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Default Clearing the rubble - major spoilers!

The online WoT fandom has known for some time now exactly what 'clear the rubble' means. We all thought we were clever for having figured it out. But after TOM, it seems clear to me that there is a mystery that we have been overlooking, in regards to the idea of breaking the seals.

The evidence for this mystery progresses chronologically - in fact, I will only break chronology a few times, when certain quotes need to be side by side.

The first three seals were found broken; Domon, Turak, and Egeanin all handled an unbroken one, but none of them noticed anything strange about the seals. The first to notice something was Nynaeve:

Quote:
Originally Posted by RJ
TITLE - The Fires of Heaven
CHAPTER: 9 - A Signal

As much as she wanted to find out where Siuan Sanche wanted them to chase the Black Ajah next, the seal was the source of her haste to reach Tar Valon. Digging coins from one of the fat purses, she avoided touching the flat purse; the longer it remained in her possession, the more she wanted to hand it to the Amyrlin and be done with it. Sometimes she thought she could feel the Dark One, trying to break through, when she was near the thing.
The feeling only grows stronger, as time goes on:

Quote:
Originally Posted by RJ
TITLE - The Fires of Heaven
CHAPTER: 48 - Leavetakings

She was only trying to avoid the washleather purse stuffed right to the back, and she knew it, yet there was not a hair's difference for ugliness between the purse and the thought of losing to Moghedien again. Drawing a deep breath, she gingerly reached in and took it up by the drawstrings, and knew she had been wrong. Evil seemed to bathe her hand, stronger than ever, as if the Dark One really was trying to break through the cuendillar seal inside. Better to dwell all day on defeat by Moghedien; there was a world of difference between thought and reality. It had to be imagination – there had been no such feeling in Tanchico – but she wished she could let Elayne carry that, too. Or leave it there.

Stop being foolish, she told herself firmly. It holds the Dark One's prison shut. You are just letting your fancies run wild. But she still dropped it like a week-dead rat onto the red dress Luca had had made, then wrapped and tied the thing securely with more than a little haste. The silken parcel went into the middle of a bundle of clothes she was taking with her, inside her good gray traveling cloak. A few inches' distance was enough to take away the sensation of dark bleakness, but she still wanted to wash her hand. If only she did not know it was there. She was being foolish. Elayne would laugh at her, and Birgitte, as well. And rightly.
Strange, that it only seemed to feel that way to Nynaeve after Tanchico. And the next we hear of the seal, two chapters later, it is broken, for no reason that anyone can see:

Quote:
Originally Posted by RJ
TITLE - The Fires of Heaven
CHAPTER: 50 - To Teach, and Learn

"It was whole when we put it in the purse." Nynaeve paused to work moisture back into her mouth. As much as her eyes had avoided the covering cloth before, they could not leave the seal now. Leane had smirked when she saw the red dress unwrapped from around its cargo, and said... No, she would not run away from it, even in her head! "Why should we have thought to take special care? It's cuendillar!"

"We didn't look at it," Elayne said breathlessly, "or touch it more than we had to. It felt filthy, evil." It no longer did. Carlinya had made them each hold a piece, demanding to know what evil feeling they were talking about.
Was it bringing Moghedien to Salidar that broke the seal? Rand did important things with the conquests of Cairhien and then Caemlyn, but the seal was still whole after the conquest of Cairhien, and it broke before Rand killed Rahvin. He doesn't appear to have done anything of note in between; Moiraine's battle with Lanfear was, of course, also after the seal shattered.

Rand had never handled an unbroken seal at this point, but he was close enough to two of them to feel the evil:

Quote:
Originally Posted by RJ
TITLE - The Fires of Heaven
CHAPTER: 52 - Choices

"What is it you want me to see, Moiraine?" Rand said impatiently, tying Jeade'en's reins to one wheel of the last wagon in line.

She was standing on tiptoe to peer over the side of the wagonbed at a pair of casks that seemed familiar. Unless he was mistaken, they held the two cuendillar seals, packed in wool for protection now that they were no longer unbreakable. He felt the Dark One's taint strongly here; it almost seemed to come from the casks, a faint miasma as from something rotting in a hidden place.
Rand's brilliant idea to break the seals came from one of his most insane moments in the entire series - and it just so happened to be the first time he ever handled an unbroken seal. At the time, the three previously mentioned had broken; he was unaware of the one found in Tanchico, and he had Moiraine's two...and now Taim's:

Quote:
Originally Posted by RJ
TITLE - Lord of Chaos
CHAPTER: 2 - A New Arrival

Three broken. Three in his possession. Where was the seventh? Only four seals stood between humankind and the Dark One. Four, if the last was still whole. Only four, standing between humankind and the Last Battle. How well did they still hold, weakened as they were?

Lews Therin’s voice came up like thunder. Break it break them all must break them must must must break them all break them and strike must strike quickly must strike now break it break it break it...

Rand shook with the effort of fighting that voice down, forcing away a mist that clung like spiderwebs. His muscles ached as if he wrestled with a man of flesh, a giant. Handful by handful he stuffed the fog that was Lews Therin into the deepest crannies, the deepest shadows, he could find in his mind.

Abruptly he heard the words he was muttering hoarsely. "Must break it now break them all break it break it break it." Abruptly he realized he had his hands over his head, holding the seal, ready to smash it to the white pavement. The only thing stopping him was Bashere, up on his toes, hands raised to grip Rand’s arms.

"I don’t know what that is," Bashere said quietly, "but I think maybe you should wait before deciding to break it. Eh?" Tumad and the others were no longer watching Taim; they gaped wide-eyed at Rand. Even the Maidens had shifted their eyes to him, eyes full of concern. Sulin took a half step toward the men, and Jalani’s hand was outstretched toward Rand as if she did not realize it.

"No." Rand swallowed; his throat hurt. "I don’t think I should." Bashere stepped back slowly, and Rand brought the seal down just as slowly.
It's so easy to assume that this is explained by Lews Therin trying to take over. But, since we know that Lews Therin is Rand, and always has been, that doesn't make much sense. Every instance where Lews Therin 'tries to take over' has a rational explanation. The scene in Tel'aran'rhiod in the previous book is explained by the fact that you can change your appearance accidentally there with just a thought. All of the later instances are explained by Rand's confusion about the link with Moridin.

But this one is before the link with Moridin, assuming that the link was forged by the balefire incident in Shadar Logoth. So this instance is best explained by the feeling that Nynaeve gets when she touches the seal, as if the Dark One is trying to break through. Perhaps this is explained simply by the fact that Rand had already channeled so much of the taint.

And it's not as if there isn't at least something of an impulse from the part of Rand that is Lews Therin, but that impulse is suicidal. He isn't offering wisdom here, despite the words. In fact, I would not be surprised if these words - must strike quickly - are a reflection of the Dark One's thoughts, rather than Lews Therin's.

In some ways, it seems inevitable that Rand will break the seals. Egwene even has a dream that he will (notice we are still progressing chronologically):

Quote:
Originally Posted by RJ
TITLE - Lord of Chaos
CHAPTER: 15 - A Pile of Sand

Several concerned Rand, not all bad, but all odd. Elayne, forcing him to his knees with one hand. Elayne and Min and Aviendha, sitting in a silent circle around him, each in turn reaching out to lay a hand on him. Him walking toward a burning mountain, something crunching beneath his boots. She stirred and whimpered; the crunching things were the seals on the Dark One’s prison, shattering with his every step. She knew it. She did not need to see them to know.
But dreams are only possibilities, not certainties. Perhaps he will break them, perhaps he won't. This post is more about questioning all of the reasons why we (in general) are so sure that he should. Those reasons are highly suspect.

When 'Lews Therin' 'took over' and insisted on breaking the seal, Rand suspected that maybe the guy knew what he was talking about. After all, he is the one who made them in the first place. So, Rand has made the acquaintance of a philosopher named Herid Fel, who lives at Rand's new school, built in Barthanes' old manor, where the Waygate of Alcair'rahien'allen resides:

Quote:
Originally Posted by RJ
TITLE - Lord of Chaos
CHAPTER: 18 - A Taste of Solitude

"Mervin is welcome to bring it if he can," he told her dryly. Maybe the thing was supposed to make music? All those shrieks? "I don’t see Herid. Did he forget to come down?"

Idrien sighed again. Herid Fel was an Andoran who somehow had ended up reading in the Royal Library here – a student of history and philosophy, he called himself – and hardly the sort to endear himself to her. "My Lord Dragon, he never comes out of his study except to go to the Library."

...

"Is there any reason you can think of to break the seals?"

Herid’s eyebrows shot up. "Break the seals? Break the seals? Why would anyone but a madman want to do that? Can they even be broken? I seem to remember reading somewhere they can’t, but I don’t recall now that it said why. What made you think of a thing like that?"

"I don’t know," Rand sighed. In the back of his head Lews Therin was chanting. Break the seals. Break the seals, and end it. Let me die forever.
Herid Fel thinks Rand is slap crazy! As well he should. And Lews Therin confirms here that his impulse to break the seals is suicidal. He doesn't have any secret strategy on how to seal the prison; he wants to die forever.

Rand visits Herid Fel again toward the end of the book, and he has difficulty getting Fel to talk about what he needs to know, apparently because Min distracts him:

Quote:
Originally Posted by RJ
TITLE - Lord of Chaos
CHAPTER: 50 - Thorns

A quick visit to the school in Barthanes’ onetime palace turned out not so quick. Idrien Tarsin was once again waiting at the door to show him all sorts of inventions and discoveries, often incomprehensible, and also the shops where various new plows and harrows and reapers were now being made for sale, but the difficulty was Herid Fel. Or maybe Min. Fel’s thoughts wandered as usual, his tongue wandered after them, and he plainly forgot Min was there. He forgot her a good many times. But no sooner would Rand have the man aimed at a point, than Fel suddenly noticed her for the first time again and gave a great start. He was constantly apologizing to her for the half-smoked pipe he still never seemed to remember to light, constantly brushing ash from his stout belly, constantly smoothing his thin gray hair. Min seemed to enjoy it, though why she enjoyed a man forgetting her presence, Rand could not begin to say. She even kissed Fel on top of his head when she and Rand rose to go, which left the man looking poleaxed. It did not help a great deal with learning what Fel had puzzled out about the Seals on the Dark One’s prison or the Last Battle.

The next day brought a note crammed onto a torn-off corner of parchment.

Belief and order give strength. Have to clear rubble before you can build. Will explain when see you next. Do not bring girl. Too pretty.
—Fel

It was a hasty scrawl with the signature jammed into the point of the fragment, and to Rand it made no sense. When he tried to reach Fel again, though, it seemed that the man had told Idrien that he felt young again and was going fishing. In the middle of a drought. Rand wondered whether the old man’s wits had finally cracked. Min certainly found the note amusing; she asked if she could have it, and several times he caught her grinning over it.
Fel's disappearance is perhaps the oddest thing about this. But of course, all of us knew when we read it that Fel was most likely talking about the seals. He'd finally thought of a reason why Rand should break them.

The next we hear of Fel, he is dead. And according to Steven Cooper's chronology, Herid Fel was killed exactly one day before we first saw Moridin on screen, spying on Sammael and Graendal:

Quote:
Originally Posted by RJ
TITLE - A Crown of Swords
CHAPTER: 19 - Diamonds and Stars

"I’m glad you came," he said suddenly, still staring at the ceiling. "I’ve been sitting here alone. Alone." He gave a bitter bark of a laugh. "Herid Fel is dead."

"No," she whispered, "not that sweet little old man." Her eyes stung.

"He was torn apart." Rand’s voice was so tired. So empty. "Idrien fainted when she found him. She lay in a stupor half the night, and was nearly incoherent when finally roused. One of the other women at the school gave her something to make her sleep. She was embarrassed about that. When she came to me, she started crying again and... It had to be Shadowspawn. What else could tear a man limb from limb?" Without raising his head, he smacked a fist down on the chair arm so hard the wood creaked. "But why? Why was he killed? What could he have told me?"
The glossary confirms that Fel was killed by a gholam. But are we to believe that it is a coincidence that Fel was killed the day before Moridin first appeared?

RJ confirmed that Fel was killed because of his meetings with Rand:

Quote:
Originally Posted by RJ
Quote:
Originally Posted by RJ
Balticon XXX April 1996 - Pam Korda reporting


Fel was killed because somebody thought he might reveal too much.

Rand assumes the same, of course. We are left to understand that Fel was killed because he was going to tell Rand to break the seals.

But this doesn't make sense. Fel's body, displayed as it was, was clearly a message to Rand. If Fel might reveal too much, then wouldn't it be better to kill him quietly? Someone wanted him to know that Fel was on to something...or to think that Fel was on to something.

At the end of ACOS, Rand and Moridin meet in Shadar Logoth, and they do the unthinkable, and cross the streams - balefire saidin and the True Power - to fight the ghost of Aridhol. This appears to have been the genesis of the link between them. But just before then, Min shares a viewing with Rand:

Quote:
Originally Posted by RJ
TITLE - A Crown of Swords
CHAPTER: 33 - A Bath

"The viewings?"

She folded her arms and frowned up at him through her lashes. She chewed her lip and frowned at the door. She shook her head and muttered under her breath. At last she said, "There is only one, really. I was exaggerating. I saw you and another man. I couldn’t make out either face, but I knew one was you. You touched, and seemed to merge into one another, and... " Her mouth tightened worriedly, and she went on in a very small voice. "I don’t know what it means, Rand, except that one of you dies, and one doesn’t. I - Why are you grinning? This isn’t a joke, Rand. I do not know which of you dies."
Rand, of course, was grinning because he thought Min was telling him that Lews Therin was real, which meant that he wasn't insane after all.

The construct camp had the right idea about Rand and Lews Therin being the same person, and the voice in his head being...something else. Rarely the memories. Often Rand's suppressed thoughts and emotions.

One of the most difficult things to explain from the perspective of construct theory has been the instances where Lews Therin 'takes over'. Some of them are easy to explain, like the first such instance in TFOH, as Rand battles Rahvin in Tel'aran'rhiod. That is easily explained by the fact that one's appearance is 'a matter of thought' in the dream world. Most people only have difficulty controlling their clothing, but most people do not have memories from past lives, complete with alternate faces. The seal incident is even easy to explain. The time Rand seized saidin when Taim was at full power unconsciously - that is easily explained.

But one thing that is notable about all of the later instances is that they get more difficult to explain in terms of construct theory. I think that all of us in the construct camp saw it as a progression...the reality of Rand=Lews Therin was getting more difficult to deny, so the mental gymnastics required to maintain the illusion became more convoluted.

Another thing that is notable about all of those later instances is that Rand seems to be most vulnerable to 'Lews Therin' when he tries to seize saidin. I have said before that this is the part of Rand who subconsciously recognizes the danger of the link with Moridin, but it may be that the sense of a physical struggle is actually a result of a struggle for control with Moridin. Rand always experiences the sickness and dizziness when seizing saidin - or at least he did, before TOM (and we're not really sure if he does or doesn't in TOM either, though we don't see any sign of it). Usually, Rand only saw Moridin's face when taking hold of the Power, with the dizziness, but interestingly, it happened once without:

Quote:
Originally Posted by RJ
TITLE - Knife of Dreams
CHAPTER: 18 - News for the Dragon

“They’re well,” he said, calmly ignoring a piercing look from Cadsuane. She did not know everything, and he intended to keep it that way. Calm on the surface, content, blowing smoke rings. Inside was another matter. Where are they? he thought angrily, pushing down another appearance of the colors. That was as easy as breathing, now. I need them, and they’re off for a day at the Ansaline Gardens.

Abruptly another image was floating his head, a man’s face, and his breath caught. For the first time, it came without any dizziness. For the first time, he could see it clearly in the moments before it vanished.
A blue-eyed man with a square chin, perhaps a few years older than himself. Or rather, he saw it clearly for the first time in a long while. It was the face of the stranger who had saved his life in Shadar Logoth when he fought Sammael. Worse…

He was aware of me, Lews Therin said. He sounded sane for a change. Sometimes he did, but the madness always returned eventually. How can a face appearing in my mind be aware of me?

If you don’t know, how do you expect me to? Rand thought. But I was aware of him, as well. It had been a strange sensation, as if he were… touching… the other man somehow. Only not physically. A residue hung on. It seemed he only had to move a hair’s breadth, in any direction, to touch him again. I think he saw my face, too.
The Forsaken had a meeting in Tel'aran'rhiod in chapter 3 - At the Gardens. Graendal chose the setting, and she chose a place called the Ansaline Gardens. Did Moridin's presence in that place cause Rand to think of it in the first place? Or did Rand thinking of it cause him to be able to see Moridin? Notice how Rand uses the same language to describe this link with Moridin as Min used in her viewing: they 'touch, and seem to merge'. Rand says it is as if he is 'touching' Moridin - only not physically. As for the 'merge', we can go all the way back to book one for foreshadowing of that:

Quote:
Originally Posted by RJ
TITLE - The Eye of the World
CHAPTER: 24 - Flight Down the Arinelle

"A dream!" Rand shouted. "This is a dream!"

Ba'alzamon's eyes began to widen, in surprise or anger or both, then the air shimmered, and his features blurred, and faded.

Rand turned about in one spot, staring. Staring at his own image thrown back at him a thousandfold. Ten thousandfold. Above was blackness, and blackness below, but all around him stood mirrors, mirrors set at every angle, mirrors as far as he could see, all showing him, crouched and turning, staring wide-eyed and frightened.

A red blur drifted across the mirrors. He spun, trying to catch it, but in every mirror it drifted behind his own image and vanished. Then it was back again, but not as a blur. Ba'alzamon strode across the mirrors, ten thousand Ba'alzamons, searching, crossing and re-crossing the silvery mirrors.

He found himself staring at the reflection of his own face, pale and shivering in the knife-edge cold. Ba'alzamon's image grew behind his, staring at him; not seeing, but staring still. In every mirror, the flames of Ba'alzamon's face raged behind him, enveloping, consuming, merging. He wanted to scream, but his throat was frozen. There was only one face in those endless mirrors. His own face. Ba'alzamon's face. One face.
Since Rand's epiphany on Dragonmount, it seems we have every reason to believe that Rand has overcome Moridin's influence. The effects of the taint, at least, are warded by a force of Light in his brain. Nynaeve saw some scary stuff inside his head, but for the moment, Rand seems to be safe from it.

But I think that there are many reasons to suspect that the danger is not past. RJ has said that there are several points along the way where the Shadow has a chance to win. It seems clear that the Dark One has plans in place for nearly every possibility. Rand won a huge victory at Dragonmount, but it is not over yet. And there is a great deal of reason to suspect that, while Rand is warded from the effects of the taint, and maybe even the effects of having channeled the True Power, he is not protected from his link with Moridin.

Getting back to Herid Fel. Clearly his death was a message to Rand, that Fel knew too much. The big question is...did Fel's killer (not the gholam, but the person who sent it - presumably Moridin) know about the note that Fel sent? Did the he use Compulsion? It would be hard to tell with someone like Fel. Did he Compel Fel to write the note, or did he learn of it, and then kill Fel to make Rand believe that the note had the right answers when in fact they were horribly wrong?

One thing that is interesting to me is that Fel's note also mentions that 'belief and order give strength'. This seems pretty logical. You could say that 'belief' is represented by Elayne and Nynaeve who, unlike the Wise Ones, feel loyal to Rand concerning his plan for the seals. Many readers will read TOM and immediately sympathize with one cause or the other. Most will trust Rand. But should we? What if Moridin can use Rand's new Jesus-like powers to his advantage? What if Moridin has no control of it, but the link is still dangerous anyway, unknown to Rand?

Another interesting thing is that 'order' can probably be most closely associated, thematically, with the Seanchan. Rand's lands have been chaos, while life under Seanchan rule has been peaceful and generally happy. Of course, that was partly because Rand was descending into madness. But the Seanchan are essentially an unwitting tool of Moridin. He set them in motion over a thousand years ago, and he most likely had something to do with the corruption of the prophecies that has led to Tuon thinking that Rand must bow to her, while Rand believe she must bow to him. Aviendha's vision of the future indicates that Rand is willing to bow to her to make his Peace. But is that a good thing? It seems to have been part of what led Oncala to believe that the Seanchan would break the Peace, though there were certainly some unrelated motives behind that belief. In any case, it is something to consider about Fel's note.

Before we leave ACOS completely, there is a random comment from Egwene that becomes more interesting around the time of TPOD:

Quote:
Originally Posted by RJ
TITLE - A Crown of Swords
CHAPTER: 12 - A Morning of Victory

Egwene let Myrelle’s words pass her by. Bryne had looked at her when he mentioned Mat. The sisters thought they knew the situation with the Band, and Mat, and did not think on it much, but Bryne apparently did. Tilting her head so the brim of her hat obscured her face, she studied him from the corner of her eye. He was oath-bound to build the army and lead it until Elaida was brought down, but why had he sworn? Surely he could have found some lesser oath, and it surely would have been accepted by sisters who only thought to use all those soldiers as a Foolday mask to frighten Elaida. Having him on their side was comforting; even the other Aes Sedai seemed to feel that. Like her father, he was the sort of man who made you believe there was no cause for panic whatever the situation. Having him oppose her, she realized suddenly, might be as bad as having the Hall against her, and never mind the army. The one approving comment Siuan had ever had of him was that he was formidable, even if she did try to change her remark immediately to mean something else. Any man Siuan Sanche thought formidable was one to be mindful of.
Apparently, the Foolday holiday in the Two Rivers involves wearing masks. In TPOD, Egwene has a dream about Rand, and masks:

Quote:
Originally Posted by RJ
TITLE - The Path of Daggers
CHAPTER: 15 - Stronger Than Written Law

In the dim, cold dark of deep night, Egwene woke groggily from restless sleep and troubling dreams, the more troubling because she could not remember them. Her dreams were always open to her, as clear as printed words on a page, yet these had been murky and fearful. She had had too many of those, lately. They left her wanting to run, to escape, never able to recall what from, but always queasy and uncertain, even trembling. At least her head was not hurting. At least she could recall the dreams she knew must be significant, though not how to interpret them. Rand, wearing different masks, until suddenly one of those false faces was no longer a mask, but him.
So, that seems like a pretty Felix-like connection at this point. But what is particularly interesting about it is that the BWB was released around the same time as TPOD. And in it, we learn a little about Foolday:

Quote:
Originally Posted by RJ/TP
TITLE - The World of Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time
CHAPTER: 31 - Holidays and the Calendar
Quote:
Originally Posted by RJ/TP
The Feast of Fools
Celebrated in Tammaz (in Arad Doman and the Borderlands) or Saven (everywhere else), the exact day varying according to locality. A day in which all order is deliberately inverted; the high perform lowly tasks (running errands, serving at table, etc.) while the low do no work and give orders to their usual superiors. In many villages and towns the most foolish person is given a title such as the Lord/Lady of Unreason/Misrule/Chaos or the King/Queen of Fools. Not an honor sought, but for that one day everyone has to obey whatever orders, however foolish, are given by the chosen one. (Called the Festival of Unreason in Saldaea; the Festival of Fools in Kandor; Foolday in Baerlon and the Two Rivers.) Note: In Tear, Illian and the southern half of Altara, the time between the Feast of Abram and the Feast of Fools is considered the most propitious for a wedding.

Rand's epiphany on Dragonmount, and also his visit to Egwene in Tar Valon, both happened in the month of Saven, though toward the end. There is one month between Saven and Tammaz, where Foolday is celebrated in the Borderlands and in Arad Doman. In between is Sunday. Most interesting is that Rand's title, given to him by the Dark One - the lord of chaos - appears to come from this holiday. Or perhaps the holiday is a remembrance of the Dragon soul in a past Turning of the Wheel.
Also interesting is that Mat spoke the marriage words to Tuon after the Feast of Abram, and she returned them before the Feast of Fools.

But perhaps most interesting is that Baerlon is mentioned as being connected to the Two Rivers in this. The reason is logical and simple - Baerlon is not that far outside the Two Rivers. But Min is from Baerlon. And before you compare me to Felix again...notice the title of Herid Fel's most notable book, first mentioned in TPOD:

Quote:
Originally Posted by RJ
TITLE - The Path of Daggers
CHAPTER: 27 - The Bargain

Seated cross-legged in a heavily gilded, high-backed chair, Min tried to lose herself in the leather-bound copy of Herid Fel’s Reason and Unreason lying open on her knees. It was not easy. Oh, the book itself was mesmerizing; Master Fel’s writings always swept her into worlds of thought she had not dreamed of while working in stables. She very much regretted the sweet old man’s death. She hoped to find a clue in his books to why he had been killed. Her dark ringlets swung as she shook her head and tried to apply herself.
It is interesting to me how Min was the one to become interested in reading Fel's books. Rand had no head for it. But I wonder, what would happen now, if Rand picked up one of Fel's books and read it? Would he think to himself, "I have read this before"?

Back to the BWB, which was, again, released around the same time as TPOD:

Quote:
Originally Posted by RJ/TP
TITLE - The World of Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time
CHAPTER: 5 - The Dark One and the Male Forsaken

ISHAMAEL

Foremost of the thirteen who formed the high council of the Shadow’s forces was Ishamael, or “Betrayer of Hope” in the Old Tongue. Also known as Ba'alzamon, Heart of the Dark, and Soul of the Shadow, he was assuredly the Dark One’s top captain-general despite the fact that he never held a direct field command. Believed to be the most powerful of the Chosen in the use of the One Power, he was equaled by none but Lews Therin Telamon himself.

As Elan Morin Tedronai, he was one of the foremost philosophers of his time, possibly the foremost. His books (among them Analysis of Perceived Meaning, Reality and the Absence of Meaning, and The Disassembly of Reason), while too esoteric for wide popularity, were extremely influential in many areas beyond philosophy, especially in the arts. No copies survive, and perhaps the world is better off for it, considering the circumstances. Some particles that have survived of his writings from after he went over to the Shadow - probably letters - indicate that it was his belief that the war between the Shadow and the soul of Lews Therin Telamon had gone on since the creation using human surrogates. According to him, Lews Therin had succumbed to the Dark One during other turnings of the Wheel and become the Great Lord’s champion. During the war, he fought as hard to turn Lews Therin to the side of the Shadow as he did to defeat him.
Can we even be sure that Fel's books were written by Fel? Are both Rand and Min being played for fools? For all we know, every single book in Fel's possession could have been replaced with books that Moridin wanted Rand to read. Or wanted Min to read. That might explain why she was mentioned in the note. Or, Fel might have thought she was pretty, but Moridin wanted to pose as Fel and worried that Min would read him? He surely knew of her talent by then. There are many questions concerning Herid Fel, and few answers. But interestingly, as Min is searching through Fel's books in the next book, 'Lews Therin' mentions the 'other one':

Quote:
Originally Posted by RJ
TITLE - Winter's Heart
PROLOGUE - Snow

I thought I could build, Lews Therin murmured in his head. I was wrong. We are not builders, not you, or I, or the other one. We are destroyers. Destroyers.

Rand shivered, and scrubbed his hands through his hair. The other one? At times, the voice sounded sanest when it was the most mad. They were watching him, Dobraine very nearly hiding uncertainty, Idrien making no effort to. Straightening as if nothing was wrong, he drew two slim packets from inside his coat. Both carried the Dragon in a long lump of red wax on the outside. The belt buckle he was not wearing at the moment served for an impressive signet.

“The top one names you my steward in Cairhien,” he said, handing the packets to Dobraine. A third still nestled next to his chest, for Gregorin den Lushenos, making him steward in Illian. “So there’ll be no trouble with anyone questioning your authority while I’m gone.” Dobraine could handle that sort of trouble with his armsmen, but best to make sure no one could claim ignorance or doubt. Maybe there would be no trouble to handle if everyone believed the Dragon Reborn would descend on transgressors. “There are orders about things, I want done, but aside from those, use your own judgment. When the Lady Elayne lays claim to the Sun Throne, throw your full support behind her.” Elayne. Oh, Light, Elayne, and Aviendha. At least they were safe. Min’s voice sounded happier, now; she must have found Master Fel’s books. He was going to let her follow him to her death because he was not strong enough to stop her. Ilyena , Lews Therin moaned. Forgive me, Ilyena! Rand’s voice came out as cold as winter’s heart. “You’ll know when to deliver the other. Whether to deliver it. Pry him out if need be, and decide by what he says. If you decide not, or he refuses, I’ll pick someone else. Not you.”
Then, in the next book, we notice that Rand has a strange thought that is somehow unexplained by Lews Therin's influence:

Quote:
Originally Posted by RJ
TITLE - Crossroads of Twilight
CHAPTER: 24 - A Strengthening Storm

Irritably, Rand pushed his sleeves down and dropped into a chair. What he had done made no matter to Logain. The man knew saidin was clean, but he could not believe Rand or any man had actually done the cleansing. Did he think the Creator had decided to stretch out a merciful hand after three thousand years of suffer*ing? The Creator had made the world and then left humankind to make of it what they would, a heaven or the Pit of Doom by their choosing. The Creator had made many worlds, watched each flower or die, and gone on to make endless worlds beyond. A gardener did not weep for each blossom that fell.

For an instant, he thought those must have been Lews Therin’s reflections. He had never gone on that way about the Creator or anything else that he recalled. But he could feel
Lews Therin nod*ding in approval, a man listening to someone else. Still, it was not the kind of thing he would have considered before Lews Therin. How much space remained between them?
Now Rand is thinking Moridin's thoughts! And this comes in the context of a conversation with Logain about Taim, who gave Rand a seal, and is immediately followed by Bashere telling Rand of the attack on his tent, and on Dobraine, in an obvious search for the seals.

In the next book, at the aforementioned Ansaline Gardens of Tel'aran'rhiod, we learn that Demandred, at least, has been looking for them. But Moridin doesn't seem too worried about them:

Quote:
Originally Posted by RJ
TITLE - Knife of Dreams
CHAPTER: 3 - At the Gardens

“We can see the signs as clearly as you, Moridin,” Demandred said irritably. “The Time is near. We need to find the rest of the seals on the Great Lord’s prison. I’ve had my followers searching everywhere, but they’ve found nothing.’’

“Ah, yes. The seals. Indeed, they must be found.” Moridin’s smile was almost complacent. “Only three remain, all in al’Thor’s possession. though I doubt he has them with him. They’re too susceptible to breaking, now. He will have hidden them. Direct your people to places he has been. Search them yourselves.”
It seems to me that Moridin gave the orders to search for the seals only as a means of reinforcing his authority, much in the same way that Elayne gave Mat orders to do things that she knew he would have to do anyway. Why is he so complacent? Is it because he knows that Rand and Min are already on the path to 'discovering' that Rand should break the seals? A path that he set them on when he sent the message of Fel's death?

Min finally figures it out in the next book:

Quote:
Originally Posted by RJ/BWS
TITLE - The Gathering Storm
CHAPTER: 15 - A Place to Begin

Min glanced at her books. Herid's little slip of paper still peeked from the depths of Thoughts Among the Ruins. "Rand," she said. "You have to destroy the seals to the Dark One's prison."

He looked at her, frowning.

"I'm sure of it," she said. "I've been reading Herid's books all this time, and I believe that's what he meant by 'clearing away the rubble.' In order to rebuild the Dark One's prison, you will first need to open it. Clear away the patch made on the Bore."

She had expected him to be incredulous. Shockingly, he just nodded. "Yes," he said. "Yes, that sounds right. I doubt that many will wish to hear it. If those seals are broken, there is no way to tell what will happen. If I fail to contain him . . ."

The prophecies didn't say Rand would win. Only that he would fight. Min shivered again—blasted window!—but met Rand's gaze. "You'll win. You'll defeat him."

He sighed. "Faith in a madman, Min?"

"Faith in you, sheepherder." Suddenly viewings spun around his head. She ignored them most of the time, unless they were new, but now she picked them out. Fireflies consumed in darkness. Three women before a pyre. Flashes of light, darkness, shadow, signs of death, crowns, injuries, pain and hope. A tempest around Rand al'Thor, stronger than any physical storm.

"We still don't know what to do," he said. "The seals are brittle enough that I could break them in my hands, but what then? How do I stop him? Does it say anything of that in your books?"

"It's hard to tell," she admitted. "The clues—if that's what they are—are vague. I will keep looking. I promise. I'll find answers for you."
The bright idea comes from Fel's note, and Fel's books. Both of which are highly suspect. But Min believes in Rand, and Rand believes that Min will find the 'what next' in those books.

Later on, Lews Therin inexplicably agrees. But Lews Therin doesn't have a clue about the 'what next', either. This conversation is preceded by Rand musing on why Moridin came to help him in Shadar Logoth, and it is immediately followed by Rand noticing Deira Bashere - who was wounded in the search for the seals - and then, of course, the Semirhage incident:

Quote:
Originally Posted by RJ/BWS
TITLE - The Gathering Storm
CHAPTER: 22 - The Last That Could Be Done

She's right, Lews Therin said suddenly.

She?
Rand asked.

The pretty one. With the short hair. She says we need to break the seals. She's right.


Rand froze, pulling Tai'daishar up short, ignoring the groom who had come to take the horse. To hear Lews Therin agreeing. . . .

What do we do after that?
Rand asked.

We die. You promised we could die!


Only if we defeat the Dark One
, Rand said. You know that if he wins, there will be nothing for us. Not even death.

Yes . . . nothing
, Lews Therin said. That would be nice. No pain, no regret. Nothing.

Rand felt a chill. If Lews Therin began to think that way . . . No
, Rand said, it wouldn't be nothing. He would have our soul. The pain would be worse, far worse.

Lews Therin began to weep.

Lews Therin!
Rand snapped in his mind. What do we do? How did you seal the Bore last time?

It didn't work
, Lews Therin whispered. We used saidin, but we touched it to the Dark One. It was the only way! Something has to touch him, something to close the gap, but he was able to taint it. The seal was weak!

Yes, but what do we do differently?
Rand thought.

Silence.

Isn't it a bit odd that Lews Therin doesn't even seem to know Min's name? But, inexplicably, Lews Therin puts Min's name on the List after Rand almost kills her.

Rand conquered the darkness within him on Dragonmount...but he still remains convinced that he should break the seals, for no other reason than that Min believes that is what Fel was trying to tell them. And in TOM, that conviction comes to the center of our attention. Rand announces his intentions to Egwene, so that she can 'plan', ostensibly so that all of the monarchs will be gathered in one place so that he can force his Peace on them as a price for his sacrifice at Shayol Ghul.

Almost all of Rand's appearances in TOM are outside of his POV, but he tells Min that he still has no freaking clue what he's supposed to do after he breaks the seals:

Quote:
Originally Posted by RJ/BWS
TITLE - Towers of Midnight
CHAPTER: 13 - For What Has Been Wrought

"I need you, Min."

"You have me. Stupid looby."

"Callandor," he said. "It plays a part in this. You have to find out how. I cannot seal the Bore the way I tried last time. I'm missing something, something vital. Find it for me."

"I will, Rand." A cold shiver ran through her. "I promise."

"I trust you." He looked up as a figure in a deep hooded cloak walked out of one of the Stone's many guard posts.
But Min thinks that Callandor is dangerous, and that if he uses it at Shayol Ghul, then 'all that he is can be seized'. She may be right, and she may be wrong, but she still doesn't seem to have a clue what Rand should do after he breaks the seals.

There are two scenes near the end of TOM that raise the stakes in this game quite a bit, IMO. The first is Egwene's:

Quote:
Originally Posted by RJ/BWS
TITLE - Towers of Midnight
CHAPTER: 56 - Something Wrong

"Egwene, what if al'Thor isn't coming? What if he did this to distract everyone from whatever else he's doing?"

"Why would he do that?" Egwene said. "He's already proven that he can avoid being found, if he wants to." She shook her head. "Gawyn, he knows he shouldn't break those seals. A part of him does, at least. Perhaps that's why he told me—so I could gather resistance, so I could talk him out of it."
Those who are inclined to trust Rand's instincts absolutely are satisfied with Rand's given reasons for giving Egwene that month to 'plan':

Quote:
Originally Posted by RJ/BWS
TITLE - Towers of Midnight
EPILOGUE - And After

...this was one of his own ordinary dreams. He controlled them now. They were a place he could find peace to think, protected by wards while his body slept beside Min in their new camp, surrounded by Borderlanders, set up on the Field of Merrilor. Egwene was there, with armies marshaled. He was ready for that. He'd counted on it.

On the morrow, they'd hear his demands. Not what he would demand to keep him from breaking the seals—he was going to do that, regardless of what Egwene said. No, these would be the demands he made on the monarchs of the world for going to Shayol Ghul to face the Dark One.

...

In the distance, he heard screams of pain.

Rand opened his eyes. What had that been? He stood up, spinning. This place was created of his own mind, protected and safe. It couldn't—

The scream came again. Distant. He frowned and raised a hand. The scene around him vanished, puffing away into mist....
Still no mention of a plan, other than the Peace, and the plan to break the seals no matter what Egwene and her allies say about it. But this is not the most disturbing thing about it. Rand's dreams are warded. Theoretically, no one should be able to enter them at all. But yet, Cyndane shows up, as if she has every right to be there.

IMO, there is only one explanation for this. Rand was able to enter Moridin's dream because of the link between them. Nothing can enter them from the outside, but that link is on the inside. They are merging. As for Cyndane, I believe she was a product of Moridin's mind - perhaps Moridin's dream, perhaps something consciously done - rather than her actually being there.

IMO, the biggest hint that Rand is still connected to Moridin comes from the desire that he felt for Cyndane. I explain my reasoning in this theory. However, there is perhaps another bold clue in that same passage:

Quote:
Originally Posted by RJ/BWS
Rand froze, staring into that pit. He sought calmness, but he could not find it. Instead, he felt hatred, concern, and—like a seething viper within him—desire. That had been Mierin Eronaile, a woman he had once called the Lady Selene.

A woman most people knew by the name she'd taken upon herself. Lanfear.
Throughout the entire series, the symbol representing the Forsaken has been a viper. And this dream makes it clear to me that it is too early to assume that Rand has defeated the viper within him. Min's viewing indicates that the merging of Rand and Moridin will end with the death of one of them. She does not know which. But neither of them is dead, yet.

This fact, combined with Egwene's gut feeling that Rand knows he shouldn't break the seals, combined with the highly suspicious circumstances surrounding Herid Fel, makes it clear to me that we should not be so sanguine about Rand's belief that he should break the seals. We should not be so quick to assume that this is Lews Therin vs. Latra Posae all over again, even though Rand frames it that way. And although breaking the seals would be a nifty use for Perrin's new hammer - and fitting, since Perrin is belligerently siding with Rand - I can think of some other important uses for that hammer. It need not be this.

And for those thinking that surely, it can't harm anything to break the seals - who is to say that breaking them will not free the Dark One entirely? That was a danger even with the placing of the seals in the first place:

Quote:
Originally Posted by RJ/TP
The World of Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time
CHAPTER: 4 - The Fall Into Shadow

The plan was risky for a number of reasons. All knew that the Dark One had a certain direct effect on the area close around Shayol Ghul - his touch had already transformed it from an idyllic island in a cool sea to a desolate waste - and it was likely that any attempt to channel there would be instantly detected and the raiding party destroyed. Worse, several experts claimed that if the seals were not placed with exact precision, the resultant strain, instead of sealing the Bore, would rip it open, freeing the Dark One entirely.
It is a distinct possibility. Rand seems to acknowledge the possibility that breaking the seals will free the Dark One for a short time, but so far as we know, he still has no plan for what to do beyond that. And that is a scary possibility, indeed.

So, let us not be too quick to judge Egwene in this, or any of the others who are horrified at the idea of Rand breaking the seals. They might just be right.
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Old 11-02-2010, 08:48 AM
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Very well written as always. However, I simply disagree. I think you're digging too deep into it. As RJ/BS has shown us in this book and even TGS, sometimes the most obvious answer is the right one. There are just too many leaps of faith for this to be viable.

Rand should and will Break the Seals to clear the rubble and its the right thing to do.



Of course, Rand should know better than to trust anything not written on steel.
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Old 11-02-2010, 10:40 AM
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Originally Posted by Davian93 View Post
Very well written as always. However, I simply disagree.
Not surprising, seeing as how you are an Egwene-hater.

Quote:
I think you're digging too deep into it. As RJ/BS has shown us in this book and even TGS, sometimes the most obvious answer is the right one. There are just too many leaps of faith for this to be viable.
I think there are more leaps of faith on the side of assuming that Rand should break the seals than there are on the side of assuming it's probably not a good idea.

Quote:
Rand should and will Break the Seals to clear the rubble and its the right thing to do.
What makes you so sure?
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Old 11-02-2010, 11:54 AM
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What makes you so sure?
Mainly because Rand is still so sure even after his epiphany on Dragonmount...and its supported by Fel and Min. You did a great job connecting the dots there for it to be a huge Moridin-led plot but I think its a step too far for even Moridin.

I think RJ is also setting Egwene up for her own fall from arrogance as a know-it-all. Elayne and Nynaeve's lukewarm reception to her idea supports this I think. Both of them have better info on Rand and Egwene simply dismisses it because it doesnt gel with her own worldview. That's a very dangerous way to operate.


Had this been BS's book from the start, I'd put more faith in it as it would end up being very similar to the plot of Mistborn.
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Old 11-02-2010, 12:48 PM
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I think concerns about Rand breaking the seals are only worrisome in theory. I find it almost impossible to believe that he will actually break the seals without having a plan ahead of time even though, as pointed out, he does not have one now. Can anyone honestly picture Rand's POV during a scene where he is getting prepared to break the seals and in his head he's thinking: "Oh well, let's see what happens now."

As for Egwene, whatever her defenders may claim, she really has proved pretty useless, at least as of now, in regard to actually providing Rand with advice for combating the Dark One. All her dialogue with Rand can basically be boiled down to telling him that he is wrong and that she will stop him, and for good measure, that he is being stubborn. As for actually offering up advice about what they should do, Egwene says . . . well, that's the point, she says nothing.

I'm quietly hoping that Egwene bothered to do some research during the month that Rand gave her, after all, the Tower library is supposed to be the most comprehensive in the world. Do I honestly think that she did? No. As far as I can tell, Egwene only thinks in linear fashion. She wants to stop Rand from breaking the seals and that is her immediate goal, anything beyond that, like the world ending, well, that will have to wait I guess.
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Old 11-02-2010, 01:02 PM
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It's funny how you place all the responsibility for figuring it out on Egwene's shoulders. And Rand put it all on Min's...
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Old 11-02-2010, 01:07 PM
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Originally Posted by Terez View Post
It's funny how you place all the responsibility for figuring it out on Egwene's shoulders. And Rand put it all on Min's...
Rand is seemingly hopeless on that account. His best hope at this point is for Min to get lucky or for Lanfear to undergo the biggest redemption in the entire series and help him out. He didn't know what to do 3,000 years ago, so why should he know now?
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Old 11-02-2010, 01:08 PM
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It's funny how you place all the responsibility for figuring it out on Egwene's shoulders. And Rand put it all on Min's...
Rand, like any great leader, knows how to delegate.


Its funny, Rand walks peacefully into Egwene's house, asks for help and to help plan for winning the battle and the first two things that pop into Egwene's mind are:

1. Hmm, should I imprison him as he's too dangerous.

2. I must actively work against him and co-opt his sworn retainers to stop him.


This despite Rand's reference to exactly that being the cause of the Breaking the last time around. How can you support Egwene? She's no better than Elaida at this point. Hell, she's basically doing exactly the same things Elaida did...only accomplishing them a bit better

1. Gather support AGAINST Rand
2. Convincing his sworn retainers


The only real reason she didn't stop Rand is because she realized she couldn't hold him in the Tower. She's just sad at this point.

I also agree on the linear comment about her. Egwene is very single goal oriented. She can't multi-task worth a damn. For basically an entire year, her only goal was "Reunite the Tower at all costs"...during which she completely ignored the greater war on the Shadow and Rand's struggles. Now her mission for the past 28 days has been "Gather support to STOP Rand". I seriously doubt she has done anything other than that to plan. And I suspect Rand was well aware of what she would do when he "asked" for her help. She is simply a pawn at this point. Rand never had any intention (rightly so) of needing her help on planning for after he broke the Seals. That's why he immediately asked for Min's help on that task. He knows Egwene is incapable of answering that question.
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Old 11-02-2010, 01:09 PM
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Originally Posted by alleluia_cone View Post
Rand is seemingly hopeless on that account. His best hope at this point is for Min to get lucky or for Lanfear to undergo the biggest redemption in the entire series and help him out. He didn't know what to do 3,000 years ago, so why should he know now?
Give the guy some credit...the Sealing of the Bore was a success overall. It was just very very costly.
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Old 11-02-2010, 01:17 PM
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Give the guy some credit...the Sealing of the Bore was a success overall. It was just very very costly.
I don't mean it in the sense to be insulting to him, but the fact is, he doesn't have a plan on confronting the Dark One yet. The only person on his side who possibly had that knowledge was Herid Fel and he is dead obviously. The only other person who I'd think would have that type of knowledge is Lanfear. Min is at least trying to follow Herid Fel's work and hopefully stumbles onto something. As for Egwene, I guess she is just there to tell him that he doesn't know what he is doing. Maybe she will randomly dream the answer.
  #11  
Old 11-02-2010, 01:20 PM
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I have been thinking for a while that she might use Tel'aran'rhiod to help seal the prison, if it's possible. Would be a good ultimate use of her skills, and at this point I expect her to have to save Rand from massive failure.
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  #12  
Old 11-02-2010, 01:24 PM
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Originally Posted by Terez View Post
I have been thinking for a while that she might use Tel'aran'rhiod to help seal the prison, if it's possible. Would be a good ultimate use of her skills, and at this point I expect her to have to save Rand from massive failure.
I fully expect her to die doing something stupid.

Wouldn't Perrin be better suited to use TAR to help out Rand...at least he knows what he's doing in the Dream.
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  #13  
Old 11-02-2010, 01:26 PM
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I have been thinking for a while that she might use Tel'aran'rhiod to help seal the prison, if it's possible. Would be a good ultimate use of her skills, and at this point I expect her to have to save Rand from massive failure.
This wouldn't make much sense, otherwise, why was the Dragon even needed? Just to bring the people together? I mean, I would think, if nothing else, the prophecies would be correct in the sense that Rand has to be the one to confront the Dark One.
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Old 11-02-2010, 01:29 PM
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This wouldn't make much sense, otherwise, why was the Dragon even needed?
To shed his blood on the rocks? To die? To bring Padan Fain to Shayol Ghul? Nothing in the prophecies says he will seal the prison.
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  #15  
Old 11-02-2010, 01:37 PM
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To shed his blood on the rocks? To die? To bring Padan Fain to Shayol Ghul? Nothing in the prophecies says he will seal the prison.
I'm not seeing it. ToM has pretty much proved that Jordan tends to go conventional with our expectations.
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Old 11-02-2010, 01:39 PM
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I'm not seeing it. ToM has pretty much proved that Jordan tends to go conventional with our expectations.
"Conventional" in this case is pretty relative.
  #17  
Old 11-02-2010, 01:40 PM
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TOM didn't prove anything other than that certain plotlines in TOM went according to our expectations. Comments like that make me want to dismiss everything you say just on principle.
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Old 11-02-2010, 01:41 PM
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TOM didn't prove anything other than that certain plotlines in TOM went according to our expectations. Comments like that make me want to dismiss everything you say just on principle.
I'm pretty sure the completely unreasoning Egwene-bashing would do that.
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Old 11-02-2010, 01:42 PM
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I'm pretty sure the completely unreasoning Egwene-bashing would do that.
As opposed to completely unreasoned Egwene support?
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  #20  
Old 11-02-2010, 01:47 PM
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My point remains the same: Most of the major plotlines in the story have gone according general expectation. I would be surprised if the story started taking startling turns at this point, although, hey, anything is possible.
 

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