Ch. 51: Against the Shadow

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Ch. 51: Against the Shadow

Post  Eric Gaidin on Thu Jun 25, 2009 4:37 pm

So, Balthamel is destroyed by the Green Man--fantastic scene. I was hoping for a little more from one of the Forsaken, but they were just let out (or escaped) from their prison so I can understand how he was killed so quickly. Aginor makes reference to their being an entire race of the Green Men, which is another great nod to a fabled past by RJ.

It's also interesting to learn that the Eye of the World is a pool of the pure essence of saidin (ch. 50). The Aes Sedai who created it--both male and female--knew they were going to die when it was created. This is the tie-in to the weird cords that Rand sees in ch. 51. Before everyone scatters and runs from the Forsaken, the Forsaken both glance to the entrance to the tunnel that leads down to the Eye. Therefore, when Aginor confronts Rand on the cliff and Rand notices the pure, silver cord of light running from Aginor, it must be extending back to the Eye. So, Aginor took out Moiraine and then quickly reached the Eye and siphoned off power. This is all evidenced by Aginor's retro-aging and Ba'alzamon's (Ishamael's) black cord, which must be black due to the taint I'm assuming? Rand steals a bit of the cord from Aginor and begins to siphon it off from him. Aginor's reply is "No, it's mine" so therefore I believe that's further evidence for the cord to be linked with the Eye.

What's odd, however, is Ba'alzamon's black cord. Ba'alzamon is not drawing from the Eye yet Rand does not see a cord running from any other Forsaken in the succeeding novels. Why can he see this one? Rand takes out Ba'alzamon pretty plainly here, so is there any explanation in the successive books as to why Ishamael (Ba'alzamon) was able to survive?

One's got to be impressed with Rand's Travel to the battle in Tarwin's Gap. I'm assuming this is the first use of Traveling in the storyline, even if RJ didn't know what to call it yet.
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Re: Ch. 51: Against the Shadow

Post  GreatGamsby on Wed Jul 01, 2009 7:40 am

When Rand battled Ishmael at the end, I always assumed it was in Tel'aran'rhiod (world of shadows / dreamworld).

Similar to how he battled Rhavin in book 5 and Ishmael again at the end of book 3.

I never took those cords in book 1 to be ties back to the dark one, just the saidin. I thought he could only see them in alternate planes (ie following Asmodean while skimming to Rhiodean).

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Re: Ch. 51: Against the Shadow

Post  Eric Gaidin on Wed Jul 01, 2009 8:56 am

I have to strongly disagree here. Rand saw Aginor's silver/white cord while in the waking world--no alternate realities there. Aginor must have been siphoning off power from the Eye of the World, which was in turn rejuvenating him. Aginor's cord color and Ba'alzamon's are completely different. My take on that fact is this: Aginor was drawing power from the Eye of the World, which Moiraine described as being the essence of saidin. Therefore, the energy coming from the Eye would be pure, i.e. taintless. However, Ba'alzamon's (Ishamael's )cord was black. This must be due to the fact that saidin is tainted. Now, if I remember correctly, the Dark One protects the male Forsaken from the effects of the taint, but that doesn't mean the taint isn't there. So, Ba'alzamon's cord and Aginor's cords are different because of the different sources of saidin.

Now the question becomes whether or not Rand was dreaming when he encountered Ba'alzamon. Weird time to be falling asleep, just after you battle the forsaken (Aginor), wouldn't you say? I don't know, I think I'd need a cool down period; let my heart stop going a mile a minute.
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Re: Ch. 51: Against the Shadow

Post  GreatGamsby on Wed Jul 01, 2009 8:19 pm

Sorry I didn't clarify enough. Yes Aginor's cord was definitely the pure Saidin. I do agree now though that it is probably tainted saidin that he sees from Ishmael and Asmodean.

You don't have to be dreaming to enter Tel'aran'rhiod. You can enter it physically as Rand did in books 3 and 5 and probably at the end of book 1. If you remember book 5, Moggie was pleading with Nyneave not to intervene with Rand and Rhavin because they were there physically and because of that had much more power.

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Re: Ch. 51: Against the Shadow

Post  Eric Gaidin on Wed Jul 01, 2009 11:23 pm

Wow, I completely forgot that one could enter Tel'aran'rhiod physically; though I don't understand how or why. I'm guessing that's just the fantasy aspect there. Does Jordan give any variation in setting description or other written clue to help readers pick up on the shift from the real world to the dream world specifically?

At the end of ch. 51 of EotW, Rand is transported by saidin to Tarwin's Gap. We know he was physically there due to the fact that the Shienaran warriors on the field of battle witnessed a man who drestroyed half of the Trollocs and Fades. So, he hadn't entered Tel'aran'rhiod at that point. Then, something physical does happen while he's still in Tarwin's Gap: "The haze surrounding him parted, leaving a dome of clear, clean air ten spans high, walled by billowing smoke and dust. Steps rose before him, each standing alone and unsupported, stretching up in the murk that obscured the sun. [...] Dull anger driving his feet, he mounted the first steps" (680).

Rand then steps into the chamber where he torches Ba'alzamon (Ishy). I remember some other weave that has to do with the One Power that conjured stairs which zoom people from one place to another. (See, this is why I'm doing a re-read, my memory's garbage). However, Ba'alzamon has been appearing to Mat, Perrin, and Rand in their dreams. So maybe this is a physical entrance into Tel'aran'rhiod.

Does anyone out there remember floating steps being conjured by the One Power (other than this)? Or has saidin tainted my mind and driven me mad?
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Surprise stairs

Post  StephEN on Thu Aug 06, 2009 7:38 pm

So this whole end actually confused me and I did a lot of rereading on the whole being transported from one place to another. I think it may just be one of those situations in which we have to simply accept the things that happen. Why can't Rand get all hazy and all of a sudden have stairs form in front of him to send him on his way to his first epic battle against evil. We're not really meant to understand Saiden or else we'd all be wielding it, eh? And I do think he must have physically been there as he was physically in Tarwin's Gap. Why would the physical state of it change from one to the other. His appearing at the Gap is as unthinkable as appearing elsewhere to him at this point.

But if you have more information on it, please, feel free to explain it more to me. It was all so mind boggling. O.o

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Re: Ch. 51: Against the Shadow

Post  Eric Gaidin on Fri Aug 07, 2009 8:55 am

Great to see you Steph!

The reason we were questioning what Rand was actually doing at the end of the novel is because Robert Jordan is very specific when describing the effects of using the One Power, be it saidin (the male half) or saidar (the female half). In literary terms, Jordan's writing is not ambiguous or general. His system of "magic" is very specific and descript, i.e. specific descriptions refer to specific abilities with the One Power. So, as you will see in the future (and this is the most minor of spoilers), a thin white beam of light that springs forth from a channeler's hand is not a random description. It's a very specific effect called balefire. Jordan does not describe bright lights and a poof sound to create just any effect which would prevent the reader from determing the effect until they saw the result. Jordan is an amazing writer when it comes to consistency and description. So, what we were questioning above was, what was it that Rand did to make the stairs appear? Most of us on these boards have read the whole series and are familiar with the descriptions of the use of the One Power, but that one troubled me.

I hope I just didn't make things more confusing.
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Thanks.

Post  StephEN on Fri Aug 07, 2009 5:27 pm

I believe that helped in my understanding. So now I'm gonna have to keep an eye out for things like this in the future. Ohh I'm so excited to keep reading and see how intricate it all becomes! Smile

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