Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Towers of Midnight Read-through #39: Chapter 32 - A Storm of Light

By Linda


Ituralde POV

Ituralde wants Maradon to be a Pyrrhic victory for the Shadow with the city’s buildings as pyres for Shadowspawn.

The patch of blue sky Ituralde sees early in the chapter heralds Rand’s arrival, but it took time for Bashere to clear their way in. Meanwhile Ituralde has devised several feints so the Trollocs are prepared for one type of attack but get another.

Of the five great captains of the nations, Ituralde (and probably Niall) is not nobly born but has worked his way up. Not that the other captains don’t have great merit, but Ituralde started from a much lower rank. Consequently his strength of will and self-belief must be tremendous as a result. So careful of his image, Ituralde won’t he show any weakness around Bashere or let Bashere tend him.

Ituralde thinks that Darkfriend or not, Torkumen deserves to die for not defending Maradon or aiding its defenders. Even though he knew all their efforts to be a losing tactic, Ituralde is still dismayed that Maradon will be abandoned. His logic is in conflict with his feelings, but it pretty much has been ever since he agreed to go to Saldaea, and has reinforced by what he has gone through. Both he and Min have unshakeable faith in Rand.

I knew from the city’s name that there would be some sort of marathon battle at Maradon (see Origin of Place names article) but it is also the scene of Rand “cleansing the Temple”:

Many others stayed in the room, however, staring out at the field that had been cleansed by ice and by fire.

Towers of Midnight, A Storm of Light

I thought there was some heavy-handedness in the description of Rand’s wisdom and also his channelling:

Those eyes had changed, too. Ituralde had not noted wisdom in them before. Don't be a thickheaded fool, Ituralde thought, you can't tell if a man is wise by looking at his eyes. And yet he could.

Towers of Midnight, A Storm of Light

“He's a storm. A storm of Light and streams of Power!"

Towers of Midnight, A Storm of Light

Rand is channelling at far greater strength than any one man. Somehow he targets only Shadowspawn; there is no wasted effort or misplaced weaves. The two Maidens who witness his counterattack may refer to the two witnesses for the Lord at Armageddon in Revelation Chapter 11 of the New Testament.

Why would a Maiden not have a tail at the back of her hair?

She was a lanky woman with dark red hair, cut short with a tail in the back like that of most Maidens.

Towers of Midnight, A Storm of Light

That would be like not wearing the cadin’sor. The two go together as the uniform of an Aiel warrior. Women who aren’t warriors have longer hair and no tail. The underlined words are fairly empty filler material.

Lord and Lady Torkumen were not reacting to literal light from the weaves but Light emanating from Rand, being the force of good he created as he channelled vast amounts of saidin, one half of the True Source of the Creator, to save and Heal the Land. The Darkfriend couple was completely allied with the Shadow and the barrage of Good destroyed their minds or will to live.


Rand can’t do everything. He needs to confront the Dark One at Shayol Ghul, and not be provoked into rage and destruction elsewhere. Rand must feel though, and express those feelings, or else his spirit breaks. While Rand rejected Cadsuane’s counsel of laughter and tears, his post-epiphany realisation that he should not harden himself or repress his feelings is a variant of her metaphor of the willow bending with the wind, while the rigid oak breaks. So he is following her advice in a way.

Rand will use himself up saving the Land to a larger degree than we just saw at Maradon. Even Min accepts this. Instead of insisting that he will die when Min says he won’t, Rand now says that maybe she’ll prevent it. Both changes really emphasise how much his mental health has improved.

Callandor is probably called the blade of ruin because it opens Rand or weakens him so that he - presumably his soul or spirit – can be assailed. Is this the case even if two women provide stability by linking with him when he uses the sa’angreal? They would also witness what Rand does if he uses Callandor to fight the Dark One, mirroring the two Maidens in this chapter.

Merise notices Rand can hardly stand, yet scolds him about Cadsuane. Maybe she is this harsh or merciless, or maybe she thinks she can seize his moment of weakness to improve Cadsuane’s standing. By the way Cadsuane interrupts her, she doesn’t agree with this tactic, although it’s not clear whether this is because it is cruel or futile.

Verin’s letter told Rand that Mattin Stepaneos is in the Tower and Rand realised there was hope that Alsalam was also kidnapped by Aes Sedai. Min worried that bothering Rand with Cadsuane would tire Rand further, but actually the outcome makes him happy and relieved that Alsalam wasn’t destroyed by Graendal or his balefire. Alsalam being the King, perhaps he is a symbol that Arad Doman too can be restored.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Towers of Midnight Read-Through #38: Chapter 31 - Into the Void

By Linda


The Dusty Wheel inn, aka the Rumour Wheel, with innkeeper Hatch, is a nod to Theoryland and webmaster and beta reader Matt Hatch, and the way the clientele discuss possible events while overlooking a real event – a legendary character in the inn - until late in his visit is perhaps a teasing reflection of what goes on there.

Mat seems to be mastering the art of flirting while claiming to be unavailable, and attracting women who like the challenge. Unfortunately I thought the repetition of the joke was over-done and his protestations of innocence tiresome by the end of the book.

The dice, his mental warning signal, stopped when he left the inn, confirming that danger is imminent because spies (probably the very ones he noticed) had reported his location to the Shadow and the gholam. Mat leaves his scarf on the ground, openly revealing himself to all, like a declaration of war. On this occasion he is consciously dancing with death (Jak o’the Shadows) and accepts it. Jak o’the Shadows is his signature tune – a dance about death as well as with death. It’s a grim joke, but then his role as an expounder of the art of war is grim. The dance of death motif is an important part of Mat’s character (see essay), particularly in this chapter, where it ties in neatly with war, gambling and the underworld.

Mat’s tactics are to get his soldiers to fight off the Darkfriend ambushers to force the gholam itself to attack. The downside is that the gholam is likely to attack his men because they would be easier prey. The fact that a few groups of Darkfriends were sent first shows how wary the gholam is of Mat.

Mat feels stupid – a fool, another major motif of his character – rather than heroic offering himself for bait. (But he is an even mix of both overall). In contrast, Elayne does not feel so vulnerable when she bails up the Black Ajah. She is overconfident compared to Mat. Mat thinks he would have run and avoided this confrontation, if he hadn’t sworn the oath to Verin. Talmanes was also very brave in this scene, taking the lantern before the gholam could extinguish it and helping Mat lure the gholam into the burning building.

The gholam appears more monster-like among the flames, with its smiles and its eyes seeming to glow in deep sockets and is an infernal or underworld creature. It is interesting that the gholam was pained by a blow to its crotch, yet as a man-made creature it shouldn’t have needed genitalia. Severing its Achilles tendon had no effect, but the ashandarei did cut off its fingers. This is a hint of the ashandarei’s special properties, which will be even more obvious when Mat visits the underworld/otherworld of the *Finns. The ashandarei is something like Death’s scythe, however Mat is not Death (that’s Moridin) but King of the Dead. Many of Mat’s motifs are shown in this chapter, and without them being laboured.

Mat had no way of knowing if Elayne’s ter’angreal would hurt the gholam. It was a terrible gamble and he was lucky they worked. But then, as Fortune’s favourite (Fortuona’s consort), Mat was able to win against loaded dice earlier in the scene.

The trap required a lot of coordination and some trickery, the latter usually Mat's trademark, but this time Elayne and Birgitte designed it. The gholam was rushed into it, and kept under pressure. The fires were to be a distraction while the gateway was made, although the monster still sensed the Kin and their channelling. Apparently gholam are the only Shadowspawn that can survive going through a gateway. It was a Skimming gateway, and only the entry gateway, so there was no exit.

Sumeko is insulted that Mat wouldn’t let the Kin try to kill the gholam, but he is right, they would have been killed. The bungling she complained of was due to it being aware of them. Their flows will not touch the gholam because it has properties like the weave-breaking ter’angreal. I think the ter’angreal injure it due to some type of interference, since two ter’angreal with similar function used in close proximity often develop interference and can be damaged by it. A’dam are an obvious exception but they are “closed” in function, being designed to form a forced link. Mat intends to give the two ter’angreal Elayne made to Olver and Tuon.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Towers of Midnight Read-Through #37: Chapter 30 - Men Dream Here

By Linda


Faile POV

The delay Perrin negotiated with the Whitecloaks is being used to replace the weapons that were lost during the bubble of evil. I guess some must have been broken to make them “not weapons” and thus deactivate them before the simple earthing trick was discovered by Berelain.

Poor Faile, so carefully making plans behind Perrin’s back for him to be rescued from the trial if necessary, when he was expecting her to do so. But it makes her feel better.

Perrin POV

By accepting and developing both sides of himself – man and wolf, creator and dreamer, Perrin will be better integrated and more balanced. Earlier he had mistakenly thought suppression of his wolf-side was the answer.

In this chapter Perrin learns to impose his will on Tel’aran’rhiod, but also to expect that others will do the same. He wants to become stronger in Tel’aran’rhiod very quickly, so Hopper shows him how to gain strength from nightmares:

“Hunting in the fear dreams will teach you strength.”

Towers of Midnight, Men Dream Here

It is similar to forcing channellers to gain their strength, and as dangerous, if not more so, since nightmares are immediately dangerous, whereas forced channelling is potentially dangerous.

The Strength motif of Perrin’s character features in this scene (see Perrin essay). Perrin started off with obvious physical strength developed as an apprentice, but always had mental strength too: to not shirk tasks when they got hard or dull, then to keep fighting even though experiencing horrors, etc.

Perrin lasted longer in the nightmare than Hopper expected because it was about Rand, and so was obviously not real. This was “fortuitous” because Perrin was caught up in it at first until he found out Rand was the monster. As Perrin’s animal spirit guide, Hopper showed Perrin how to make the bad dream vanish. Wolves don’t have nightmares, or if they do, they are nowhere near as strong as human nightmares. The animals don’t have the imagination for it, whereas people do. The woman dreamed of Rand with fiery staring eyes – one of traditional features of dragons in myth.

Hopper is aware that Rand is on Dragonmount deciding whether to destroy the world or not. The storm in Tel’aran’rhiod is a reflection of, or a reaction to, Rand’s internal storm. At first Perrin doesn’t realise that it is Rand’s choice whether the Last Battle happens.

In Perrin’s eyes, Dragonmount is a

monstrous peak. The tomb of the Dragon, Lews Therin. It was a monument to his madness, to both his failure and his success. His pride and his self-sacrifice.

Towers of Midnight, Men Dream Here

Perrin’s negative reaction to Dragonmount is an interesting link to how some people see Rand as a monster dragon of nightmare.

Either the Last Battle occurs, or the Pattern is broken by the Dark One. Rather academic, but is the alternative to the Last Battle literally nothingness as in Hopper’s sending to Perrin? It is said the Dark One will re-make the world in his image, so I guess the nothing in Hopper’s thoughts is the discontinuity between the current world and whatever the Dark One creates. The Dark One has gone to a lot of trouble to get someone to open the Bore, so if he were free, I would expect him to do something more interesting than replace the universe with a vacuum. Moridin craves nothingness, but may not get his wish for it if the Dark One wins.

Hopper can’t resist the storm, but Perrin has the fortitude to persist. Also, he is needed as a witness, and need in Tel’aran’rhiod makes a difference. In this case it helps him move around within the storm.

Rand looks eastward in the darkness, which is towards where the sun rises. He is a solar character, a parallel of Sol Invictus, the unconquered Sun. It was evening when Perrin went into the dream and he trained there for a while increasing his strength and skill in a very timely manner. The sun shines when Rand wins his battle against darkness but we did not see a sunrise. Since the sun hangs directly above Rand, his epiphany occurred at noon. This is the time that the Dark One’s power is weakest.

Rand is wearing red and black, a reminder that his link with Moridin adds to his despair. Each is mirroring the other even though they are on opposite sides of the moral divide. It is another example of wrongness. The Dark One is doing his best to bring Rand over to his side. There is the risk of course that Rand’s goodness will lessen Moridin’s evil. Certainly the strain of being linked to Rand and feeling what he arranged for Rand to go through has sapped Moridin. He is not coping with the taste of his own medicine.

The image of Perrin with ice in his beard resisting the wind’s blast reminded me of his parallel, the Norse god Thor, fighting an ice giant. The Last Hunt is a parallel of the Wild Hunt, and also of Ragnarok, the final battle of Norse myth, when the gods and their foes the giants destroy each other.

Rand’s clothes don’t move in the wind, just as a Myrddraal’s don’t. Like them, he is slightly out of phase with reality, in this case the reality of Tel’aran’rhiod. Rand is exuding evil.

Perrin wills Rand to resist being overwhelmed by darkness. Did he make any difference? Perrin seems to think he didn’t; that Rand wasn’t really there and also that Perrin was focussed on not blowing away and. Moreover the choice was Rand’s to make. On the other hand, some things are more real or stronger in Tel’aran’rhiod than in the waking world, and Perrin is a strength figure.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Towers of Midnight Read-Through #36: Chapter 29 - A Terrible Feeling

By Linda


Faile POV

Having finally cleared his name regarding his fidelity, it is now time for Perrin to explain his Whitecloak crimes:

"It bothers Perrin when people think he did something wrong. As long as the Whitecloaks continue to insist he is a murderer, his name will not be clear." He was being bullheaded and foolish, but there was a nobility about it.

Towers of Midnight, A Terrible Feeling
Faile loves Perrin’s honour and strength. Borderlanders respect strength and also have a strong sense of honour, as we are seeing with Yoeli, Faile’s fellow countryman defending Maradon, and the Borderlander rulers. While Faile trusts Morgase to be just, she is naturally worried that the trial could go against Perrin.

Berelain assumes everyone is manipulative and subtle like her – but then she has had to assume this for her own political survival. Faile comes from a region where they can’t afford the distraction of political games, and, not having had to expect the worst of people, understands individual variation better.

When she had her viewing of Berelain falling for a man in white, Min commented that Berelain had no shame (Lord of Chaos, Thorns). An example of Berelain’s lack of shame in love is her continued efforts to find any excuse to go see Galad. She showed little restraint or care about others in her pursuit of Perrin either, though that was desire, not love.

Alliandre casually provides further opportunities to discuss Galad. She may be trying to confirm Berelain’s feelings for future reference, or just distracting the other two women from the topic of Perrin. It must have been tiresome to have the front seat while their fight over Perrin went on.

When Faile thinks the Commander of the Whitecloaks is not a good marriage prospect for a ruler, she is probably thinking of how unpopular Whitecloaks are, and their tendency to takeover nations. On the question of how would Berelain and Galad manage their respective positions and responsibilities, the Whitecloaks could settle in Mayene, since they no longer have Amadicia and their presence would keep Tear out. Or the Children could establish in an ‘empty’ area and Galad and Berelain could use Travelling to be together.

Alliandre abruptly brings up Morgase. She and Faile are angry with Morgase for not telling them her identity, when Alliandre, at least, thought they had become friends in their trials. The captives abandoned ranks so all could survive together, but it turns out the three women were all roughly of the same rank anyway. Berelain and Perrin think that Morgase’s reticence is reasonable, but then they weren’t taken by the Shaido.

The bubble of evil turned people’s weapons against them, to bring fear and despair. Things designed to protect are now attacking their owners. It fits in with what people are feeling: Faile worries that Perrin’s nobility could be turned against him, Galad that his leniency to Perrin will be the undoing of the Children, while Perrin is stalling to find out whether there is a trap, but that gives the ambush more time to be set up…. Berelain was the first to identify the bubble of evil and the solution to deactivating their weapons. Faile saves Berelain even while reflecting on how trying Berelain is.

The fingerroot trees in this scene appear to be like freshwater mangroves. True mangroves usually grow in brackish water.

Morgase POV

A mentoring mother, Morgase watches out for the weaknesses and strengths of her children and tries to bolster them. She is aware that Elayne uses knowledge as a weapon to get ahead of others, outdo them, or undo them. Galad has very high principles, but a simple definition of morality, whereas Morgase believes that sometimes there is no possible moral ground:

Shown him that the world was not black and white—it wasn't even gray. It was full of colors that sometimes didn't fit into any spectrum of morality.

Towers of Midnight, A Terrible Feeling
Later in this book we see the Seanchan who are both very good and very bad at the same time and the amoral *Finns.

Galad thinks Valda deserved death for raping Morgase, and betraying her trust. He has some moral confusion because he was only half right about Valda’s crimes, yet is glad that he killed him. Morgase will use this to widen Galad’s understanding of people and their circumstances and failings. It will prevent him from being judgmental of others. Too many of the Children succumb to self-righteousness. Both Galad and Berelain have fairly inflexible systems for dealing with people and situations: Galad is too straightforward and polarised, Berelain too Machiavellian. It should in an interesting relationship.

Morgase respects Galad’s choices. Some were better than her own, in her opinion. This is quite a thing for her to admit, considering how she felt about Whitecloaks even before she went to them, and what she experienced at their hands.

While Galad listened to Morgase’s belief that Valda was behind Niall’s murder (correct), he doesn’t include that in Valda’s crimes since he has no evidence.

Galad is disapproving of even the possibility that Morgase might be advocating Perrin not be punished for his crime. Morgase judges Perrin to be good and is prepared to find that his crime might have extenuating circumstances, especially knowing Whitecloaks. She shows Galad the downside of capital punishment – that if someone is wrongly convicted the punishment cannot be undone – and that no judge is infallible.

Morgase is surprised that she respects Niall and has fond memories of their games of go. It might surprise her that Niall felt the same. Or perhaps it wouldn’t. She wants Galad to be like Niall, or even better.

Galad believes that the Whitecloak dogma that Aes Sedai are all evil is mistaken. It developed from the observation in The Way of the Light that the One Power can lead to corruption. Which is true, any power can; and Galad has firsthand knowledge that the White Tower is in need of reformation, but the battle against the Shadow outweighs other problems. He agrees to travel with Morgase, but pointedly doesn’t say with Perrin. And only after the trial.

The trial is very important because Galad believes that no crime should go unpunished and that Perrin has a guilty conscience. By this stage of the scene, Galad seems to be softening on his opinion that Perrin is Shadowspawn. After all, surely Shadowspawn would not have a conscience with which to feel guilt.

Morgase exposes Galad’s threat to execute his prisoners as a lie or, if he carried it out, a wrong deed. He is dismissive:

"So you would have killed the others," Morgase said. "People who did no wrong, who were innocent of nothing more than being beguiled by Aybara?" "The executions would never have occurred. It was merely a threat." "A lie." "Bah! What is the point of this, Mother?" "To make you think, son," Morgase said. "In ways that I should have encouraged before, rather than leaving you to your simple illusions.

Towers of Midnight, A Terrible Feeling
This is inconsistent with his earlier attitude and quite a change for him, since it shows him as in the wrong, normally unthinkable. Morgase regrets that she did not show Galad that good and evil are not that simple since good people can mistakenly do wrong or be pushed into it by circumstances. Perrin could be one in this situation. Morgase herself wrongly convicted a man to die. The Light doesn’t automatically protect people from evil or prevent good people from doing wrong, as Galad is starting to discover. Right now he is suppressing this a little. Morgase makes some inroads in puncturing his zealous convictions, because he frowns and looks troubled, but then he appears to decide to see what the Pattern and the trial bring. Morgase wants Galad to be aware that there could be reasons why people commit crimes and that there is not just one appropriate sentence for each type of crime.

Galad decides the delay provided by the bubble of evil is an opportunity to think. As Bryne remarked earlier, Galad thinks a lot. And usually to good purpose.

In the exchange quotes above, Moragse calls Galad ‘son, which is true, since he is her step-son (unlike Ituralde’s and Lan’s use of ‘son’ to younger men, which sounds patronising) and is consistent with the way she called Elayne ‘daughter’ in The Eye of the World.

Perrin POV

Perrin’s hammer is a tool rather than a weapon and so it didn’t respond to the bubble of evil.

Tam is leaving Perrin to go to Rand, who will try to kill him – and almost become a Kinslayer of his own volition. The shame of this brings Rand out of the darkness. Tam will tell Rand that Morgase is alive.

Elayne POV

Elayne’s comical parade through Caemlyn on a litter adds to her reputation for recklessness as well as courage. Her reluctance to rest, and earlier to accept the guidance of a midwife is paralleled in Queen Elizabeth 1, who in her last illness refused to be examined by a doctor or to rest in bed. The litter is also described as a bed in one sentence. All through her long reign Queen Bess made a big show of being a woman, as Elayne does here. I noted some other parallels between the two women (here), but I’ll write more in the Elayne essay that I’m writing.

Elayne’s fear of heights reminded me of the Seanchan saying: “On the heights, the paths are paved with daggers” (The Shadow Rising, Seeds of Shadow). Perhaps Elayne’s fear of heights is a symbol that she should guard against a tendency to overreach in her ambitions. The success to taking and keeping the Cairhienin throne is being above Daes Daemar, Elayne thinks. She might not be going to intrigue in Cairhien – much - but is going to put spies on Aludra, because she mistrusts her motivation and discretion. Elayne offers Aludra access to more bellfounders, but also insists on an oath of secrecy: using carrots and a stick, as she was taught to do.

Elayne is disparaging of Mat’s judgment of the cannons’ value until she remembers her own mistakes. This mirrors the Galad and Morgase scene where each sees the other’s imperfections and is reminded of their own.

Aludra had the cannon bodies recast because if the metal has flaws or is the wrong composition it could explode upon firing. Aludra thinks there is no danger to bystanders because her calculations are perfect and she judges that they were followed. She does not allow for people making mistakes, such as operator error, and in her own way is as overconfident as Galad or Elayne. The cannon are firing four to six inch cannonballs. Elayne thinks they are so small compared to catapult stones that they won’t do much damage. Aludra is planning on four men per cannon (see Mat, Fireworks and Bellfounder article). The sound the cannon makes upon firing is realistic, but there is no smoke or recoil described. The men take three minutes to reload, but Aludra says they would be faster with more training. Until now she has shown a reluctance to let go of her creations, but in battle she can’t calculate all the trajectories herself, or do all the training of gunners. In this demonstration she had to allow the men to light the fuses.

It is interesting that Birgitte recognises gunpowder. She realises what a difference gunpowder weapons will make to the world, with more destructive and lethal power accessible to more people, as per Egwene’s dream of Mat:

Mat sat on a night-shrouded hilltop, watching a grand Illuminator's display of fireworks, and suddenly his hand shot up, seized one of those bursting lights in the sky. Arrows of fire flashed from his clenched fist, and a sense of dread filled her. Men would die because of this. The world would change.

-A Crown Of Swords, Unseen Eyes
The chapter title of “A Terrible Feeling” refers to Birgitte’s mislike of gunpowder weapons. In contrast, Elayne is just excited at the opportunity they present and is unconcerned about what misuse they could be put to. In many ways, with breezy confidence and little thought for anything except her own nation’s benefit, Elayne gives this reader the most misgivings. One can see this aspect of her character in Aviendha’s visions of Elayne’s children. But the title is also appropriate for Galad’s confusion over getting Valda’s crime wrong, and in committing a wrong deed yet feeling right about that, and for Morgase’s regrets in not teaching him better.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Towers of Midnight Read-Through #35: Chapter 28 -Oddities

By Linda


Faile POV

Faile is content that she can’t always anticipate Perrin’s actions and that he doesn’t back down from her. She respects him because he is not too easy to handle and therefore is worthy of her hand. It’s part of the courtly love motif of their sub-thread. When Faile senses that Perrin is too distracted by worries to concern himself over whether to appease her she’s not too thrilled, but thoughts of Berelain eyeing off Galad are compensation enough to let it pass.

Perrin has agreed to the trial to buy himself time as well as make the Whitecloaks hear the other side to their charges. He believes Galad is fair enough to really do that. Too often Whitecloaks prejudge and their captives never get to explain their side of the story. In this sub-thread we see the huge changes that Galad is making to the Whitecloaks, seemingly effortlessly due to his obvious excellence and goodness. In reality he has paid the price for the changes already, as well as earned the right to make them, by enduring abuse from the Questioners for the greater good of the order.

Perrin POV

In Tel’aran’rhiod Perrin’s link to Mat pulled him straight to the Tower of Ghenjei. Previously we have seen people pulled to others’ dreams, but not people pulled to places in Tel’aran’rhiod that others close to them are focussed on.

Judging by the way the dreamspike barrier makes a being go limp when they touch it, it appears to block an area by sapping the brain’s control of the body. Only those with a very strong self-image can counteract its influence. Within the dome Tel’aran’rhiod works as normal except for the difficulty of passing through the barrier. Perrin does not jump to conclusions that the dreamspike is what causes the smell of wrongness around the camps, but does think they are related: pretty good judgement. His judgement was also sound about it not being worth the risk for Morgase to tell them her identity.

Hopper likens Slayer to a wolf of wrongness, and he is a human Darkhound, in a way. I suspect he is the Broken Wolf of the Shadow’s Prophecy, if that prophecy comes true. (In Rand’s opinion prophecies show the conditions necessary for something to happen, but are no guarantees that it will happen. Other characters, Siuan and King Paitar, for example, disagree and believe that prophecy is infallible.)

Ituralde POV

The Shadowspawn outside Maradon don’t attack, but constantly beat drums. It’s intimidating and presents anyone resting. There are Darkfriend male channellers with the Shadowspawn. They aren’t seen though, only sensed. For all we know there could also be Black Ajah working with them.

Ituralde refuses to flee Maradon. Firstly because it’s the best way to keep the Shadow out of Arad Doman, and secondly, he trusts that Rand will send forces to save the city.

The Great Captain is in shock at what one explosion can do – in this case made by channellers, but cannon can do the same –to a city’s defences. It is the end of fortresses being able to keep out invaders so long as their food and water supplies hold, and no one betrays them. Ituralde thinks if he’d had more time he could have held the city. This would be by using traps to keep the invaders out, but he could not have stopped the Shadow breaking the walls down and smashing the important buildings. For such a noted strategist it is surprising that he has been using the palace as a command post. It would be an obvious and conspicuous target, with its location known and easily seen from outside the city. He should have been using a somewhat less blatant but still central point for his headquarters.

Yoeli is convinced that the smoke they see is a signal that help is coming. But it isn’t. It may be in the right location, or it may merely be what Yoeli wants to believe. In desperation he challenges Ituralde to keep fighting at Maradon. The Shadow’s attack raises some questions. Why didn’t Darkfriend channellers enter the city? Are they too few? Or needed elsewhere? Why didn’t the Trollocs bring siege towers and ladders to enter the city from higher levels as well as at ground level? Ituralde’s strategy is urban guerrilla warfare, even though he believes it is a lost cause and that they should have abandoned the city.

I didn’t like Ituralde’s use of ‘son’ when addressing Deepe. Ituralde is only in his middle years, and anyway, ‘son’ isn’t something the characters said prior to The Gathering Storm.