plot is silly and a waste of time, just as the prophecies are just a convenient plot device to give Rand another opportunity to reveal himself ... one that was conveniently created for the second book.

But even if you accept this rather stupid plot as given - the execution makes it even more ridiculous.

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12 hours ago, fionwe1987 said:

As we know, strength counts for nothing if the Hall or the Amyrlin gives someone authority over you, like heading an embassy.

Yea, but it makes the whole thing even more absurd. A person who had been forced to defer her whole life must take command knowing all the time that it is strictly temporary and that she will go back to being an underdog and open to retaliation on the part of her stronger sisters whom she was temporarily set over. How can anybody learn and develop their leadership abilities with all this constant topsy-turvy? For that matter, how can a weaker sister  build up her reputation enough to be considered for leading a mission, when she would have been shouted down and shut up in any AS group undertaking prior to that? And even if she managed to manipulate her betters into a successful course of action, _they_ would have been the ones to reap the benefits and acclaim.

 

12 hours ago, fionwe1987 said:

It really wasn't for Elayne and Nynaeve or anything. If you want a reason why the heirarchy exists, Siuan and Leane make a lot more sense. RJ had them Healed, but if they were back to their old power levels, Siuan would have had a much better claim to taking back the Amyrlin Seat, and even if that didn't pan out, there's no way she'd have been able to do what she did with Egwene.

Jordan could have easily done so by other means. The Salidar sisters do, somewhat justifiedly, blame Siuan for what happened; she was too good at creating an impression of being broken while being stilled; her slate was wiped clean and she has to rebuild her carreer from scratch. In fact, Siuan could have been canny enough to realize that she was irrevocably compromised and not even try to regain her position. That's just something off the top of my head.

I can kinda sorta see how the White Tower could have worked as an organization even with AS having as much independence as they do, _if_ they could build up their clout and prestige through successful action and achievement. I don't see it working at all, with the immutable strength hierarchy. For that matter, the sisters would be motivated to impede stronger novices and Accepted as much as they can, to protect their own position. Nor would they have been as interested in recruiting women with strong potential, who'd be inevitably lording it over them once raised, as they were depicted to be.

 

12 hours ago, fionwe1987 said:

I don't particularly see an issue with a strength based heirarchy for the Aes Sedai in the books, honestly. Plenty of fantasy series do just that, and with way less examination of the flaws and blindspots such a system creates. And it's not like equally ridiculous hierarchies don't exist in real human society.

Sure, but hierarchies that put insompetent newbs in power iRL are usually either hereditary, or at least have said newbs being good at gaining support of significant parts of the population. Here it is just inexplicable.

Also, to my great disappointment, it was never upended. I thought that there was a lot of set-up for that, as an easy and believable way to quickly improve the effectiveness of the White Tower before the Last Battle,  but it never came to anything.   

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1 hour ago, Maia said:

Yea, but it makes the whole thing even more absurd. A person who had been forced to defer her whole life must take command knowing all the time that it is strictly temporary and that she will go back to being an underdog and open to retaliation on the part of her stronger sisters whom she was temporarily set over. How can anybody learn and develop their leadership abilities with all this constant topsy-turvy? For that matter, how can a weaker sister  build up her reputation enough to be considered for leading a mission, when she would have been shouted down and shut up in any AS group undertaking prior to that? And even if she managed to manipulate her betters into a successful course of action, _they_ would have been the ones to reap the benefits and acclaim.

I'm confused. You seem to see this heirarchy very differently than it actually is. How is a stronger sister supposed to retaliate, exactly? The only way a stronger sister can give you penance is if you do not defer to her. And this takes the form of, for instance, letting her speak first, or accept it when she cuts you off mid sentence, and these things are shaded by how much stronger she is.

This doesn't mean you don't get to speak, or act, or do anything. It's a precedence question, but not one where you can be forced into doing things you don't want to. If you're in a group of sisters where no one has any authority from the Hall or Amyrlin, and you don't like the direction the stronger sisters are taking things, you have complete freedom to remove yourself from the group and pursue whatever you want to do, and the stronger sisters are not allowed to interfere. 

Since a sister cannot lie and claim you violated the rules to retaliate against you, you'd have to actually break the precedence chain to be punished. It can't be because of something you did 10 years ago when you had power.

Siuan does get retaliated against, but that's precisely because she isn't initially able to behave according to her strength, which then gives sisters who want to vent their frustration on her an avenue. I'm not claiming this is her fault or anything, the system truly is absurd, but it doesn't stifle growth or allow outright retaliation as you imagine. 

1 hour ago, Maia said:

Jordan could have easily done so by other means. The Salidar sisters do, somewhat justifiedly, blame Siuan for what happened; she was too good at creating an impression of being broken while being stilled; her slate was wiped clean and she has to rebuild her carreer from scratch. In fact, Siuan could have been canny enough to realize that she was irrevocably compromised and not even try to regain her position. That's just something off the top of my head.

That works for why she doesn't become Amyrlin again. But there's no way the Sitters would calmly let her be Egwene's advisor if she was stronger. 

1 hour ago, Maia said:

I can kinda sorta see how the White Tower could have worked as an organization even with AS having as much independence as they do, _if_ they could build up their clout and prestige through successful action and achievement. I don't see it working at all, with the immutable strength hierarchy. For that matter, the sisters would be motivated to impede stronger novices and Accepted as much as they can, to protect their own position. Nor would they have been as interested in recruiting women with strong potential, who'd be inevitably lording it over them once raised, as they were depicted to be.

I think you are not giving weight to the custom of non-interference, but giving too much weight to the custom of deference to someone stronger. The two are both in force, with as much strength as the other. Non-interference is gospel, to the point where even sisters who are staying away from the Rebellion, when dealing with foreign dignitaries like the rulers of the Borderlands, leave weaker sisters like Merilille alone to deal with them on behalf of Elayne. Elayne, through Merilille, is able to change the entire course of the Borderland army, and while the non-aligned sisters with that army would definitely have different ideas, they don't interfere, as we see from Elayne's PoV (I'll find the quote). 

On the flip side, Elayne can't order them around either, though she's strong enough that for some of them at least, the deference would slip into obedience in her presence. 

You see this play out multiple times. Verin in the presence of Cadsuane, for instance. Cadsuane gives the task of questioning the Sea Folk Windfinder and Toram Riatin's sister to some of Rand's sworn sisters, but Verin butts in and takes over, and while she defers to Cadsuane in that she apologizes for it, she still does it, and it's not even like she's stronger than Bera and Kiruna, she's two levels weaker.

And, of course, you're forgetting that your Ajah protects you too, as do who you're friends with. The kind of retaliation you're talking about only works if you think a sister is isolated, and even there, there are limits.

1 hour ago, Maia said:

Sure, but hierarchies that put insompetent newbs in power iRL are usually either hereditary, or at least have said newbs being good at gaining support of significant parts of the population. Here it is just inexplicable.

This is heridetary, though. It's something you're born with, your strength.

1 hour ago, Maia said:

Also, to my great disappointment, it was never upended. I thought that there was a lot of set-up for that, as an easy and believable way to quickly improve the effectiveness of the White Tower before the Last Battle,  but it never came to anything.   

I do think that a lot of things that were set up to be upended, RJ just did the setup and decided there was too little time to have it happen. And I think that was a failure. Rather than have characters spinning their wheels so much, it would have been nice to see at least some of this come to fruition. So I'm with you that I think this storyline didn't conclude well. The seeds were laid for this to be upended in a few generations, but that's not as satisfying. 

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LOL, and the dumbness continues:

The Children encounter the Seanchan and Bornhald 'concludes' that the Aes Sedai started breaking their vows and killing people. He didn't think of the possibility that the Seanchan - a foreign power - have their own female channelers, using them to terrible effect. How can anyone be as stupid as that?

Also, why would Bornhald entrust a guy he thinks doesn't understand the mission he gives with informing his son and Niall about what has transpired? That makes no sense, either.

Insofar as the girls are concerned depicting Nynaeve as the big girl in charge - the woman from the backwater village - while the princess and future queen is passive is also pretty shitty. Nobody groomed Nynaeve to rule, give orders, or invent strategies ... while Elayne should have learned all that. But, no, of course Jordan can only recycle the Nynaeve-Egwene dynamics for Nynaeve-Elayne, he cannot give them a new dynamic. After all, the female characters are all the same.

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Looking at the discussion between Maia and Fionwe (and some other discussions) have kind of clarified what I find lacking in Wheel of Time. I think Maia has some really good points, and Fionwe does a good job at rebutting them. They are both right and both wrong in some ways. Fionwe always comes with receipts and can point out how something is not really like someone is saying, but while you are reading it, the impression of what's happening and what is really happening are at odds. It's the execution of things Jordan wanted to convey, but didn't do so in a clear manner.

I don't know if that makes sense. Its like Jordan is introducing complex situations and politics, but in a sketched out and not fully realized way. Think of a gymnast who tries a difficult trick and doesn't quite stick the landing being beaten by one who sticks to a safer routine, but does it flawlessly. I think Jordan wasn't quite up the challenge, but I respect his ambition. The series is often dinged for being PG. It's not actually PG, but things are often presented in passing or a fade to black way that makes the reader imagine what is happening without describing it, so it is presented in a PG manner, and that includes the plot points, motivations, etc. That is why we have some very cartoonish plots and motivations, and even complex politics (Salidar) coming across as being based on simple assumptions that seem to handwave the details and connection points to make that leap. I know Fionwe has argued for some reasons why Siuan would remember the Tower Law regarding War Powers and most would not, but that feels forced to me. It could have worked, but as presented the impression, to me, is an eye-roll moment. Making it seem like a clever move requires the reader to interpret it instead of laying it out. And while spoon-feeding readers is usually not satisfying either, there needs to be some direction to bring the reader around to the conclusions the author wants the reader to come to.

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10 minutes ago, Gertrude said:

I don't know if that makes sense. Its like Jordan is introducing complex situations and politics, but in a sketched out and not fully realized way. Think of a gymnast who tries a difficult trick and doesn't quite stick the landing being beaten by one who sticks to a safer routine, but does it flawlessly. I think Jordan wasn't quite up the challenge, but I respect his ambition.

That's a good summation of the series as a whole. Also, it's worth pointing out that a lot of the fleshing out of the sketched out plots happened on forum boards, and for me, it's hard to separate that from my memory of the books themselves. 

Maybe one way to think of it is the series acted as a good template for clever and imaginative readers to fill in detail, and the back and forth was very entertaining and fulfilling, and for me, part of the experience of the series.

It's entirely possible I'd have not quite as positive a reaction to the series now, minus the community that enriched it.

10 minutes ago, Gertrude said:

The series is often dinged for being PG. It's not actually PG, but things are often presented in passing or a fade to black way that makes the reader imagine what is happening without describing it, so it is presented in a PG manner, and that includes the plot points, motivations, etc. That is why we have some very cartoonish plots and motivations, and even complex politics (Salidar) coming across as being based on simple assumptions that seem to handwave assumptions. I know Fionwe has argued for some reasons why Siuan would remember the Tower Law regarding War Powers and most would not, but that feels forced to me. It could have worked, but as presented the impression, to me, is an eye-roll moment. Making it seem like a clever move requires the reader to interpret it instead of laying it out. And while spoon-feeding readers is usually not satisfying either, there needs to be some direction to bring the reader around to the conclusions the author wants the reader to come to.

It can be fixed rather easily, too. I don't remember the specifics of our back and forth on this, but I'd agree it's not that hard to put in some in-story explanation for why an obscure law last used a thousand years ago was mostly forgotten. Maybe there's a famous event where different parts of that law were mostly repealed, but Siuan, who has studied that history in greater detail, knows that some provisions were left in place, or something like that.

The basics remain the same, though. And I don't think it's a huge miss. It would have been if this was some recent law, but it wasn't. The Tower last declared war on Arthur Hawkwing. The specific legal consequences of that declaration are, to me, unlikely to be common knowledge. 

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41 minutes ago, fionwe1987 said:

Maybe one way to think of it is the series acted as a good template for clever and imaginative readers to fill in detail, and the back and forth was very entertaining and fulfilling, and for me, part of the experience of the series.

It's entirely possible I'd have not quite as positive a reaction to the series now, minus the community that enriched it.

And I think this is why I have a knee-jerk reaction to some on-line fans who gush over this series. It does have good bones, but the details and execution bring it way down in my eyes. I read and discussed it with friends who felt the same way as me (actually, I was the most positive about it and the only one who stuck through the whole series) and not with an online community, so my experience was way different than yours. My feelings towards the series are that it doesn't deserve near the amount of praise it gets. Praise for the concepts - absolutely. For the execution? Not so much. No one will convince me otherwise because that wasn't the reality I lived with for years and years.

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It can be fixed rather easily, too.

I know you're talking about a specific event, but on the whole - yes, there are many fixes that can be applied to make the concepts and execution line up better in my mind, This is why I am optimistic for the show and am looking forward to the changes. (I won't promise to never complain, but I'm more than willing to reserve judgement until we see how the changes unfold.)

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On 11/4/2021 at 3:54 PM, fionwe1987 said:

And this takes the form of, for instance, letting her speak first, or accept it when she cuts you off mid sentence, and these things are shaded by how much stronger she is.

This doesn't mean you don't get to speak, or act, or do anything.

If she can cut you off, she can effectively shut you up. Also, we have seen that opinions of the weaker sisters are  given inherently less weight in any discussion. We also saw young Siuan, as well as weakened Siuan being forced into doing things and IIRC we saw the same with the sisters of Salidar embassy. Sure, if a sister is in a group not under orders from above - which could also come from the head of the Ajah, in addition to the Hall and the Amyrlin, she can leave, but her betters can retaliate - and that retaliation doesn't necessarily have to involve a penance. It can also work as shutting out of opportunities, demanding menial service (like poor Cabriana in New Spring), etc. Yes, a sister can just avoid the White Tower, but isn't it a kind of punishment in itself? Never to be among people with whom one has the most in common?

 

On 11/4/2021 at 3:54 PM, fionwe1987 said:

 I'm not claiming this is her fault or anything, the system truly is absurd, but it doesn't stifle growth or allow outright retaliation as you imagine. 

I think that it very much does, from what we have seen in books.

 

On 11/4/2021 at 3:54 PM, fionwe1987 said:

That works for why she doesn't become Amyrlin again. But there's no way the Sitters would calmly let her be Egwene's advisor if she was stronger. 

If Siuan continued to play a broken woman, even once she was healed, why wouldn't they? She made a mistake when she tried to get her position back - she should have known that she was irrevocably compromised, but she was canny enough as a character that she didn't have to make it. Puh! The perceived need for strength hierarchy gone.

I don't remember - was Merilille an underdog strength-wise re: the AS with the Borderland army? As to Verin, well, she is exceptional and Cadsuane is also more respectful of ability versus OP strength than most AS.

 

On 11/4/2021 at 3:54 PM, fionwe1987 said:

And, of course, you're forgetting that your Ajah protects you too, as do who you're friends with. The kind of retaliation you're talking about only works if you think a sister is isolated, and even there, there are limits.

But weren't we told that friendships mostly don't survive large strength differences? Specifically because of the strength hierarchy? A weak and powerless sister would have weak and powerless friends.  It is not clear to me to what extent Ajah protects weaker sisters either. In fact, we didn't really have any PoVs of AS who have always been weak, have we?

 

On 11/4/2021 at 3:54 PM, fionwe1987 said:

I do think that a lot of things that were set up to be upended, RJ just did the setup and decided there was too little time to have it happen. And I think that was a failure. Rather than have characters spinning their wheels so much, it would have been nice to see at least some of this come to fruition.

Yes, I still don't understand _why_ he was so fixated on having characters spin their wheels, when he had so many intriguing plots ready to go instead.

 

On 11/4/2021 at 5:03 PM, Lord Varys said:

 Nobody groomed Nynaeve to rule, give orders, or invent strategies ... while Elayne should have learned all that. But, no, of course Jordan can only recycle the Nynaeve-Egwene dynamics for Nynaeve-Elayne, he cannot give them a new dynamic. After all, the female characters are all the same.

Nynaeve is 8 years older, IIRC, and has more experience of travelling simply and dealing with day-to-day survival. She is bossy and protective by nature and she is used to being in position of authority and being responsible for youngsters. But fear not! The characters' relationships are evolving and changing.

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I'm through book 2 and jumped right into the next one.

TGH is a pretty bad book, overall. In the end, it is quite clear that pretty much nothing made sense in context. Ishamael actually admits (!!!) he wanted to send Egwene and Nynaeve to Seanchan to stop them messing with his plans for Rand when he could have just as well use Liandrin and/or Suroth to simply murder them. That would have resolved this 'problem' for good.

Then we have Lanfear show up in the end and claim everything had been going according to her design when, in fact, we have no clue how exactly she interferred with events as they unfolded at all. That sounded like a generic nonsensical super villain line. She just spend time with Rand, but she didn't actually shape events in any way. At least not in a manner that would be visible to the reader. Also, she is there and interacts with Min, a woman lying in bed with her Lews Therin ... and she doesn't murder her??? Why??? Is she as stupid as to not realize that she is a rival for Rand's affection?

It is also quite clear that Ishamael did want Rand to go to Falme and confront him there - that's why he showed up there. Nobody forced him to be there. Which, in turn, means that the orders he gave in the beginning which were supposed to get Rand there ... but then the entire 'Fain Horn plan' definitely makes no sense.

The girls behaved completely cringeworthy during the 'rescue operation', especially Elayne, who presumes to know what fucking Rand would do in their situation - a guy she has, so far, talked only for five minutes and with whom she has no deeper connection whatsoever.

There being no confrontation with Fain and instead have Rand off Turak was also kind of a letdown. Fain made that big promise that they would meet there ... and then he isn't even there? Turak was a rather interesting Seanchan and could have been an interesting villain while Suroth - who apparently is around for a long time - isn't very interesting.

Moiraine popping up in the end for ... reasons is also kind of weird. It would have made more sense if she had something else to do considering she was absent most of the time. Verin could have continued to direct the heroes.

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