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Join me as I focus a leadership lens on fantasy books and series. Current Series: The Wheel of Time, by Robert Jordan (and Brandon Sanderson) Contact me: s10473@protonmail.com

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The Shadow Rising - Chapter 6 [#124]

Lead, Follow, Or Get Out Of The Way

    "War will come whether Rand begins it or not," [Elayne] said reluctantly.  Egwene stepped back a pace, staring at her in disbelief no sharper than that on Nynaeve's face; the incredulity faded from both women as she continued.  "The Forsaken will not stand idly and wait.  Sammael cannot be the only one to have seized a nation's reins, just the lone one we know.  They will come after Rand eventually, in their own persons perhaps, but certainly with whatever armies they command.  And the nations that are free of the Forsaken?  How many will cry glory to the Dragon banner and follow him to Tarmon Gai'don, and how many will convince themselves the fall of the Stone is a lie and Rand only another false Dragon who must be put down, a false Dragon perhaps strong enough to threaten them if they do not move against him first?  One way or another, war will come."  She cut off sharply.  There was more to it, but she could not, would not tell them that part.

    Moiraine was not so reticent.  "Very good," she said, nodding, "yet incomplete."  The look she gave Elayne said she knew Elayne had left out what she had on purpose.  Hands folded calmly at her waist, she addressed Nynaeve and Egwene.  "Nothing makes this war better, or cleaner.  Except that it will cement the Tairens to him, and the Illianers will end up following him just as the Tairens do now.  How could they not, once the Dragon banner flies over Illian?  Just the news of his victory might decide the wars in Tarabon and Arad Doman in his favor; there are wars ended for you."

    "In one stroke he will make himself so strong in terms of men and swords that only a coalition of every remaining nation from here to the Blight can defeat him, and with the same blow he shows the Forsaken that he is not a plump partridge on a limb for the netting.  That will make them wary, and buy him time to learn to use his strength.  He must move first, be the hammer, not the nail."

Elayne and Moiraine, The Shadow Rising, p. 92 - 93

    Often, I have mentioned action giving a greater advantage than inaction.  Moiraine and Elayne point out the possible end states for both.  Although, a bit polarized, perhaps out of bias, there is a distinct advantage to Rand taking the initiative.  Inaction, on the other hand, invites all Rand's enemies to take larger actions against him.  Embedded in this choice is the requirement to also choose an option that isn't appealing; but are necessary to succeed and survive.  As I've stated before, taking an action forces reactions from everyone else.  It removes their choices and their control of the situation.  For Moiraine and Elayne, this is all very academic - textbook leadership from those who have had the benefit of growing up around rulers.  Rand, on the other hand, prefers to take actions that are unpredictable to friend and foe alike.  No doubt the Forsaken expect Rand to try and rally armies to him, so they place themselves in position to best counter him and that particular threat.  Rand's penchant for unpredictability brings it's own flavor of initiative - on a much smaller scale.  He's still very much focused on the tactical picture - that's where he's been living.  All his battles with the Dark One so far have been personal in nature.  There have been armies engaged, but on the outskirts.  Rand has not actually had to lead an army into battle; he has minimal appreciation and experience for the larger, strategic picture.  While he recognizes that he is the Dragon Reborn, it's not quite sunk in that he is the Dragon Reborn.


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