In Robert Jordan's epic fantasy series The Wheel of Time, "blood and ashes!" is a common profanity. It's something one says to indicate strong anger, frustration, distress, etc. If it were transplanted to modern Western culture, you could say "blood and ashes!" on late-night television, or to your friends, without creating much of a stir. But you wouldn't say it around your mother, or loudly in the middle of the street. It's on a level with "crap!" The origins of the term are unclear, but it's probably related to "burn me!" which is a similar but less offensive expression from the same universe. One possible source for this expression is the near-universal fear people in the Wheel of Time have of The Dark One, who is analogous to the Devil except that he has been known to directly and incontrovertibly intervene in human affairs.

I have chosen to node this because after a week of doing almost nothing but reading these entertaining novels, I find myself appropriating the language. And I suspect I'm not the only one. I'm probably also not the only one making comparisons to crack.

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