The Shadow Rising Read Along Part V

JordanShadowRisingBannerWelcome back everyone. This week we covered chapters 24-30 and Sue over at Coffee, Cookies, & Chili Peppers will be hosting. So make sure to swing by her place to see what everyone else thought. I am suffering from a summer cold, so if some of my responses seem muddled, out in left field, or completely irrelevant to the question, just smile and pat me on the head as you head off to CCCP for serious discussion.

Spoilers lurk behind every comma, question mark, and exclamation. Avert your eyes now if you have concerns.

1. What is it with Mat and doorway ter’angreals? These foxy people certainly seem very similar to the snake people, but with subtle differences. Any ideas about why they decided to hang Mat and what his new medallion does?

Mat’s an idiot.

OK, that was the short answer. Mat has a serious impulse control problem. Lucky for him, his friends, associates, and luck usually pull him through. I think in this case he spoke, questioned, and then demanded without thinking about the consequences. I believe the answers he received (verbal and the medallion) were in trade for his life, or his essence, or his utter terror at being hanged. These foxy/snakey beings seem to crave human emotions/fears.

I don’t know what the medallion portends for Mat, but I expect it is wrapped up with his ta’veren status and the answers he received from the first doorway he nearly broke.

2. Now that we have been into Rhuidean, were you surprised by the city within the mists or did you expect something different? What do you think has happened to the Jenn Aiel?

I was surprised. I was expecting practicality, not big grand palace like buildings left and right.

I’m guessing that after Lews Therin broke the world, there was a prophecy of the next Dragon Reborn (Rand) and that prophecy pointed to a child of the Jenn Aiel. The Aes Sedai of that time put a huge burden on the Jenn Aiel of nonviolence and 0 men allowed to channel. I think over time this agreement (coerced or otherwise) was forgotten by everyone (nearly everyone?). Obviously the bitch called Prophecy will not be denied.

3. The history of the Aiel is revealed to be very complex. Were you surprised to discover that they were originally a people sworn to non-violence and that the Traveling People were actually an offshoot from the original Aiel?

Yes, this did surprise me, but it made some sense, giving a kind of balance to the story as we know it so far. I have to wonder now if the Aiel we know today have the song the Traveling People are hunting for. I’m looking forward to seeing what Robert Jordan does with this complexity.

4. Could you have stood aside, like the Jenn Aiel did, and allowed your friends and family to be murdered or attacked without raising a hand in violence? What do you think of those Aiel who broke their vow of non-violence?

Simply, no. By doing nothing to stop violence, you enable it, and hence, you bear some of the responsibility and guilt. Those Aiel who broke their vow of non-violence did it for the right reasons under very understandable circumstances. Being banished from their people was an act of emotional violence on the part of those who did the banishing. That can be just as wrong as physical violence.

5. Perrin encounters a strange woman, who seems to know a great deal about the Wolf Dream and the two races beyond the doorways, the Aelfinn and the Eelfinn. She seems familiar: is she someone that we have already met, as she suggests? What do you think about the ability to reach their dimension directly from tel’aran’rhiod?

I believe this to be Lanfear/Selene. She crops up more often than I thought she would, but she is turning into a very interesting ‘bad guy’. Tel’aran’rhiod is simply a dangerous place for untrained, unguided folks to be mucking about in. I am surprised that Perrin and Egwene have not been seriously damaged yet.

6. Perrin’s homecoming is far from happy. Were you surprised by what he discovered? Also, did Faile react in the way you expected? Were the people in the old cottage who you expected?

Wow! This section in particular I was not expecting. I mean, up til now, Robert Jordan had not killed off too many people, other than trollocs and myrrdraal. So to hear of the slaughter of Perrin’s family brought a tear to my eye. As sad as this is, I think it changes the game for Perrin. Those he cares the most about are already gone, so letting himself be hanged won’t gain his folks anything.

I am so glad that Faile dropped the bitchiness. It was getting tiring listening to her antics and wanting to slap her. But in that moment, when Perrin learns the fate of his family, she couldn’t have done better. For that one act, she is redeemed and I am once again hoping these two become a real couple.

I wasn’t expecting Warders, but I sure am glad to see some professional warriors on site. The Whitecloaks, trollocs, and especially Padan Faine are going to be in for some major hurt.

Other Tidbits:

So, Faile slapped Perrin, not once, but twice, and was going for a thrice when Perrin did….what? Oh! I wish Jordan would tell us. Apparently it was embarrassing. I love the lady Aiels’s response of staying out of it because Faile picked the fight. Damn straight!

I really liked how Jordan told bits of the Aiel history through Rand’s experience of living these memories of folks who witnessed significant events.

Once again, another hair-raising escape from the ways – trollocs and that crazy deadly wind. Somehow, I never get tired of exploring, or rather racing through the ways as quietly and swiftly as possible.

Mistress Alvere took it in stride having Aiel walk into her inn….followed shortly by an ogier. She’s made of stern stuff.

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19 thoughts on “The Shadow Rising Read Along Part V

  1. Eivind Fonn says:

    Oh boy, I’ve been looking forward to this part of a while. Excuse me while I type for a bit. :D

    1. Well, yeah, he’s an idiot, but as you might have suspected, going through that doorway was precisely the reason why he had to go to Rhuidean in the first place. In one way or another, those things he was given will probably turn out to be very important. Now, here, it’s critical to go through the demands he made and their responses very literally.

    (a) “I would want those holes (in his memory) filled …”
    (b) “I want a way to be free of Aes Sedai and the Power”
    (c) “I want to be away from you and back to Rhuidean”

    And they gave him two things: a foxhead medallion and a kind of spear, and we also know that he did go back to Rhuidean as requested. We haven’t been inside his head since, so we don’t know about his memory. One might imagine that either the medallion or the spear is some kind of freedom from Aes Sedai, but in what way is hard to say.

    By the way, there’s more to this exchange than is apparent. This was dropped on the fans like a bag of bricks only in book 13 and nobody saw that one coming, I think.

    2. I don’t know what I expected the first time, really. It must have been evident to the Jenn for a good while that they would not survive, and so the construction of a massive city in the middle of a desert valley strikes me as a bit ambitious. But then again, they didn’t seem like the people to mind realism very much. I don’t think anything in particular happened to them. They just died out in unceremonial fashion. This is never confirmed though, just my impression.

    3. Yeah, I didn’t see this coming. But wow… what a couple of chapters those were. Some of the most emotional things I’ve ever read. Adan in particular is such an immensely tragic figure. I can’t agree with his principles, but I have to admire his sticking to them through all the misery he saw.

    Also, this answers so many questions about the Aiel. We saw where their veils came from, the first Maiden of the Spear, we saw why they don’t use swords, we saw why they have such a love/hate relationship with the Traveling People, and we even saw why they gifted the Cairhienin a cutting of the Avendesora. (You might have missed this, but the second vision we saw, where the Aiel were drawing water from someone’s well – the city they were talking about building is what eventually became Cairhien, and the gift was the Aiel people’s thanks for the kindness shown to them.)

    I also very much loved the glimpses we got of the Age of Legends. Together with the prologue to book one and a short story called The Strike at Shayol Ghul, this is all we have from that time. Especially the view of the bore being drilled into the Dark One’s prison was interesting. Not sure if you caught this either, but the bore was drilled by Mierin Eronaile Sedai and Beidomon Sedai. Mierin later took up the name Lanfear. (Not sure if this has been given in the text yet, but it said that Charn claimed to have served Lanfear.)

    Additionally, it’s worth noting their initial motivation for drilling the bore… namely, to access a separate source of power from the OP. This will be significant later.

    4. I don’t think I could have, really. The Aiel today are an interesting people. They broke their vow (well, not them specifically, but their ancestors), and for this they have a sort of collective toh (to use their terminology) to the Aes Sedai. To meet this toh, they will have to fight for the Dragon in the Last Battle. Then again, having once broken their promise, they certainly made the best of it. I doubt a population of desert-dwelling pacifists would have been much use to Rand.

    5. Ah, well… her description matches a certain someone we have seen before. If it’s Lanfear, she’s using a new disguise we haven’t seen before. I believe we’ll see her again, soon, though… so I’m sure we’ll get back to her identity later.

    I’m not sure I understand the last part of this question, however. The Tower of Ghenjei exists also in the real world, not just in T’A’R (in fact, we saw it in the distance in book one). I’m not aware of any explicit connection between T’A’R and the “Finnland”.

    6. Again, I can’t remember if I were surprised or not. My initial expectations from six years back are lost in time. Faile at least redeemed herself and Marin al’Vere is a total badass.

    As for the Aes Sedai, now who are they? We’ve only met their warders so far, and I can’t remember if Ihvon and Tomas have been named so far in the story. But in any case, we’ll meet their Aes Sedai first thing next week, so we won’t have to go curious for long.

    Other. I believe Perrin simply spanked her. I was surprised to notice that it wasn’t made explicit in the text, because that’s how I rememeber it.

    Get well soon, Susan! For some reason I think of farm people as incomprehensibly healthy folk…

    • Eivind Fonn says:

      I forgot a couple of points, but if I may, I’ll just quote Leigh Butler, because I think she puts it well.

      What you’ve got here, kids, is a two-chapter mosaic puzzle box that is only nominally a history of the Aiel people, and is in actuality both a retelling of the Fall (yes, that Fall), and an expression of the raison d’etre of the entire series (as signified by the use of the serpent and wheel icons for both chapters, rather than the Aiel or Dragon icon). Reading it is like playing a winning game of Tetris, where the pieces all twist and fall and slot in among each other exactly right, and then you get the long piece and blammo, the whole thing melds together and disappears and you get 5,000 points.

      The other most prevalent theme is the emphasis on the lack of balance; how the tainting of saidin and the disruption of the harmony between the male and female halves of the One Power represented both symbolically and literally the fracturing of the entire world. One thing I hadn’t really thought about in previous re-reads but which struck me powerfully now is how, in the scene with Jonai and Solinda Sedai in the Hall of the Servants, it is obvious that “Jaric and Heindar”, the two mad male Aes Sedai coming to destroy Paaren Disen, were men that Solinda and the other Aes Sedai knew personally; they were colleagues, possibly friends, and now they were insane and destroying the world.

      • nrlymrtl says:

        Yet more stuff to ponder. I can see how folks want to reread this series as it must look quite different from the first time read through to a read the entire series and now doing a reread. I am sure there are tons of little pieces I missing, but that just means I will enjoy them when I reread the books again in 5-10 years.

      • suecccp says:

        Wow! That is all a bit more profound than I tend to get with my reading, but it makes sense because the Aiel were unbalanced by being too passive. Of course, they have probably become too aggressive now . . .

    • Liesel Hill says:

      Excellent point here. Your comment about desert-dwelling pacifists made me smile. They’re definitely more useful as the warrior society they developed into than as they were. I also appreciated your second set of comments. I never really thought about this being a type of the Fall, but I think you’re totally right. I also really love the Age of Legends stuff. So beautiful and tragic and with so much truth to it. How terrible to to witness your society slide into darkness so fast that it was observable, and know you couldn’t stop it. If it had been me, I think I’d be walking around crying constantly. It’s cool to see capable people holding it together and planning for the future, even as they know their doom is at hand.

    • nrlymrtl says:

      Perhaps the medallion will make him invisible to Aes Sedai tracking methods and the spear will bring his memories, all his memories, like from past lives and all, back. He’s going to be pissed.

      I was totally off about who Perrin was chatting up in T’A’R. Not Lanfear, but Birgitte. Well, while I expect Birgitte is just as deadly, I also expect she isn’t as malevolent as Lanfear.

      Haha! Faile totally deserves a spanking for repeatedly slapping Perrin.

      Thanks for the well wishes. Farm folk stay healthy as long as they can stay on the farm. It’s only when I leave to socialize with other humans that I run the risk of illness.

    • suecccp says:

      1. I love it when an author pulls stuff from ancient history in a series to reveal more subtext and significance than we could ever have imagined. I recently re-read A Game of Thrones and was struck by that very thing, so i suspect that I will need to re-read this series once we’ve finally got all the way to the end.

      I think that means I will be reading these books for the next 5 years or so! :D

      2. Rhuidean strikes me a little like Las Vegas: a totally bizarre city in the middle of nowhere. It would seem that it needed the Aes Sedai to make it habitable, as we saw with Rand drawing water into one of the fountains, just as Vegas relies on electricity to keep it alive.

      3. There was so much packed into this section that it was almost mind-blowing. I hadn’t realized that we were seeing the bore being drilled, although it was obviously the cause of a huge disaster.

      Trust Lanfear to destroy the world trying to access more power!

      4. Yep, it is difficult to see how the Jenn Aiel would be of any use in the Last Battle.

      Perrin spanking Faile seems so obvious from the subtext that I can understand why you would be surprised at how it is only described in hints. I love it when an author uses your own imagination to write some their story for them! :D

      • nrlymrtl says:

        My man and I are reading A Song of Fire & Ice series now and I also love the ‘old history’ feel to it.

        Yeah, that bore threw me. The Wheel of Time equivalent of a major environmental disaster.

        I was definitely using my imagination on the scene where Perrin reacted to Faile’s slaps. Let me count the ways to embarrass Faile.

  2. lynnsbooks says:

    Wow, this seems like a mammoth undertaking! Exactly how many books are there in this series – or, more to the point, how many pages!
    Lynn :D

    • nrlymrtl says:

      Yeah, my man thinks we’re crazy too. We’re on Book 4. There are 14 books plus or minus the prequel. The books range from 600-1100 pages (except for the prequel, which is shorter). And we are doing ~100 pages a week. We sometimes take a week off in between books. Sometimes not.

    • suecccp says:

      You could catch up really easily: we’re only on book 4!

      You know you want to join us . . . :D

      • lynnsbooks says:

        Haha, I actually do want to join you but there’s no way I’m catching up four books – what’s that about 3000 pages already! I should have got off my lazy butt and joined up at the start. Silly mare!
        Lynn :D

  3. Liesel Hill says:

    I really like the way you put it about emotional violence. I never thought of it quite in those terms before. I think people who are so adamantly non-violent sometimes don’t realize the emotional damage they do. It’s hypocritical, but they truly don’t realize it. I also think you’re right about this being a game changer for Perrin. Before, he was resigned about going to his death. Hopefully this will piss him off and perk him up enough to want justice for his slain family and safety for his people. Guess we’ll know soon. :D

    • nrlymrtl says:

      Thanks for the comment on the nonviolence and emotional violence. I don’t agree with shunning as that damages people on both sides just as deeply or more so than having a few slaps or punches to get the issue out the way.

      Yes, I expect Perrin won’t let Padan Faine’s transgressions pass quietly and I expect the Whitecloaks to stick their necks in their own noose by insisting on their way or the highway.

      • suecccp says:

        Although I agree with most of what you are saying about emotional violence, I have to disagree about shunning in some cases.

        I have had to use it as the only way to remove a couple of toxic people from my life because they were too narcissistic to take notice of more subtle behavior. Ideally I would find another way to handle the situation, but I think the State of Maine frowns upon setting people on fire! :D

        • nrlymrtl says:

          Hehe. Yes, shunning a few individuals from your personal life is better than setting them on fire. I trust your judgement in this.

          In the book, it is an entire culture shunning a chunk of people out of their lives forever. Harsh.

  4. suecccp says:

    1. “Mat’s an idiot.” LOL Yes, he totally is! :D

    2. The city does seem completely out of place stuck in the middle of the Waste and all alone as it is: you can understand why people would disregard the reports by that man that had seen it.

    3. I understand what you mean about it being a surprise, but not. I love the way that we have cultures warped and twisted by so much time that they are totally different from how they begun. It is easy to see how they could change gradually by tiny steps, but this does add to the feeling of great age and the passage of time. Now that we know about the Aiel singing with the Ogier, I wonder if the Song will be found in a Stedding or in Ogier writings.

    5. I agree with you that Perrin and Egwene are lucky to still be intact at this point.

    6. I think the lack of significant deaths up until this point actually make these ones so much more shocking. It also gives Perrin the final kick in the pants to make him seize his destiny: he now has a real reason to fight and no way back.

    I think he gave her a good spanking . . . there was a comment about her sitting awkwardly but refusing to walk . . . :D

    I really enjoyed that little section in the inn because I thought both Al’veres showed great courage and resourcefulness. Egwene would be so proud!

  5. nrlymrtl says:

    I am definitely very interested in the history of the Ogier now. And I wonder if they have writings from that time, or if their history can only be found in weird time bubbles like this one.

    Yes, totally agree about the lack of significant deaths up to this point and now Perrin losing his family makes it that much more poignant.

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