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Karak Norn Clansman
04-01-2012, 03:42 AM
Hi, I'm not a hardcore WoT fan, but I thought I'd register and start this thread to see if my thoughts about a certain geographical oddity in Wheel of Time are correct.

Let us take a look on the Wetlands map. Here, we can spot the state borders of 14 countries (15 if Mayene is counted). Do you notice something odd? I for one do, because there are a lot of unclaimed wilderness on the map, mainly between the Borderlands and the southern countries. Not all of it is prime farm land, but most of it look about as fruitful as Saldaea or Andor. Yet no crown of the lands claims lordship over these vast stretches of land, open for grabs and for whoever wants it.

The issue here is not whether these country-less areas have population or not. We know they do. In The Great Hunt Rand and the lot travelled southwards beyond Shienar's southern borders, passing villages as they did and discovering a flayed man at one occassion. One Red sister was punished with exile to a farm in the Black Hills, Cadsuane Melaidrin and some Brown sisters lived far away from large towns and borders. Last but not least there are several towns on the map in the unclaimed, sparsely populated "wilderness". Tar Valon, Far Madding and Falme are out there, each of which certainly bear some local influence in these state-less lands.

No, the issue here is why not the countries of the Wetlands make a grab for all the free lands. In part, we know that much of the current wilderness are the result of past chaos (mainly the Trolloc Wars), but given the long stretch of time that have passed, this is not convincing. Let me explain why:

Farmers mean taxes (or day works, for nobles), and in farming societies with no means to raise agricultural production intensely, by putting more labour, better crops or fertilizers to the fields, the only way to increase production is to do so extensively, in effect by putting new land to the plough and expand the farmland. Here we see an incentive for elites to push borders into wild lands.

Where there is no life in the universe, it's only a matter of time before it arrives there. Human nature and thus human society is expansive, not least when it comes to population. History is filled with advancing frontiers, such as the German peasant colonization eastwards during medieval times, the establishment of Viking settlements far and wide, the Russian drive eastwards into Siberia during the 17th-18th centuries or the American western frontier during the 19th. Outside the sphere of Europe, there are just as many drives of settlers throughout history, perhaps most notably the arduous colonization waves sent westwards into near arid wasteland be the Chinese several times throughout history to follow the trade routes and provide garrisons for the Great Wall. Stimulus have often been provided by rulers, such as granting some tax-free years for those willing to move away and settle in untamed areas. Where one state was perhaps unwilling to make the attempt, a rival was bound to do so and thus gain an advantage.

Where is this growth of countries into sparsely populated, unclaimed land in the Wheel of Time? I've come under the impression that rather than expanding, the human states of the Wetlands rather have been shrinking if anything. This is all too similar to the bleakness of Tolkien's Middle Earth, which is filled with sparsely populated, unclaimed wilderness. Much of it was once part of great nations, but alas no more. It isn't strange in Fantasy if some Dark Lord savages the land and nearly depopulate it. It is strange, however, when humans and other sentient species don't make a push for it and try to gain new domains. Rohan and Gondor could have raced each other for expanding into Eriador, fighting the Dunelendings as they went. Dwarves and even elves could have been part of it, but they weren't, and neither were the humans. What gets destroyed, pretty much stays destroyed in Lotr. The same seems to be true for WoT.

The lack of pushes into peripheral regions is made even more odd when looking for example at the race for the Laplands between Russia, Sweden-Finland and Denmark-Norway during the 16th-17th centuries. This northern region was heavily forested and contained little settlements apart from the mainly nomadic Samis, who herded reindeer. Yet there was something of a scramble between the three countries for this untamed land, because every little resource counted. Samis could be taxed, settlers could be made to move in and create new farm land and at lenght more farmers, thus producing more tax, and both the resources of the forests and the mountains could be exploited, thus creating more fortune for the state.

Where do we see such things in WoT? To give an example, Andor appears to be content with holding at its westernmost border Baerlon and some minings towns in the Mountains of Mist, instead of trying to incorporate sparsely populated lands into the state, thus gaining taxes from the few villages and farms that already are out there, and fur from the wildlife, and timber, grain and ore as settlers move in and begin to work the natural resources. There are a lot of rivers, forests and plains north of Andor which once held countries and certainly could do so again. The Caralain grass could be in the process of being quartered by Andor, Cairhien, the Borderlands and maybe even Tar Valon (because a budding empire isn't to be sneezed at).

And to finish off, all these unclaimed lands ought to be quite tempting for farmers during harsh times with lots of taxes, such as great war times. Why not try to escape the government by moving outside the country's borders? Where are the colonists? The Seanchan managed to create a sprawling empire on their home continent and even send settlers across the oceans to colonize the Wetlands, but the Wetlanders themselves seem unable to claim the wild land. It isn't as if the unclaimed land is one big desert like the Aiel waste, or a suicidal habitat akin to the Blight.

In short, there should be some signs of human regrowth and expanding frontiers in the Wetlands, but there are not any such signs. This is a pity, because Jordan managed to create a very convincing imaginary world in other areas.

Do you agree? If not, prove me wrong. ;)

GonzoTheGreat
04-01-2012, 04:31 AM
It is probably an effect of the DO. He is working to disrupt civilisation, and he is fairly succesful at that. That was also what was behind the Trolloc Wars. At the start of that, it seemed quite possible that humanity could have brought the Age of Legends back. If that had happened, then eventually a way of mending the DO's prison would have been found, and his chance for escape would have been gone.

There are frequent mentions of countries trying to grab larger stretches of land, but they always find that they can not afford it and have to withdraw within smaller borders again, if they do not collapse outright.

Zombie Sammael
04-01-2012, 04:45 AM
The key difference between the real world and WOT is that the world of WOT is experiencing population declines amongst humans, rather than growth. It's fair to say that all of those unclaimed wilderness areas were once populated and part of nations, but as the population shrinks - rather than expands as in the real life examples you cite - humans naturally band together in the more densely populated areas. Partly, this is the reason why the return of the Seanchan is a good thing; they're a population that is actually successful and expanding, rather than the Wetlands populations which are failing.

Sarevok
04-01-2012, 04:56 AM
Like others already pointed out: it's mostly a population issue. Even if Andor decided to claim Caralain Grass and maybe even the Black Hills, they wouldn't have the military might to enforce that claim. Just look at the Two Rivers: Andor can't even keep control of the procinces that it does claim!

Also, there is one instance where countries do try to expand into unclaimed land: Arad Doman and Tarabon duking it out over Almoth Plain, while it's mentioned several times that neither side would actually have the power to keep control over it for any extended period of time. In fact, I'd bet that if the Seachan hadn't invaded, Falme might, after a few centuries, have expanded from a city-state into a full-fledged country bordering both Arad Doman and Tarabon.

Karak Norn Clansman
04-01-2012, 05:07 AM
GonzoTheGreat: Good point.

Sarevok: Good point.

However, I have always had a hard time buying the population decline in WoT. It doesn't make sense.

The only pre-industrial example of population decline not caused by war, catastrophe, environmental decline, starvation or diseases that I know of was the late Roman Empire, which for quite unique reasons had a defunct culture that couldn't reproduce itself. (This was one reason why Christianity came to replace the old paganism, since the culture of Christians took care of their sick better than pagans and also had higher birth rates.) Everywhere else, every old-fashioned organic society have been culturally geared for population increase.

Seeing the Dark One's hand behind any number or wars and catastrophes that help depopulate the Wetlands is all well and fine, but I've a hard time seeing the Dark One behind a continent-wide inability to reproduce sufficiently. If cursing the people of the land into slow extinction is the Dark One's way of preparing for the Last Battle, then the Seanchan will start declining as the native Wetlanders do once they settle down on the cursed continent. Now, this actually make a little sense, since the "Randlands" are pivotal to Tarmon Gai'don.

Also, states claiming wild land without hostile people isn't as much a case of military presence as it is of settlers and tax collectors. It is also a slow process.

GonzoTheGreat
04-01-2012, 05:47 AM
Well, there were the Greenland Norse. While you might say that they died because of starvation, a more accurate account would probably be that they starved because they held on too stubbornly to a way of life that worked in Norway but did not work in Greenland. Thus, their extinction was more a matter of culture than of a lack of available resources.
Another example are the Maya people. Here it is not clear why their civilisation died out, but all the "usual suspects" such as war, climate change and the like fail to be convincing.
Then there are the Numenorans from Tolkien's books, but, since they are somewhat fictional, you may not be willing to count them.

Karak Norn Clansman
04-01-2012, 06:14 AM
Yes, the Greenland Norse were too stubborn, but they lived in an extreme climate. Their decline is not comparable with a temperate region that is relatively free of nature's more extreme hardships (i.e. the Wetlands). Here, cultures need not adapt intimately to the demands of surviving the local environment. Between, Greenland is a prime example of humans' ability to spread wherever they can, and to get up again when they fall. Both Scandinavian and Inuit peoples have abandoned the large isle or gone extinct throughout history, yet both have returned despite the place being a freezing hell on Earth to live in.

You are correct, I will not count the Númenoreans of Tolkien, because they (and the later Gondorians) clash with all experience of how pre-modern societies' population dynamics work. Here, we can look at the several re-colonizations and abandonments of Greenland as a guide to how things could look. Both in WoT and Lotr, there could be quite thrilling examples throughout history of devastating diseases, wars, famines, natural catastrophes and far-ranging Trolloc (or Orc) attacks that depopulate vast stretches of land. But instead of letting the remaining lands go declining, they could instead be labouring and even racing one another (though in a slow manner) in their attempts to snatch up new land out of the wilderness with the help of excess population. Then all these hardships, all this pioneering spirit and all this hope is dashed again by the next wave of destruction, whatever its shape and reach.

This way we wouldn't have pretty bleak imaginary lands, but instead occasionally cornered lands that bloody well try to expand and grow and get mightier, constantly trying to rise up and climb higher, only to fall again and again. The key point here is that an imaginary background world grows more interesting if we have an element of human expansive sprit, instead of stagnation. It help bring life to the world.

As for the Maya collapse, the usual suspects are rightly strong suspects even here, not least ecological collapse due to intensive farming and deforestation: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Classic_Maya_collapse#Systemic_ecological_collapse _model

Of course, the fact here is that my willingness to compare Jordan's work with real history shows how good Jordan was at world-building, but his historical cycles of rise and fall could have been more realistic and intriguing.

GonzoTheGreat
04-01-2012, 06:59 AM
A rather big difference is that in Randland, there is a reliable contraception method, which was definitely not the case in any society in our history which you might want to compare to it until the 1960s or thereabouts. Factor that in, and all your models will go haywire.

Weird Harold
04-01-2012, 06:59 AM
Also, states claiming wild land without hostile people isn't as much a case of military presence as it is of settlers and tax collectors. It is also a slow process.

As noted above, Andor is an example of a country that can't even afford to send tax collectors to all of the areas it claims. Altara is another example, with Ebou Dar's effective control extending "not much more than a day's ride," IIRC.

The "unclaimed lands" aren't actually unpopulated -- they're populated in much the same way that the American Frontier was populated by people not exactly amenable to paying taxes.

Another point you are missing is that farmers have to be close enough to their markets to transport crops without spoilage. Farmers only go where there is a market for their crops.

As you noted in your original post, most of the unclaimed land lies just south of the borderlands. That means it is land occasionally troubled by trollocs and other shadowspawn as well as by human bandits. A military presence is highly desirable in those lands; one which Andor and Cairhein aren't willing to afford.

It is probably also worth noting that most of the unclaimed land is not accessible by riverboat or barge. In a pre-technical civilization, rivers are the primary means of long distance travel. Prosperous settlements that return more tax revenue than they consume in military protection are usually found along navigable rivers rather than in open savanna, like the Caralain Grass.

Finally, Randland population is still recovering from the Aiel War. There is also fairly suggestive hints that Ishamael instigated a population draining war or three every 40 year furlough from the Bore. Viable Empires in Randland, like the Ten Nations or Hawkwing's Empire, were definitely sabotaged by Ishamael or his DF minions. Any sign of cohesion or effective control has been ruthlessly sabotaged by the Shadow to keep Randland weak and disorganized in anticipation of T'G.

Karak Norn Clansman
04-01-2012, 07:34 AM
GonzoTheGreat: Really? Is heartleaf, if I remember the name correctly, a reliable contraception method?

Weird Harold: Now we're talking! I had actually forgotten that hint about Ishamael. It was maybe part of one of the more boring books prior to KoD? Ishamael sabotaging stuff every now and then is just the kind of repeating catastrophe that is required to keep the large, state-less areas away from being dominated by other countries. That also leave room for recovering and regrowth, squashed repeatedly by a Forsaken's machinations. Nice.

Although I don't remember any mentions of neither brigands nor Trollocs south of the Borderlands, you are probably right. It would require a military presence. There is however no shortage of rivers: http://www.meahscorner.com/wheeloftime/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/Wheel-of-Time-Map.jpg

In Knife of Dreams a party of Illianer merchantmen had travelled to Saldaea to purchase gems. Looking at the waterways, it seem logical they travelled by river boat. Lacking state presence, it would by the way seem lucrative for hunters and fur traders to establish outposts along the unclaimed water ways.

GonzoTheGreat
04-01-2012, 07:40 AM
GonzoTheGreat: Really? Is heartleaf, if I remember the name correctly, a reliable contraception method?
Well, not drinking it seems a fairly reliable ception method: :p
"She should have drunk that heartleaf tea," she babbled. She never told what she saw except to those involved, and only then if they wanted to hear, but she had to say something. "She'll get with child from this. Two of them; a boy and a girl; both healthy and strong."
"She wants his babies," the Aiel woman mumbled. Her green eyes stared straight ahead; her jaw was tight, and sweat beaded on her forehead. "I will not drink the tea myself if I—" Giving herself a shake, she frowned across the width of the hall at Min. "My sister and the Wise Ones told me about you. You really see things about people that come true?"

Karak Norn Clansman
04-01-2012, 08:22 AM
Haha, yes. I always thought that heartleaf tea was an unreliable contraception method, although probably better than those traditionally used in real history. A dampener to population growth, although not a destroyer, I imagine. Wait a minute? Winter's heart? Oh my, I had forgotten just how slowly paced the story became through an unhealthy number of books.

Terez
04-01-2012, 09:04 AM
Interview: Nov 18th, 1998
TPOD Signing Report - Melinda Yin (http://www.theoryland.com/vbulletin/../intvmain.php?i=100) (Paraphrased)

Melinda Yin
I was at the signing at King of Prussia last night, and asked a question about Randland life that has been bugging me for a while—do Aes Sedai ever have children, and why/why not?

Robert Jordan
I was impressed with Jordan's casual reply, as if this were common knowledge—that all Aes Sedai, and for that matter, most women have knowledge of a special herb that serves as an incredibly efficient contraceptive. This herb is just general women's lore, passed to women by Wisdoms and such..

Seth Baker
04-01-2012, 10:12 AM
As has been said, Jordan conceived of various themes that characterized the various ages. It appears that the theme of the Third Age is the withdrawal and withering of centralized human authority; the decrease of population, and the decline of man in general.

As a storytelling device, it's to make the odds against Rand in the Last Battle seem particularly long. As a worldbuilding device, it's definitely to make us understand that the world there is different from our world today.

At least, that's what I take from it. Your observations are good ones, but I think Jordan might respond that they're based on an understanding of the world from the Fifth, Sixth, Seventh or First Age (whichever we're living in now), and that doesn't necessarily apply to the Third Age.

greatwolf
04-01-2012, 01:22 PM
However, I have always had a hard time buying the population decline in WoT. It doesn't make sense.

The only pre-industrial example of population decline not caused by war, catastrophe, environmental decline, starvation or diseases that I know of was the late Roman Empire, which for quite unique reasons had a defunct culture that couldn't reproduce itself.

I confess I'll likely be unable to follow this thread now, but I'll like to chip in and apologies if it has been mentioned.

One of the themes in the plot is the Dragon being tied to the land. In tDR, we see how the population of Illian and Tear reacted to the presence of forsaken with despair and hopelessness. And there's Masema's influnce on his supporters and Aridhol.

I think those areas died out because of the influence of the DO on the RL continent. Men are needed to make the land work, but if the pull of the DO is too strong, then people will gather together for safety where his influence is not so strong. Maybe the same if there aren't enough people who are determined enough to resist him.

Just a thought though.

Seeker
04-01-2012, 03:09 PM
Red-headed, fair-skinned desert dwellers. (The Aiel).

A universal belief in reincarnation and yet no formalized religion.


A population that has been split apart by oceans, virtually impassable mountain ranges and leagues upon leagues of open wilderness - with very little contact between foreign societies - and yet everyone speaks the same language.

A square-shaped continent that is essentially the result of a catastrophic upheaval (meaning the likelihood of a landmass in the form of a simple geometric shape is rare).

An almost universal inability to recall past lives and yet a universal belief in reincarnation... (I could go on about this one at length).

A magic system in which "one does not have to see a flow to unravel it if one knows what it is and where it is," with no explanation of how one can know what it is and where it is without seeing it.

A sun that will never die alongside an Age (Ours) in which science claims the sun will die...

A weave of the One Power attuned to a man who will not be born for three thousand years. (The weave that protected Callandor. How exactly did they program it to respond to Rand without him being there or even EXISTING to be used as a template?)

A device that allows one to see the memories of one's ancestors and retrieves those memories from.... where?


The same device allows one to see memories from one's descendants and gets these memories how?

(I mention these last three because RJ wants us to think of the One Power as a technology and not as a form of magic.

Not to piss on Clark's Law here, but technology is not indistinguishable from magic. The primary difference is that technology has to be BUILT by humans (or at least mortal species) and is thus subject to human limitations.

So, when the Aes Sedai built the glass spires, how did they design them? At some point they have to embed "instructions" into the spires. Look in this place and retrieve this data.

So, where to the glass spires go to retrieve not only the memories of people who have been dead for thousands of years but also the memories of people who have not yet been born. Or are they simply a giant virtual reality simulator?)


I could go on but the point is that no matter what RJ says, this is a series that is loaded with magic. This is a world that is NOT at all like the real world so trying to use real-world concepts (such as population expansion) is pretty pointless.

Now, that being said, there are times where the series skews off on tangents of silliness that just go to far. But for the most part if you just accept the world as it is without trying to liken it to real life, you'll enjoy it more.

Weird Harold
04-01-2012, 04:04 PM
There is however no shortage of rivers: ...

In Knife of Dreams a party of Illianer merchantmen had travelled to Saldaea to purchase gems. Looking at the waterways, it seem logical they travelled by river boat. ...

The key is Navigable rivers. We know because of characters various trips that the rivers from Ebou Dar to Jehanna (Ghealdan), Illian to Saldea. and Tear to Cairhein, Arafel, and Sheinar are navigable, with regular boat/barge traffic. There is, however, no mention of docks or other river traffic in and around Caemlyn or Lugard that I recall, suggesting that the rivers shown near those cities aren't navigable. Likewise, river travel would have sped up the supergirl's trip from Tanchico, so there doesn't appear to be river traffic towards Amadicia.

From The Three Amigos' trip with Bayle Domon to
Whitebridge, it would seem that there are no noteworthy human habitations along that stretch of the river; One would expect trading posts or the like at the confluence of the rivers draining the black hills if they were navigable for even small craft.

Ishara
04-01-2012, 08:20 PM
The other factor, aside from population as the primary explanation for the question, is fear.

Weird Harold mentioned earlier the propensity for wars to arise with every appearance of Ishamael, and the nasty habit he had of finding ways to destabilize any attempt at cohesive ruling and/ or cooperative nation-building. But even if you only go as far back as the Aiel War, you find reason for why the existing population does not spread out as they should in reasonable population models.

The people who would farm the lonelier stretches of countryside - fertile, or not - outside of the big cities like Cairhien have still not recovered from the first Aiel War, let alone the more recent invasion of Shaido. People fell safer closer to, or in, cities and so there they flock. This will only get worse in the coming days and months with the Last Battle close upon them. So for all the tax incentives that a kingdom can offer people, and again the example of Cairhien comes to mind, people will not avail themselves of those opportunities at the expense of their personal safety - or the perception of such.

Cortar
04-02-2012, 02:27 AM
Red-headed, fair-skinned desert dwellers. (The Aiel).

They aren't very fair skinned now. Plus I hardly imagine 1000 years is enough to alter the genetics of a people.


A universal belief in reincarnation and yet no formalized religion.
Simple, reincarnation is supported by all of the prophesies and has been passed down from generation to generation. Every knows the dragon will be reborn, thus it solidifies their belief. There is also no formalized religion because I assume the loss of a formalized religions were a byproduct of the age of legends. Or maybe the pattern prevents them from forming?


A population that has been split apart by oceans, virtually impassable mountain ranges and leagues upon leagues of open wilderness - with very little contact between foreign societies - and yet everyone speaks the same language.
Simple, they never lost the printing press. With a device such as this your language isn't going to alter THAT much. Compare modern English to 1700s english. Still pretty much the same thing.


A square-shaped continent that is essentially the result of a catastrophic upheaval (meaning the likelihood of a landmass in the form of a simple geometric shape is rare).
http://www.meahscorner.com/wheeloftime/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/Wheel-of-Time-Map.jpg
There are some square mountain ranges, but these were MAN MADE. So maybe a particular weave caused the creation of mountains in a square formation?

Anyways, a geometric formation is just as probable as a non-geometric formation so this is moot.


An almost universal inability to recall past lives and yet a universal belief in reincarnation... (I could go on about this one at length).
I really don't understand why this is such a hard concept for you to understand.


A magic system in which "one does not have to see a flow to unravel it if one knows what it is and where it is," with no explanation of how one can know what it is and where it is without seeing it.

Simple, I know my desk to in front of me if I close my eyes. Or more like, this is an example to show you that you never actually "see" weaves, instead the physical represents are just that, something their brains make up to explain a metaphysical concept.


A sun that will never die alongside an Age (Ours) in which science claims the sun will die...
Who knows what happens at the end of the 7th age? Maybe some huge event with tons of the OP renews everything? What if the world is destroyed and the creator remakes everything? Anything is possible. Also we are assuming their science works exactly like ours.


A weave of the One Power attuned to a man who will not be born for three thousand years. (The weave that protected Callandor. How exactly did they program it to respond to Rand without him being there or even EXISTING to be used as a template?)

Who says there was such a weave? Obviously there were traps but what if it were just normal traps? How many times did men who could channel gain access to it? Also, since it was a part of prophesy I would assume the wheel would keep anyone from actually getting close enough to grab it.


A device that allows one to see the memories of one's ancestors and retrieves those memories from.... where?


The same device allows one to see memories from one's descendants and gets these memories how?
Maybe it stores it as data like a computer? Maybe it reads the pattern and can see backwards from one thread?



So, when the Aes Sedai built the glass spires, how did they design them? At some point they have to embed "instructions" into the spires. Look in this place and retrieve this data.

So, where to the glass spires go to retrieve not only the memories of people who have been dead for thousands of years but also the memories of people who have not yet been born. Or are they simply a giant virtual reality simulator?)

Again, its probably a machine that can identify a thread in the pattern and track it backwards, showing that thread's history and past (following the thread will lead to its parents, etc)


I could go on but the point is that no matter what RJ says, this is a series that is loaded with magic. This is a world that is NOT at all like the real world so trying to use real-world concepts (such as population expansion) is pretty pointless.

Now, that being said, there are times where the series skews off on tangents of silliness that just go to far. But for the most part if you just accept the world as it is without trying to liken it to real life, you'll enjoy it more.

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.

GonzoTheGreat
04-02-2012, 04:23 AM
Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.
Our technology is insufficiently advanced.

greatwolf
04-02-2012, 05:24 AM
I suppose Rand and Tuon will have to parcel out the land in any agreement they might reach. The seanchan seem to have a population problem. Or maybe they just brought the farmers along to support the army.

There are lots of depopulated areas and filling them would help RL itself recover. Although Rand might want to move some aiel to the wetlands.

Davian93
04-02-2012, 08:33 AM
On contraception, even in our own Medieval period, tansy & pennyroyal tea was a very effective contraceptive. The only major problems with it were the lack of knowledge on mixing it and the fact that not mixing it correctly often proved deadly as both are poisons and oil of pennyroyal is quite deadly even in tiny amounts.

Those who are fans of aSoIaF will note the tansy connection to that series' "moon tea"...a very real tea used for contraception.

Davian93
04-02-2012, 08:34 AM
Or maybe they just brought the farmers along to support the army.

They did...remember, its not just an invasion but rather a "return". They came in full out colonization mode to take back their lost lands.

Ishara
04-02-2012, 09:10 AM
Along with their own livestock and flora...who knows what the ecological impact of introducing these new species to the ecosystem will be?

Vanadis
04-02-2012, 03:24 PM
I think, that another point of the decline of the population in Randland need to be presented. While it true that war and the DO very well could have affected the population, the status of the woman need to be taken into account.

Women with low status, low education and a poor justice system where the live usually have more children than those who have a higher status and/or education.

Jordan always made woman strong in his stories, independent and strong headed (wool headed too, of course).

It might not affect Randland as much as war and conflict, but it is unlikely that the status of women in Randland has not affected the population growth.

I just hope I didn't miss someone who have already posted this. I have a tendency to read a little bit too fast :)

Enigma
04-02-2012, 04:01 PM
Along with their own livestock and flora...who knows what the ecological impact of introducing these new species to the ecosystem will be?

Damn not only do the Seanchan practice the abomination of slavery and want to conquor the world but they are not environmentally friendly either :)

Ishara
04-02-2012, 05:19 PM
You joke, but imagine what would happen if a parasitic plant brought over by the Seanchan settlers eradicated tabac? It would be a sad, sad day is all I'm saying.' ;)

Great Lord of the Dark
04-02-2012, 11:19 PM
Vanadis, you said what I was thinking. The cultures all place women in positions where they are in charge of their sexual activity, marriage and procreation. Historical expansion on Earth may be based on the biological necessity to replace the previous generation and a male-centric philosophy in which women are for breeding large families to overcome the loss of children to disease. In the Wheel of Time, it seems plausible that the Wheel contrives to maintain a stable population (necessary for reincarnation) by controlling other factors such as disease. Less disease means less need for large families. In the real world when women have control over their procreation, health, and lifestyle, the shift has been to smaller families, later in life. However it happened, it is likely that the Wheel of Time women have no need or interest in popping out babies for the sake of expanding 'the human race'.

Cortar
04-03-2012, 02:39 AM
How is it that, historically, landlocked nations don't really exist (at least until we got modern technology), but there are tons in Randland.
Plus Andor, the "best" country in the area is also landlocked.

greatwolf
04-03-2012, 03:43 AM
How is it that, historically, landlocked nations don't really exist (at least until we got modern technology), but there are tons in Randland.
Plus Andor, the "best" country in the area is also landlocked.

Maybe because trade by sea is quite small? Before the advent of sea trade, it was simply Europe and bits of Asia. Yet they thrived nevertheless. Even now, Tear and Mayene which have seaports seem to be among the richest. The borderlands seem to have the most difficulty surviving.

greatwolf
04-03-2012, 03:56 AM
Vanadis, you said what I was thinking. The cultures all place women in positions where they are in charge of their sexual activity, marriage and procreation. Historical expansion on Earth may be based on the biological necessity to replace the previous generation and a male-centric philosophy in which women are for breeding large families to overcome the loss of children to disease. In the Wheel of Time, it seems plausible that the Wheel contrives to maintain a stable population (necessary for reincarnation) by controlling other factors such as disease. Less disease means less need for large families. In the real world when women have control over their procreation, health, and lifestyle, the shift has been to smaller families, later in life. However it happened, it is likely that the Wheel of Time women have no need or interest in popping out babies for the sake of expanding 'the human race'.

Well they have "wisdoms" and AS healers to take care of diseases so maybe they can afford to have small families. Tar Valon and Far Madding are ruled by women and some other states like Andor. But the seanchan don't seem to have the pop problem even though they seem to more Empresses than Emperors. But the multiple factor solution is one I find appealing.

GonzoTheGreat
04-03-2012, 04:32 AM
How is it that, historically, landlocked nations don't really exist (at least until we got modern technology), but there are tons in Randland.
Plus Andor, the "best" country in the area is also landlocked.
One explanation would be that nations in that sense did not exist until we got modern technology.

Another one is that you seem to be forgetting some examples, such Switzerland, Tibet, Austria (which didn't have sea ports for quite a while, I think), Russia for a long time (the Arctic ocean don't count, I hope). Then there were some (how many probably no one knows) in Africa. May have been more in Asia too, but I am not very well versed in the history of that region.

Karak Norn Clansman
04-03-2012, 04:40 AM
I have to remark that there is something very uncomfortable about the idea of a long-lasting population decline (as opposed to stability or growth) caused primarily by high female status or use of contraceptives. It seem like a... slow, silent murder? Or an unconcious suicide? For one thing, I imagine that a matriarchal society would be interested in there being enough babies born. It seem strange to portray a matriarchal society as irresponsible. For one thing, wouldn't it value highly its mothers? People have always counted births, and I know of a southern African example during the 19th century where one tribe was worried because they had less children than their neighbouring rivals (and thus less warriors in potential, future conflicts).

I personally prefer to think that Ishamael and the Dark One's influence spark up butchering wars, from which the population do recover, but pretty slowly.

However, it is not entirely true that higher status for women means less children. The average birth rates in old-time northern Europe (who historically had the highest female status of any larger region of city cultures/civilization on Earth) was higher than in China. Chinese women had by far less standing than European women, yet the Chinese bred less children per woman. Of course, this probably had something to do with the relatively advanced medicine of the Chinese and crowding meaning a later marriage, or at least a later procreation once the young couple moved away from the husband's parents house.

Now, the Wheel of Time keeping a quite stable population for order of convenient reincarnation numbers is an interesting thought, although the population decline sadly seem to crush it.

Terez
04-03-2012, 04:48 AM
Another one is that you seem to be forgetting some examples, such Switzerland, Tibet, Austria (which didn't have sea ports for quite a while, I think), Russia for a long time (the Arctic ocean don't count, I hope). Then there were some (how many probably no one knows) in Africa. May have been more in Asia too, but I am not very well versed in the history of that region.
IIRC Poland was forcibly landlocked during the partitioning. Navigable rivers do make the situation somewhat manageable.

Karak Norn Clansman
04-03-2012, 04:53 AM
IIRC Poland was forcibly landlocked during the partitioning. Navigable rivers do make the situation somewhat manageable.

Poland was originally a landlocked country, until it expanded towards the Baltic sea and acquired Teutonic Knight territory.

There have been several land-locked lands and empires throughout history, the Aztec being among them, as well as the Savanna/Sahel African kingdoms, not to mention Ethiopia. Despite having a long coastline, the Inca empire was pretty landlocked, since it only had small fishing villages by the sea, and used great roads in the mountains instead for most of their transports and communications. The Inca had stafette runners that could bring the Inca ruler high up in the mountains fresh fish from the seashore. Many ancient Middle Eastern and Chinese states flourished despite lacking a coast line, or having very little to do with coastal seafaring. Navigable rivers and coastlines were great assets, but not necessary for creating countries. There were states on the steppes in Central Asia without a single mile of coastline (eg. the Kwarezm).

GonzoTheGreat
04-03-2012, 06:16 AM
For most of its existence Egypt was river-locked. Sure, it had a bit of a navy now and then, but that was at a time when they didn't have anyone to fight with on the sea, so I don't think that really counts.

Ishara
04-03-2012, 07:02 AM
I have to remark that there is something very uncomfortable about the idea of a long-lasting population decline (as opposed to stability or growth) caused primarily by high female status or use of contraceptives. It seem like a... slow, silent murder? Or an unconcious suicide? For one thing, I imagine that a matriarchal society would be interested in there being enough babies born. It seem strange to portray a matriarchal society as irresponsible. For one thing, wouldn't it value highly its mothers? People have always counted births, and I know of a southern African example during the 19th century where one tribe was worried because they had less children than their neighbouring rivals (and thus less warriors in potential, future conflicts).
...
However, it is not entirely true that higher status for women means less children. The average birth rates in old-time northern Europe (who historically had the highest female status of any larger region of city cultures/civilization on Earth) was higher than in China. Chinese women had by far less standing than European women, yet the Chinese bred less children per woman. Of course, this probably had something to do with the relatively advanced medicine of the Chinese and crowding meaning a later marriage, or at least a later procreation once the young couple moved away from the husband's parents house.

Now, the Wheel of Time keeping a quite stable population for order of convenient reincarnation numbers is an interesting thought, although the population decline sadly seem to crush it.

Um, you know that's exactly what is happening right now in every developed country in the world, right? The basic fact is, women who have higher eductaions - even those with lower incomes - wait longer to start families and have fewer babies. I'll admit to being uncomfortable with your suggestion that it's akin to slow murder - murder of whom? Or unconscious suicide - it's actually the introduction of conscious thought and free will that create the trend.

Essentially, the upcoming century will see a fundamental decline in the labour market. This labour force shortage will arise as the massive baby boomer generation retires and companies compete to hire the small pool of "baby – bust" employees. Other factors that contribute to these changes include the following: birth rates are declining throughout the world, populations are aging, the age at which people are taking retirement has fallen, people are staying in school longer (or returning to school), and the skill-intensity of employment is increasing.

While only one of those factors is what we're talking about with regards to WoT, it's a basic fact as it relates to the real world. And what's more, it's a generation too late to do anything about it (in terms of making more babies to fill the population gap).

Karak Norn Clansman
04-03-2012, 07:21 AM
Yes, but it is incorrect that it is "too late" to do anything about it. A basic fact of the real world is that it's never too late (because such an attitude is defaitistic). It's essentially a matter of family planning and changed attitutdes, something that may well happen in the close future. The 1930s saw a decline in birth rates, yet the 1940-50s saw markedly higher figures. Too late? Was it too late for China to regain a dominant economic position after its 19th century decline? Of course not, things are looking quite fine for the Chinese. Was it too late to build a better future once the second world war had ruined large parts of Europe? Of course not. And neither is it too late to stabilize the population. Japan for one have plans to do so, and its politicians have waited several decades in order to let their crammed population decrease to a less dense level.

Besides, if I viewed the current developments as something else than only pretty temporary historical ones, pure honesty would force me to view them as a slow, drawn-out implosion of the species as a whole, if the trend persists for centuries to come. But since that seem unlikely and ridiculous, I don't view the current trend as a suicide of the species as a whole (which the case seem to be for imaginary Randland, if the theories about the population decline in WoT are correct). I didn't start this thread to discuss real life politics, however.

Davian93
04-03-2012, 10:30 AM
Um, you know that's exactly what is happening right now in every developed country in the world, right? The basic fact is, women who have higher eductaions - even those with lower incomes - wait longer to start families and have fewer babies. I'll admit to being uncomfortable with your suggestion that it's akin to slow murder - murder of whom? Or unconscious suicide - it's actually the introduction of conscious thought and free will that create the trend.

Essentially, the upcoming century will see a fundamental decline in the labour market. This labour force shortage will arise as the massive baby boomer generation retires and companies compete to hire the small pool of "baby – bust" employees. Other factors that contribute to these changes include the following: birth rates are declining throughout the world, populations are aging, the age at which people are taking retirement has fallen, people are staying in school longer (or returning to school), and the skill-intensity of employment is increasing.

While only one of those factors is what we're talking about with regards to WoT, it's a basic fact as it relates to the real world. And what's more, it's a generation too late to do anything about it (in terms of making more babies to fill the population gap).

The easiest solution is already being done...we simply outsource those jobs to cheaper foreign labor where the birth rate is till high...companies win, western citizens lose.

SauceyBlueConfetti
04-03-2012, 12:34 PM
Sorry, but I am still a bit puzzled by the original question. What areas exactly are you saying are wilderness ripe for the plucking? And, why do you feel they are?

Trade South from Saldaea is vigorous, as seen repeatedly in the books, so travel through the areas of the Black Hills and the Caralain Grass area occurs frequently. Armed guards are required, so the areas are not secure, but still, they are not abandoned entirely. There are also numerous Steddings, if I recall correctly in those areas. No one in their right mind would try to "take over" Ogier land, a resounding response from armed nations would definitely occur.

The most telling quote I could find follows...the terrain in that area is not likely to encourage a "hey why don't we expand there" discussion with leaders. I picture the area (Black Hills and the Caralain Grasses) to be basically inhospitable to everyone.

TITLE: Path of Daggers
CHAPTER: Prologue - Deceptive Appearances
Ethenielle had seen mountains lower than these misnamed Black Hills, great lopsided heaps of half-buried boulders, webbed with steep twisting passes. A number of those passes would have given a goat pause. You could travel three days through drought-withered forests and brown-grassed meadows without seeing a single sign of human habitation, then suddenly find yourself within half a day of seven or eight tiny villages, all ignorant of the world. The Black Hills were a rugged place for farmers, away from the trade routes, and harsher now than usual.

The other direction you head towards Tar Valon...and no one is going to expand within their sights, nor the simmering volcano shadowing them.

I guess I am still not clear as to what areas would be considered "fertile wilderness".

Nobles of Tear talk of their cooler estates along the Spine, so I assume you are not eyeballing that area. Aiel are not to be poked, and the Borderlands are heavily fortified and not likely to be happy to see any expansion attempts along their Southern borders.

Oden
04-03-2012, 12:44 PM
Wouldn't the borderlanders be happy to have neighbours who can aid them?
I've got the impression that the trolloc raids can occur south of the borderlands and that the people living there want a protective ruler. The other countries don't want to spend gold on defending those areas.

Ishara
04-03-2012, 01:17 PM
Yes, but it is incorrect that it is "too late" to do anything about it. A basic fact of the real world is that it's never too late (because such an attitude is defaitistic). It's essentially a matter of family planning and changed attitutdes, something that may well happen in the close future. The 1930s saw a decline in birth rates, yet the 1940-50s saw markedly higher figures. Too late? Was it too late for China to regain a dominant economic position after its 19th century decline? Of course not, things are looking quite fine for the Chinese. Was it too late to build a better future once the second world war had ruined large parts of Europe? Of course not. And neither is it too late to stabilize the population. Japan for one have plans to do so, and its politicians have waited several decades in order to let their crammed population decrease to a less dense level.

Besides, if I viewed the current developments as something else than only pretty temporary historical ones, pure honesty would force me to view them as a slow, drawn-out implosion of the species as a whole, if the trend persists for centuries to come. But since that seem unlikely and ridiculous, I don't view the current trend as a suicide of the species as a whole (which the case seem to be for imaginary Randland, if the theories about the population decline in WoT are correct). I didn't start this thread to discuss real life politics, however.
A couple of points. First, the coming labour shortage is our problem, now. So yes, to fix it is too late. It can be "fixed" for future egnerations, but not for us. Now, I'm sure we'll deal - it's not all doom and gloom, but you simply can't make more people of the right age appear like magic. The damage was done by the Baby Boomer generation, and themnot having enough kids. Not to mention the fact that the downward trend of declining ppulation and the factors that contribute to them (level of education in women, among many) is not going away and the problem continues into the foreseeable future. Now, when the Baby Boomers all die, we'll reach more of an equilibrium, but for quite some time the people of retirement age will FAR outweighh those of employment age.

And with regards to Randland's trends, population decline has been ongoing since at least the beginning of this Age. It has been for centuries. We know that women have had leadership roles in society since the Breaking, and we know that huge wars affecting all relevant populations ripped through Randland with regular frequency whenever a dynasty or coalition became tolo lage and threatened to overturn the trend of declining birth rates.

The easiest solution is already being done...we simply outsource those jobs to cheaper foreign labor where the birth rate is till high...companies win, western citizens lose.

Ah, but there's the rub, Dav. That's not actually the case in the long-term. The trend in the labour market is towards knowledge and sphisticated manufacturing work - all requiring higher education of some sort. As I mentioned earlier - almst all developed countries have a declining birth rate and actually need their own folks to their own work in their own countries. The people they don't need are the ones that we don't need - the undereducated, masses from the "developing" countries (am painting with HUGE brush strokes here). That trend can't continue for much longer, since the labour shortage will affect everyone very soon.

Cortar
04-03-2012, 01:19 PM
One explanation would be that nations in that sense did not exist until we got modern technology.

Another one is that you seem to be forgetting some examples, such Switzerland, Tibet, Austria (which didn't have sea ports for quite a while, I think), Russia for a long time (the Arctic ocean don't count, I hope). Then there were some (how many probably no one knows) in Africa. May have been more in Asia too, but I am not very well versed in the history of that region.

Switzerland is relatively new. Tibet never was very successful. Austria is a bad example because since its inception in 1804, it was not landlocked. It was only landlocked since its loss of territory and new borders.


There have been several land-locked lands and empires throughout history, the Aztec being among them, as well as the Savanna/Sahel African kingdoms, not to mention Ethiopia. Despite having a long coastline, the Inca empire was pretty landlocked, since it only had small fishing villages by the sea, and used great roads in the mountains instead for most of their transports and communications. The Inca had stafette runners that could bring the Inca ruler high up in the mountains fresh fish from the seashore. Many ancient Middle Eastern and Chinese states flourished despite lacking a coast line, or having very little to do with coastal seafaring. Navigable rivers and coastlines were great assets, but not necessary for creating countries. There were states on the steppes in Central Asia without a single mile of coastline (eg. the Kwarezm).

Aztecs weren't landlocked, but then it doesnt matter because its not like they even had the ability to trade via the water. I wouldn't count African savanna "countries" because they were never that, "countries." They were just groups of people with almost no technology. Inca's are the same as the Aztecs, they weren't landlocked and it wouldn't have mattered. What do you mean by "Chinese" states? Most of their population is near the coast and I can't imagine a time when China didn't have access to ports.

GonzoTheGreat
04-03-2012, 02:19 PM
Switzerland is relatively new.
Only about 700 years old, admittedly.
Still, that's older than the USA, isn't it? Actually, not all that many modern countries are significantly older.

Tibet never was very successful.
It did have an empire (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tibetan_Empire) for a couple of centuries.

Austria is a bad example because since its inception in 1804, it was not landlocked. It was only landlocked since its loss of territory and new borders.
I have to admit that I was not very accurate, here. I was thinking of the Habsburg possessions there, which started out land locked and gained access to the sea only a lot later.
I probably should've mentioned Hungary instead.

Aztecs weren't landlocked, but then it doesnt matter because its not like they even had the ability to trade via the water.
They did have some boats, but they didn't really use the sea all that much. To them, it was mostly a boundary. That said, they did start out from living in an inland swamp/lake and then conquering much of present day Mexico.

Inca's are the same as the Aztecs, they weren't landlocked and it wouldn't have mattered.
How do you mean "the same"?
They were the same in the sense that they were effectively landlocked in that they did not use the sea for more than some incidental fishing. They were decidedly different in that they were a different people living hundreds of miles apart.

What do you mean by "Chinese" states?
That is probably a reference to the time (times) that China was not one country, as it is now, but was made up out of a whole bunch of countries, quite a few of which were indeed without access to the sea.

And, of course, there's always the Mongols, who managed to acquire the largest empire ever without using many sea going boats at all. The only times they did that I can remember ended in rather bad disasters (that's where the Japanese got the word "kamikaze" from).


And back to the original topic, more or less:
Fashion may also play a role in this.
In Randland, the most powerful women (AS) in general do not have children. This sets the standard for women to not have all that many children.
In Seanchan, the most powerful women (the Empress for instance) do have quite a few children, generally, and this is then copied by the commoners.
Amongst the Aiel, both roofmistresses and wise ones generally do have children, and the other Aiel women copy that.
Thus, Aiel and Seanchan have a population surplus as a result of fashion, while Randlanders have a deficit.

There, ain't you lot happy that I've explained this? :D

Vanadis
04-03-2012, 03:11 PM
I wouldn't count African savanna "countries" because they were never that, "countries."

I don't know what your definition of "country" is, but if you consider the Aztek's and Mayan's as countries, perhapes the Nok civilization counts? As well as the Ethiopian Empire, the kingdom of Aksum, and the Kingdom of Zimbabwe?

suttree
04-03-2012, 03:26 PM
In Randland, the most powerful women (AS) in general do not have children. This sets the standard for women to not have all that many children.


I'm not sure that really follows...

Cortar
04-03-2012, 04:41 PM
Only about 700 years old, admittedly.
Still, that's older than the USA, isn't it? Actually, not all that many modern countries are significantly older.

Well let me clarify. Modern Switzerland has only been around for a 150 years. You are right though, but Switzerland is almost a special case since its unique geography allows it to be somewhat isolated which means it isn't as threatened by its neighbors as most countries.


It did have an empire (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tibetan_Empire) for a couple of centuries.

Well the Tibetan empire here has ocean access.


I have to admit that I was not very accurate, here. I was thinking of the Habsburg possessions there, which started out land locked and gained access to the sea only a lot later.
I probably should've mentioned Hungary instead.

Even so, Hungary is relatively close to sea trade, especially considering how far Andor is from any sort of sea based trade.


They did have some boats, but they didn't really use the sea all that much. To them, it was mostly a boundary. That said, they did start out from living in an inland swamp/lake and then conquering much of present day Mexico.

How do you mean "the same"?
They were the same in the sense that they were effectively landlocked in that they did not use the sea for more than some incidental fishing. They were decidedly different in that they were a different people living hundreds of miles apart.

I think we can disregard SA cultures in this discussion because I meant this to be about cultures with the technology level of Randland.


That is probably a reference to the time (times) that China was not one country, as it is now, but was made up out of a whole bunch of countries, quite a few of which were indeed without access to the sea.




And, of course, there's always the Mongols, who managed to acquire the largest empire ever without using many sea going boats at all. The only times they did that I can remember ended in rather bad disasters (that's where the Japanese got the word "kamikaze" from).

Mongols are an exception, though to be honest their empire didn't really survive very long...

Great Lord of the Dark
04-04-2012, 11:40 PM
The main reason people seem to think population decline is a problem is that our pension funds cannot be sustained without more suckers entering than claiming from the pot.

Without a need to have children -labor for farms, overcome losses to disease, a status symbol - there is no reason other than personal preference to dictate birth rates. Comparisons to old times are not valid, they had no modern health care (which keeps deaths at historic lows) and no modern contraception with extremely high rates of efficacy and accessibility. Given these two factors, every industrialized country has had plunging birth rates below replacement rate, and there is absolutely no incentive for this to change. The only place where these factors have had no effect so far is sub-saharan Africa.

The birth rate will continue to fall in place swhere it hasn't already, and people will have babies if they want them, and for no other reason. People will live longer, so population may rise for a while yet, but population declines seem plausible, and do not have to result in sever dislocations.

Back in the Wheel of Time, there is no reason that population can't have been consistently growing. Disease is the biggest factor in population decrease, not war, or famine. All Ishamael's contrivances to kill and pillage can be undone with a few germ-free centuries. Who's to say that there's even been a decline, there could just as easily have been eligration from the inhospitable areas to other nearby nations.