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I've just finished reading A Crown of Swords, the 7th book in the Wheel of Time series.

In this book and the previous one, Lord of Chaos, Sammael talks and acts as if he has a truce with Rand Al'Thor. He uses this "fact" to trick Graendel into revealing Masaana's location. His actions in the 7th book make it appear, to me, that he actually believes that this is true.

He certainly doesn't seem very prepared when Rand shows up in Illian, and his death is underwhelming, at best.

We did see the scene where his messenger, Andris, offers Rand a truce, in Lord of Chaos, but it clearly fails. Despite this, the tells Graendal that he knows he has a truce because of how that messenger was received.

Did Sammael actually believe he had a truce with Rand, or was he bluffing? If he did, why?

  • he had the palace booby trapped, as well as luring rand out into second trap. Rand just surprised him a little bit as well, by having a calvery charge gatewayed into the center of town by passing the war being faught on the border of illian and tear which samuel thought was the main front – Himarm Mar 31 '17 at 17:16
  • @Himarm Heading to Shadar Logoth seemed like a last-ditch panic move as much as anything. Although now that I think about it, I'm not sure how or why the Trollocs were there so quickly. – DCShannon Mar 31 '17 at 17:24
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    i BELIEVE(cant quite remember) that graendel was supposed to help him but she gtfo'd immediately, or at least he was hoping she would. – Himarm Mar 31 '17 at 17:25
  • It was obvious that Rand was targetting Sammael at this point, since his crew had just offed the other two Forsaken that had taken up residence in a major city (Be'lal in Tear and Rhavin in Caemlyn) and was sending his armies to Illian. Sammael was just worried that fighting Rand inside the city would destroy it, and it was his city. So he fled to somewhere more remote. – KutuluMike Mar 31 '17 at 19:49
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Unfortunately, it's not clear whether Sammael believe he had a truce or not. There is evidence to support both sides. I think, however, that the general consensus is that he was bluffing.

The Setup

Sammael sent a messenger to Rand, asking him for a truce. The terms of the truce basically keep Sammael confined to the southwestern part of the continent (The Illian / Altara region). He also agrees not to help any other Forsaken Rand might be going after. Rand, of course, refuses the truce, and the messenger dies a horrible, bloody death.

It turns out that Sammael didn't expect the messenger to actually return. Rather, he's set a weave on the poor guy that will cause him to die as soon as Rand gives his answer. The manner of his death will tell Sammael how Rand responded.

Later, Sammael claims (to Graendel) that Rand agreed, and that he has a truce, and thus free run of the southwest.

Option 1: He's Bluffing

The most obvious answer is that he's bluffing. It seems unlikely that he would have left room for misinterpretation in his weave on the messenger. So he should have known what Rand's answer was, and is just lying.

The point of lying here would be to make Graendel second-guess herself, and any plans she might have to attack Sammael. Remember, at this point, Moridin was not around yet, and the Forsaken were competing amongst themselves to be named Nae'blis. In addition to each of them trying to be the one that received that honor, they were also competing to curry favor with anyone who might win instead. Having brought Rand under control would be a huge feather in Sammael's cap, and almost certainly get him named Nae'blis. Knowing that, Graendel would be more likely to cooperate with him and avoid stabbing him in the back.

Beyond that, there was an implied threat to Graendel if Sammael is telling the truth: he had vowed not to help the others if Rand came after them. The unspoken threat here is that Sammael would "accidentally" let slip to Rand's people how to find Graendel, so he could get her out of the way. Staying on his good side would also serve to keep herself safe in the process.

One final benefit of tricking Graendel is that, if he makes her sufficiently paranoid, she might try to off Rand herself. One thing all of the Forsaken are seriously worried about is that, this time around, Rand will join the Dark One and be named Nae'Blis himself. This is what the Dark One wants more than anything else -- to coopt the Dragon to his side. By telling Graendel that Rand has already agreed to cooperate with one of the Forsaken, there's the chance she might panic and kill Rand herself, thus removing Rand and herself from contention for Nae'Blis.

Besides making the most sense, it also fits with Sammael's behavior later in that scene, after Graendel leaves. As long as she's there, he's putting on a very confident front. Graendel is completely convinced that he's telling the truth. But as soon as she leaves, we switch perspectives to his inner monologues, and he seems much more smug about "handling Graendel" than he does about successfully making a truce. The implication is that his whole story was a lie, and he's smug that Graendel bought it.

(Unlikely) Option Two: He Was Set Up

There is an alternative explanation: Sammael actually does think he has a truce. Again, if we assume he's not an idiot, it's unlikely that he would make that mistake on his own. But that doesn't mean he wasn't set up by another male channeler somewhere along the way. It's a stretch, but not impossible that someone tampered with the weave, or layered a second one on top. It would require someone who could not only channel, but also somehow be aware of Sammael's messenger trick, but there's plenty of chances for another Forsaken to intercept the messenger.

There's some very thin evidence in this direction. First, Graendel seems pretty convinced that Sammael isn't capable of that kind of deception. It's the main reason she believes him in the first place. Also, later on Sammael learns that Mat is in Ebou Dar, he feels "betrayed". Ebou Dar is the capital of Altara, one of the areas Sammael claimed for himself in his proposed truce. It's possible that his betrayal is that Rand sent Mat into his territory, in violation of their truce.

Of course, there are plenty of other ways to interpret that "betrayed" feeling, so it's not very compelling evidence. But we also don't get enough information to rule it out. Fairly shortly, Moridin arrives and is named Nae'Blis and all the in-fighting among Forsaken comes to an end, and the whole thing is dropped.

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    +1, that makes sense. I felt like there were multiple examples of behavior that implied he thought he had a truce, but I'm not about to go back through the book to find them. That "betrayal" is a good example. Option One does seem more likely though. I may accept this in a day or two. – DCShannon Mar 31 '17 at 19:47
  • Sammael is a strategy guy who likes to work with others and get them to do his dirty work. First it was Be'lal and Rhavin; then it was Sevanna and the Shaido, then Graendel. Its possible that some of these examples where Sammael acts surprised or betrayed are because one of those people gave him false information or backstabbed him, but it's not always made clear. – KutuluMike Mar 31 '17 at 19:54
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    @KutuluMike It's also possible that Sammael wasn't muttering about feeling betrayed, but rather was muttering about the Betrayer of Hope himself, and Carridin simply misheard him. As Sammael mentions a few paragraphs later, many of Ishamael's orders continue to be carried out, and for all Sammael knows some of those orders likely concern actions Darkfriends should take towards Matt. – David H Apr 1 '17 at 1:06
  • I'm on board with KutuluMike's answer, too, and if I could add anything, I'd say Sammael's overall dismissal of Rand in the scene with, and directly after, his meeting with Graendel plays a part. He's convinced himself Rand is NOT Lews Therin. He was afraid of Lews Therin, he's not of Rand the Sheepherder. He chalks up the other Forsaken's death at Rand's hands as bumbling luck, or that that Forsaken had overextended his hand and been careless. He thinks Rand's tenuous hold of the nations under him will make him reluctant to take him on anyway. – Kbrownsky Aug 19 '17 at 4:34

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