This week in Reading The Wheel of Time, Rand attempts to take Ebou Dar with disastrous effects, and Elaida contends with the disaster that is her attempts to take back control of the White Tower. It’s Chapters 24 and 25 of The Path of Daggers.
Camped east of Ebou Dar, Captain-General Kennar Miraj watches raken and their riders come in for a snack and to deliver or receive messages before departing for the skies once more. His mind, however, is on the sul’dam and damane who have stayed confined in their tents. He has received reports of overrun outposts in the Venir Mountains and enemy soldiers in various different areas, and he estimates their numbers to be about twice his own, around 90,000. Time is about the only thing he has on his side, since the enemy general will need time to gather his scattered forces.
The High Lady Suroth arrives in his tent, and Miraj is surprised to see that one of her da’covale is also leashed as a damane, and her Voice, Alwhin, is also acting as a sul’dam. It’s unheard of for a damane to be garbed as property, and even stranger for Alwhin to be the one holding her a’dam. Both da’covale have a strange, ageless look to their features.
When he tells Suroth that it will be at least ten days until the enemy arrives, she corrects him, explaining that there are only about five thousand men, but that there are also fifty Asha’man and that they can arrive by the ancient art of Traveling—which means they could arrive tomorrow, or even today. Miraj wonders what sort of spies and informants Suroth has, to know this, but promises her that they will wipe the enemy out, as she commands. He asks her to release the damane and sul’dam to him, remarking that if they are still sick it will be a short fight before they lose.
With Lews Therin increasingly quiet in his head, Rand pushes through with the plan to surround the Seanchan, coming at them from every side via gateways. Rand has followed his usual strategy of pairing groups together that don’t trust each other, and Lews Therin hisses about madness. Suddenly, to Rand’s surprise, Dashiva rides up to him and weaves a ward against eavesdropping. He tells Rand hat there is something wrong with saidin.
“I don’t know what it is. Nothing can twist saidin, and if it could be twisted, we’d have felt it back in the mountains. Well, there was something there, yesterday, but so small… I feel it clearly here, though. Saidin is… eager. I know; I know. Saidin is not alive. But it… pulses, here. It is difficult to control.”
Rand doesn’t know what Dashiva is talking about, and points out that he has been channeling a lot longer than Dashiva. But the man refuses to be dismissed, pressing Rand to really look at his weaves. To Rand’s surprise, he sees that weaves which should have been perfectly steady are vibrating. When he makes himself really feel saidin he realizes that, while the taint feels the same as ever, saidin does, in fact, feel eager. Still, he tells Dashiva that saidin is still doing what they want, which is all that matters.
One of the Asha’man arrives to report that the Seanchan are not where they used to be camped; they are only five or six miles away, with scores of sul’dam and damane, marching east.
On the march, Miraj receives news of the approaching enemy. He has considered how he would mount an attack if he were in the others’ shoes, and begins issuing orders.
Bertome, Weiramon, and Gedwyn receive a scout who reports that they have two thousand Taraboners at their heels, who have sul’dam with them. The men turn and ride to engage.
Varek searches for Banner-General Chianmai, but struggles to find him. Soldiers fight in little groups all around him, and everything is chaotic. When he does at last find him, Chianmai is dead. There is a sul’dam with them, and a weeping damane. A surviving Taraboner soldier reports that they were winning their fight—there were no black coats with the enemy and the damane was channeling. And then suddenly she seemed to go mad, and attacked them instead. The sul’dam insists that her damane, Zakai, is a good damane, and Varek knows how fiercely protective a sul’dam is over a favorite. Varek tells her to sooth the damane quickly, and tells the others that he is assuming command.
Bashere considers whether or not to cross a meadow which may be a death trap. He asks Rochaid if he can count on the Asha’man this time—they have been having trouble channeling—but ultimately decides to go the long way around, and to send out extra scouts.
Rand sits his horse with Adley beside him. There have been accidents and mistakes with channeling. Adley let saidin slip and many men had died, including their allies. Anaiyella asks if it is finally over, and what more Rand wants. Rand responds angrily that he wants to drive the Seanchan into the sea, but Lews Therin mocks him in his head. Bashere arrives, asking how Rand’s butcher’s bill runs and pointing out that their plan is no good anymore. But Rand refuses to listen.
Bashere suggests that if they keep trying to catch the Seanchan general by surpise, no one on either side will survive. Still Rand insists. He is the Dragon Reborn. He reveals Callandor and rides forward, remembering how the last time he used it he had believed he could do anything, even bring back the dead. But he is the Dragon Reborn. He can do anything.
Rand embraces saidin through the sword, not knowing what he is channeling, and overhead the clouds boil. It rains lightning, a hundred bolts at a time, and before him the hills erupt, trees burst into flame, and men scream. Twice he is knocked down, and he realizes that it’s Bashere, screaming that Rand is killing them. Rand sees that the lightning is falling all around him, not just among his enemies. Slowly he lets saidin go, and dizziness overwhelms him for a moment. He goes to stand by Flinn, who is shaking his head, and tells Bashere to give whatever orders he needs to.
Elsewhere, Abaldar Yulan covers Banner-General Miraj’s body, the rain hiding the tears on his cheeks. This is the second horrible defeat the Seanchan have suffered, and someone will have to apologize to Suroth, and eventually to the Empress. He gives the order for a retreat.
In Elaida’s room in the White Tower, she is meeting with six Sitters, one from each Ajah. She notes with pleasure how they seem to want to snipe at each other, and considers her relationship to the other Aes Sedai to be like that of a mistress to her servants.
They are discussing the rumors of the Seanchan being able to control women who can channel. Velina, the White Sitter, believes the rumors are impossible, or at least highly exaggerated, given what is currently known about ter’angreal. Shevan, the Brown Sitter, mocks Velina’s logic and uses the example of forkroot as the appearance of something that would have logically been thought impossible but is in fact quite real.
Elaida’s mouth tightened. She did not concern herself with impossibilities, and if no sister had managed to rediscover the making of ter’angreal in three thousand years, one never would and that was that.
Elaida is frustrated that everyone has learned about the existence of forkroot, and annoyed that the Sitters display obvious discomfort and fear at the thought of the herb and what it can do.
They discuss their plans for the thrones of Cairhien, Tear, and Illian, and the fact that they don’t have a good plan for what to do about Rand or the Asha’man, and then Elaida gives them some decrees to take to the rest of the Tower, along with some thinly-veiled threats about sending even Sitters to the Mistess of Novices. They hurry away, but Alviarin comes in, and Elaida’s sense of power and self-satisfaction evaporates.
Alviarin takes the decrees from the Sitters and sends them off, then sorts through Elaida’s work deciding what will and what won’t be allowed to go through. Then she slaps Elaida, reminding her that only Alviarin gets to decide what decrees are made.
Elaida thinks of her Foretelling, holding onto the confidence that it means that she will eventually triumph as Amyrlin, and that Seaine will succeed in finding damning information about Alviarin. Alviarin gives her a decree to sign that states that the Dragon Reborn is under the protection of the White Tower. She is horrified that al’Thor will have confirmation that the White Tower had sanctioned his abduction, and will be even more on his guard against them. Alviarin makes Elaida repeats a catechism about her obedience to Alviarin. When she leaves, she sends the Mistress of Novices in to beat Elaida as punishment, under the guise of Elaida wanting to perform a “private penance.” Elaida thinks of ways for Alviarin to have an accident, but knows the woman would have taken precations that would expose Elaida if anything happened to her.
Mesaana come to Alviarin, who prostrates herself and kisses the hem of Mesaana’s skirt. In doing so she disrupts the illusion around Mesaana’s appearance and sees a bit of her actual clothing.
Alviarin suggests disposing Elaida, but Mesaana tells her instead to focus on finding out why the Ajah Heads have been meeting in secret, and what they have been talking about. Alviarin thinks about how Mesaana doesn’t know everything, about how knowledge is power, and resolves to look for a sister with skirts like the ones Mesaana is wearing.
In my defense, there are a lot of character to keep track of in The Wheel of Time these days, but I keep forgetting about Suroth! Miraj wonders where she’s getting all this precise information about their enemies and the rediscovery of Traveling, and I think it’s pretty likely that she’s so well informed because there are Darkfriends among Rand’s forces, and possibly even among the Asha’man. Suroth probably isn’t in any direct contact with Asha’man (though you can never be sure!) but there’s still the army and a bunch of suspect nobles to be passing the word along. Who knows, could even be Weiramon. Maybe some of his blunders were intentional? And he was having that secret conversation with Gedwyn. Which could really have been just about anything… but anything includes some Darkfriend scheming. And Gedwyn’s one of Taim’s so I’d buy it if he turned out to be a Darkfriend. Gedwyn’s also the one who killed Padros after he attempted to assasinate Rand, which could have been to keep Padros from being discovered as a Darkfriend, or having been paid by another Darkfriend. Maybe Gedwyn himself? There isn’t any damning evidence in either direction, but the idea certainly feels plausible, and Suroth has to be getting her information from someone within Rand’s ranks, I think.
In any case, it would certainly be in the Dark’s best interest for Rand’s victory against the Seanchan to be as incomplete as possible. The main instructions that all the Darkfriends seem to be getting from their higher ups is to put the world into as much chaos as they can manage, and the Seanchan have so far been great for that. The forces of the Dark wouldn’t want Rand to drive them back too much and gain his own control over the lands the Seanchan have recently conquered.
For a moment I thought I had forgotten something with Liandrin, but I went back through my notes and the last we saw of her was when she tried to use Compulsion on Moghedien. The Forsaken put a shield on Liandrin to cut her off from the True Source, making it complicated to unravel and inverting the weaves. This effectively cut Liandrin off from the True Source permanently. Then she gave Liandrin the Compulsion to stay alive, despite the fact that she’d be experiencing the same despair that is suffered by stilled women. Liandrin was then tortured while the rest of her former group watched, and finally, made a servant in the house they were staying in.
Clearly some things have happened to Liandrin since then, but we know that Moghedien’s disappearance would have allowed the Black Ajah members serving her to get away, and I doubt any of them would have given half a thought for Liandrin’s plight. If they left her behind, she would still have been in Amador when Amadicia was conquered by the Seanchan. I’m not sure what the necessary qualifications are to be made da’covale, but being pretty is certainly one, so I guess that’s one explanation for how Liandrin would end up in that position. It’s also possible, even probable, given the fact that she’s wearing an a’dam, that Suroth knows who she is.
I’m curious about how Liandrin was discovered as being a channeler. I would have thought that Moghedien’s shield might have hidden this fact from the damane—the shield was inverted to hide it from anyone who might want to help Liandrin, after all. I would have thought that as a result, she would appear to be an ordinary non-channeler.
But perhaps that is why she is presented as a da’covale. No one except the damane and any sul’dam holding the other end of an a’dam can tell the difference between a woman who can channel and one who can’t, so from an outsider’s perspective there’s no difference between Liandrin and Ryma (she asked Egwene not to forget her name, and I’m not going to either). My question is whether the a’dam can actually be used on Liandrin in her current state. Can she be compelled by another to channel? Can the a’dam control or break the shield around her somehow? That seems unlikely, but not impossible.
And even if the shield is perfectly in tact, if Suroth knew who she was, it makes sense that she would have the a’dam put on as insurance, or even as a message to Liandrin, reminding her of where she stands now, both in the social hierarchy of Seanchan and also in relation to Suroth, a fellow Darkfriend. After all, the Seanchan don’t know that much about channeling; they seem only to use the damane for war and for the “sky light” celebrations, and we’ve never seen Healing or any other type of channeling done by the damane. They might not know much about Shielding in general, and Suroth has no reason to know either. Even if she knows Liandrin’s whole story, she might very well trust the a’dam a lot more than she trusts some Forsaken’s handiwork. And to her, Liandrin would still be marath’damane—if she was placed above Suroth by the Darkfriend hierarchy then Suroth would have had to obey her, but I bet Suroth would still think about any Black Ajah member basically the way Carridin does—as something she has to accept for now but that doesn’t belong in the true world to come, and that will hopefully be dispensed with eventually.
In any case, Liandrin seems to be acting more like a da’covale than a damane, and Alwhin seems to be treating her as such, ordering Liandrin to her knees with the snap of her fingers rather than jerking her prostrate using the a’dam, and giving Liandrin servant’s work to do like carrying the writing desk. Even Miraj, who can’t fathom the idea of having a damane as property still continues to think of her to her as “the da’covale,” despite her collared status.
I hope we soon get to learn soon about why, and how, the effects of the Bowl of the Winds are messing up channeling for everyone. It never really occurred to me to think of the One Power as a finite resource, but I suppose it actually is—there’s just so much of it and it’s so powerful that it would be pretty hard to have all of it in use at the same time. But a ter’angreal that requires a circle just to operate it and then draws even more of saidin and saidar as it continues to work must use an awful lot of the One Power. So it kind of makes sense that it might be challenging to do a lot of other complicated channeling while the effects of the Bowl are ongoing. That’s my theory at this point, anyway; the problems that the damane and Asha’man are having are clearly linked the the use of the Bowl in some way, but there might be other reasons besides the theory that the One Power is “misbehaving” because it’s being pulled in too many directions at once.
It’s possible that the Bowl wasn’t used this time exactly the way it was intended to be used by its creators. Caire may know more about it than anyone currently living, but no one in many lifetimes has every used the Bowl, and her knowledge comes from histories passed down through the Atha’an Miere. That information might have changed slightly over time, or important bits might have been lost. Caire may have done something incorrect, or unconventional, or maybe made the Bowl do more than it was built to do. There could be odd effects generated by any of those possibilities.
In the next chapter we have Velina confidently discussing what can and can’t be possible using ter’angreal, and I do find it quite interesting that, despite knowing how much knowledge was lost in the Age of Legends, even a logical White sister would be so certain she could make such definitive statements about the nature of ter’angreal. I feel like there was another time we saw a White sister make such a similarly flawed “logical” deduction that boiled down to “because we haven’t seen it yet, there is no way for it to exist at all,” which is really a ridiculous statement. Shevan—Brown Sisters probably know better than anyone how much knowledge the Aes Sedai don’t have in comparison to those of the Age of Legends—calls her out on this, which I was relieved to see, but really, there is such arrogance in the way Velina speaks and it makes me so frustrated in a way I haven’t been by the Aes Sedai in a while. But more on that later, because I’m not done thinking about the Bowl and other channeling mistakes.
Now, since Rand doesn’t know about the Bowl being used, he doesn’t even have the ability to guess that the two things might be linked. For him and the Asha’man this is all happening apparently at random. They are as much in the dark about the cause as the Seanchan are—even to the point where Rand’s mistake with Callandor is probably exactly the same mistake the damane Zakai made, just on a much, much larger scale. No doubt the accident that killed Chianmai was caused by the strange misbehavior of the One Power, just as Rand’s probably was. And in both cases the leaders of these armies paid for a problem they chose to ignore: Rand decided that things would be fine even after Dashiva’s warnings, and the Seanchan forced the damane and sul’dam to fight despite the “sickness” and the obvious and ongoing concern that the sul’dam were clearly displaying.
I find it difficult to have much compassion for the Seanchan characters we’ve met so far, except of course for the damane and other slaves. But I remember when the narrative definitely won me over with Egeanin, back when she when she and Nynaeve and Elayne crossed paths in The Shadow Rising. And there are moments in Chapter 24 of The Path of Daggers that are good reminders of how such a culture shapes people. Miraj is of the Blood, technically, but ultimately a working man and a soldier. Karede is a conqueror and a powerful man, but also a slave who believes his purpose is to live and die for his owner. It’s pretty hard to feel anything for the sul’dam, but I did note the protectiveness shown for the struggling damane, which is certainly more than we saw from any sul’dam when Egwene was captured back in The Great Hunt.
And then there’s Rand. So many of the Prophecies of the Dragon speak of the destruction he will bring. Some of that destruction is metaphorical—in some cases it might refer to the changes he brings to countries and alliances, both bad and good. Other parts of that destruction are not his fault so much as they’re a consequence of his existence and the coming of Tarmon Gai’don. But the deaths of his own people as Rand releases channeled lightning that he’s not aware enough to control is a bit different from random ta’veren effects he can’t choose or interact with, or even from difficult choices he has to make while trying to unite the world before the Last Battle begins.
Of course, the taint is partially responsible for Rand losing his grip in this moment, and I continue to be impressed by the way Jordan weaves the damage of the taint into the other ways in which Rand’s mind has been affected by the things that have happened to him. His capture and torture by the Aes Sedai, the ongoing trauma of his unhealed wound and the belief he is meant to bring destruction to the world, not to mention the knowledge he will have to face the Dark One himself in battle—all these things and more are valid reasons for Rand to be paranoid, angry, and even unstable. And then the taint comes in and adds to the problems, clouding his mind and making him sick, giving him Lews Therin’s consciousness to argue with and hamper (and occasionally help out) Rand’s own. It’s hard to say where the dividing line is between “normal” trauma and the Dark One’s influence, and that really makes the whole concept much more effective, and interesting.
I wonder if Rand will learn anything from his mistakes with Callandor. He didn’t seem to learn any lessons from his underestimation of the Seanchan, but perhaps with this added disaster he’ll look at the whole situation differently. Perhaps there will be a clarity there, cutting through the anger and the muddle of the taint.
Rand wasn’t seeing the effects of the Bowl on saidin because he was too busy contending with his own taint-sickness and the ongoing dizziness that started when his balefire crashed into Moridin’s. That was so much to think about, and fight with, that he didn’t even notice what the other, less sick and less mad, Asha’man saw so clearly. I do feel like his conversation with Dashiva makes the theory that Dashiva is really Osan’gar a lot more likely. For me, Dashiva’s muttering to himself has always felt like it was a narrative red herring. I always assumed that he was not mad and that there was some other, possibly plot-important, reason for his constant muttering. I mean, to be fair, some perfectly sane, ordinary people talk to themselves as a nervous habit, or for other ordinary reasons. Dashiva seems like the type to be holding a one-sided conversation with himself about how much he is annoyed by everyone and everything around him. He’s not the only Asha’man who seems to have a disdainful attitude towards Rand, of course, but it is clear that he doesn’t like Rand and is often irritated by him, which is a little different than Gedwyn and Rochaid’s oddly disdainful attitudes, which I assume they picked up from Taim.
And then, suddenly, Dashiva comes alive, in that moment where he tries to call Rand’s attention to the strange behavior of saidin. Rand notes that Dashiva sounds like a teacher talking to a dense pupil, which made me think of Asmodean’s time teaching Rand, and also made me think of the way the Forsaken see the people of Rand’s Age—primitives who think they know everything about the One Power, but who in fact know almost nothing. And then there’s the surety with which Dashiva makes statements like “nothing can twist saidin” and when he suggests that it feels eager. I’m not sure exactly what I’m getting at here, because it’s not that different from how Rand thinks about saidin, but I do think there’s something important here. As Rand points out, he has (supposedly) been channeling longer than Dashiva, and has been instructed in channeling by one of the Forsaken as well as by the consciousness of the previous Dragon. The fact that Dashiva seems to have such a similar language around saidin feels suspect to me. Enough so that I’m ready to say with a bit more confidence that yes, I think Dashiva is Osan’gar.
And if he is, I bet he’s furious at having to follow Rand around being his bodyguard, and that’s one of the reasons he behaves the way he does. So far, though, I don’t think we’ve actually seen him do much to hamper Rand’s plans. The biggest event I can think of is Harid Fel’s death. As Rand’s bodyguard, Dashiva is one of the most likely people to have been able to find out what Rand and Fel were looking into, and it would take a Forsaken to send a gholam, which appears to be what killed Fel. And of course, there’s probably a lot going on behind the scenes we haven’t been shown yet. We’ve been privy to a lot of what the Forsaken have been up to, so it’s kind of interesting not only to not have any actual confirmation of which person Osan’gar is disguised as, but also to not even know what Osan’gar is up to when he’s not in disguise.
Speaking of Forsaken in disguise, I loved the encounter between Alviarin and Mesaana at the end of Chapter 25. Alviarin seems to be taking about the same tack with Mesaana as Liandrin tried to take with Moghedien, but Alviarin is a lot smarter and more patient than Liandrin. I thought her little trick of touching Mesaana’s skirts in a show of worship and self-abasement was really clever, especially since Alviarin’s understanding of Illusion weaves and other such things is so much less than Mesaana’s, or even than those Aes Sedai who have encountered other types of channelers or learned some of the weaves that Elayne “rediscovered” through Moghedien. I would have thought that Mesaana would have been more protective over her disguise—surely she knows that her Illusion was vulnerable under such close inspection, and even if she didn’t think Alviarin was trying to get information on purpose, you would imagine that she’d be more careful of accidentally revealing anything about herself.
I’m assuming this slip is due to that good old Forsaken arrogance. They love to be worshipped, those Forsaken, and we’ve been shown that they think of themselves as so far above anyone born in this Age as to almost be another species. I can’t remember which Darkfriend conversation that came up in, but I definitely know one of them said at one point that their connection to the Dark One meant that they weren’t really human anymore. That they were something more. And we’ve seen other examples of how that supreme self-confidence has cause them to underestimate their enemies.
Conversely, there’s always a chance that Mesaana has a special dress she wears just for these encounters, giving herself extra layers of security. A chance that Alviarin will hunt in vain for that black scrollwork. Which would also be interesting. Either way, I look forward to seeing how this all plays out.
I also was interested in the little clue Elaida misses about Alviarin’s true nature. Ironically, this juicy little tidbit reveals nothing to us, who already know that Alviarin is Black Ajah, and comes after a chapter where I am certain one, if not several named characters must be Darkfriends but I have (as far as I’ve figured out, anway) no really obvious clues as to who it is.
When Elaida goes to sign the decree Alviarin has written for her, the last line reads “The world may rest easily knowing that the White Tower will safely guide the Dragon Reborn to the Last Battle and the inevitable triumph.”
Automatically, without thought, Elaida changes the line to “triumph of the Light.” It’s not something she thinks actively about, because the action is so rote. Possibly because this is something she adds to Alviarin’s decrees a lot? Or because everyone, always, would say “triumph of the Light” without thinking. But there is nothing in that sentence as Alviarin wrote it that says the Light, or the Dragon, or the Tower will prevail in the Last Battle. It only says that the White Tower will guide the Dragon Reborn as far as the Last Battle, and that there will be an inevitable triumph. For Alviarin, of course, it is the triumph of the Dark that feel inevitable, and while I’m sure she could lie and say aloud that she believes the Light will triumph if necessary, it’s probably not an enjoyable thing for a Darkfriend to say, and it makes sense they would avoid doing so if at all possible.
And then there’s Elaida. When she first got into trouble with Alviarin I kind of enjoyed it—Elaida’s the kind of villain who’s really fun to hate, and it was interesting to see how her power-hungry and self-absorbed nature played out against that of the Darkfriends—the two were similar, and yet different, and yet in some ways not. She really did bring about her own downfall… though on the other hand, I do wonder if some of her greed and hubris wasn’t fanned by her encounter with Mordeth/Fain.
Now, though, it’s just kind of sad. She broke so easily and so completely under Alviarin’s bit of leverage, and even though she keeps trying to scheme a way out, I don’t feel like she’s being strong, or clever, or that she has any chance of getting her own back against Alviarin. As things stand right now I’d give more odds on Alviarin finding out who Mesaana is disguised as. But Elaida does have one card left up her sleeve, or rather, one card secretly played, that Alviarin doesn’t know about. And that is the mission that she sent Seaine on, to hunt out traitors in the White Tower.
We’ll actually get to Seaine next week, but as I was thinking about how much Elaida messed up and how wild it is that she never considered that her Foretelling about the the Amyrlin might not be about her as the Amyrlin, just as she never considered that her Foretelling about the royal line of Andor could have something to do with the line that was in power at the time, not the one that came to power next—that it might be about Tigraine’s line, not Morgase’s. If her act in putting Seaine on the track of “traitors” actually results in the discovery of Black Ajah sisters, Elaida will have (albeit accidentally and indirectly) accomplished something much more important than getting rid of a rival for power. Theoretically Seaine might even discover that Alviarin is Black, which would shock Elaida as much as anybody but could, theoretically, give Elaida an out. If (and it’s a pretty big if) Seaine were to discover Alviarin’s true allegiance, Elaida could claim she was being controlled by the Black sister by more than just the threat of blackmail, painting herself as a strong but ultimately helpless victim of Dark Forces. She’s a wily one, and though I don’t think any of this is likely, I do think there is some possibility.
But yeah, I’m kind of bored with Elaida now, and I’m kind of hoping she gets pushed out of the narrative soon. Unless she gets some of her old character back, but that seems unlikely, given how we’ve seen similar antagonists get reduced and shoved aside. And probably we’re building towards Egwene retaking the White Tower with the Salidar Aes Sedai, though as with all things, I’m quite sure this battle won’t go smoothly, and that there will be more obstacles for Egwene to overcome than the siege itself.
Two more chapters next week, in which we will expound more on our theories about Seaine’s work, swing over to some unpleasantness with the Black Tower, and then catch up with Min, Rand, and Cadsuane. It’ll be an eventful time as we tackle Chapters 26 and 27 of The Path of Daggers. In the meantime, I’ll leave you with a last thought about the nature of prophecies.
There is a moment in Chapter 24 when Miraj is reflecting on the fate of the Dragon Reborn and the Prophecies of the Dragon. He thinks about how the Seanchan had their own version of those prophecies before Luthair Paendrag arrived, but that they were “corrupted” just as the prophecies in this land are.
Miraj had seen several volumes of The Karaethon Cycle printed in these lands, and they were corrupted too—not one mentioned him serving the Crystal Throne!—but the Prophecies held men’s minds and hearts still.
Miraj isn’t so much certain that the version of the Prophecy he knows is the right one so much as it never even enters his mind to make that kind of comparison. It shows how ridgid the Seanchan minds are that he’s so very perplexed that there is no mention in the other versions of the Dragon serving the Crystal Throne, despite the fact that he’s aware that no one in these lands knows who the Seanchan are, or who the Empress is, or have any idea of the prophesied Return. His certainly is absolute, even more than Elaida’s certainty that her Foretelling confirmed her own eventual victory. And I think that shows why the Seanchan are such dangerous foes… and also how useless a prophecy can be if you can’t interpret it correctly. Which seems to be much more common than not.
Sylas K Barrett was interested to see Suroth in this week’s episode of The Wheel of Time TV show, and wonders how different her story might feel if Ishamael is shown interacting with her directly. Check out Sylas’s reviews of the show here on Tor.com every Friday!