The Fires of Heaven Read Along Part IX

JordanFiresOfHeavenBannerWelcome all to the ninth week of read along goodness of The Fires of Heaven. This week, we covered chapters 50-53. Make sure to check out my cohorts, Eivind’s answers will be below, and then Sue from Coffee, Cookies, and Chili Peppers, and Liesel from Musings on Fantasia!

We’ve got spoilers unclothed and running free below!

1) How long do you think Birgitte will be able to keep her identity mostly secret? What do you think the Salidar Aes Sedai would do with Birgitte if they knew?

Considering the warm reaction Nynaeve and Elayne have received from the Salidar aes sedai, I would not want them to find out about Birgitte. Even though Siuan brought dire tidings, these ladies haven’t really woken up to the fact that there are superior forces out there and also tasks that must be accomplished in order to preserve some part of the world in the coming tide of evil. It’s like the Salidar aes sedai haven’t read the back of the book jacket at all!

As to Birgitte keeping her ID secret…..The longer she is in Salidar, the greater the chance is. However, being bonded to Elayne means that she can’t simply pack a few supplies and hike away. I am hoping that the Wheel will send Nynaeve and Elayne off on more tasks soon and Birgitte will be safe from the prying microscope known as the aes sedai for a while longer. However, there are still plenty of other people who would be fascinated by her true ID, and exceptional abilities. I think Thom and Jullin will have to be brought into this secret sooner or later too, if they haven’t already figured it out.

2) What good, if any, will come out of Siuan’s and Nynaeve’s agreement? Is Nynaeve smoking leaf and reaching for the stars?

Well since these two ladies seem highly incompatible, perhaps Nynaeve will get mad enough to heal a stilling. But will she get the results she wants? Not all cures take you back to your original state. How many folks have completely different hair, or no hair, after cancer treatments? Still, Nynaeve is reaching for the stars on this one. I think part of it is that she is so use to her stubborn manner being unwilling to except another outcome, that she is relying on it still to carry her through.

I can’t see Nynaeve being a particularly good teacher (having a deep set lack of impatience) and I also have equal difficulty seeing Siuan being a good student (inability to follow directions). While these attempts will most assuredly be entertaining for me as the reader, I am sure they will be a huge source of irritation for both ladies! Will Siuan end up walking Tel’aran’rhiod? Perhaps. Will she much about an end up getting someone killed? Distinct possibility.

3) Elayne and Min had a little heart to heart. How do you think this will affect their relationship in the future?

Actually, I felt that Elayne was a little dismissive of Min, caught herself doing it, and curbed it. Still, I can still see her thinking, ‘Why would Rand want plain (in every way) MIn when he has all my charms on offer?’ Hopefully Elayne will continue to keep an open mind and let Rand figure out his own mind about which woman, and how many, he wants to share himself with.

Still, whatever Rand decides, no matter how gentlemanly he acts, I expect there will eventually be some competition between these two ladies. I am still a suspicious of Min’s love for Rand, considering how little time she has spent with him. It could be a super intense crush under stressful times.

4) What do you think of Rand’s latest ways of dealing with the never-ending parade of court ladies?

Wow! Rand, you have come a long way from the sheepherder of Two Rivers and are infinitely more interesting. Part of me cheered his scaring the ladies and part of me was reluctant to cheer openly because it would be impolite. But I did it anyway. He didn’t lie; he just pointed out that he is the bogeyman of all horror stories, and do they really, really want to spend time with such a man? Let alone bed him? Have his children? Have their fate tied to his? Yep, Rand, you cut to the heart of the matter in a few sentences….and then added creepy chuckling. Muuuwaaahahah!

Here's Jake, our Mammoth Donkey.
Here’s Jake, our Mammoth Donkey.

5) Rand received two interesting letters from the White Tower. Should he trust either? How do you think  this latest ‘news’ from Tar Valon will affect his actions?

Trust no one. I think he needs that embroidered on his underwear to remind him every day, multiple times a day. While the letters are each interesting, and he should keep their info in his head as background info, trust them? No. I don’t care what assurities Elaida offers, Do NOT Trust!

Still, the two approaches are interesting. One is clipped, decided, yet polite. The other worshipful, even begging for recognition. I guess if Rand ever needs to get inside the White Tower (openly, instead of simply Traveling there), these letters are his in.

6) Do you think Mat will be scarred for life by the death of Melindrha? What about their last encounter triggered her attack?

Yes and no. I think he will regret the necessity, he may even become more cautious about who he beds from now on. Will he get a Rand-complex concerning killing women? No. He’s a little too practical for that, and also very attached to his own skin. I wonder if his tastes will skew towards weaker women, shorter than him, etc. from now on?

I think Melindrha decided that Mat was no longer necessary as a source of info for Samiel’s plans. Perhaps she even intended to leave his dead body in place to sew confusion, sadness, terror (one attacked in the palace, and that one a close confidante’s of The Dragon Reborn!).

7) Moiraine and Lanfear: they have passed through the doorframe ter’angreal. Assumptions have been made that both are dead. If they are, how do you see that affecting the ones left behind? If one or both were to reappear later, how do you think that would happen?

Well, Lan will eventually end up in Nynaeve’s hands, and hopefully not too long from now. She needs a protector because her ornery attitude is making her enemies. I expect Moiraine’s letter to Thom will have a significant, if private, affect on his life and I look forward to that unfolding. Loial will be crushed, such a big sweetie that he is. I think Perrin and Nynaeve will be shocked in different ways – he may feel that yet one more thing he thought stable and permanent for this ongoing conflict has been yanked out from under him; Nynaeve because she put so much angst into teaching Moiraine specifically that she can’t just yank good kids out of Two Rivers without having a reckoning.

Lanfear was one of the most organized and driven of the Forsaken. I expect some of the Forsaken plans will fall apart with her out of the picture, which will be good for most of our characters. However, she was also, in her deranged way, protecting Rand/Lews. Without her protection, I expect we will see an increase in attacks on Rand.

If Moiraine can turn up later, so can Lanfear. Hmm…. should I wish for it or not? I think I have to for multiple reasons. Moiraine has a lot of knowledge and has backed Rand from the beginning. She has also learned her lesson that Rand and the Wheel will not allow the aes sedai to guide or control him. Also, I feel that Rand needs to face Lanfear on his own. While he has acknowledged his shortcoming (his inability to harm a woman, even an evil one in the act of destroying the good), he has not found a solution for this shortcoming.

8) Rand had a very intense discussion with Sulin. Do you think that Rand will be able to overcome his hesitancy to harm women in light of that discussion and Moiraine’s sacrifice?

I can see that Rand is already starting to think of this shortcoming differently. Sulin & crew are warriors. They have chosen this life and Rand cannot deny them their choice. By refusing to harm Lanfear he ended up sacrificing Moiraine and nearly lost Egwene and Aviendha too. While it was probably a virtue for 99% of his life to never, ever harm a woman, here he saw how that ‘virtue’ held him back from protecting good people. Not good women; not good children. Simply good people. I think Robert Jordan will keep this conundrum going for a few more, if not several more, books. But I am hoping to see Rand face and overcome his deeply ingrained hesitancy for the right reasons.

Other Tidbits:

Gosh, the Salidar aes sedai superiority streak has me wanting them to be faced with some horrendous set back or attack or such just to break that superiority complex! For the first time, I am not actively rooting for the aes sedai. Anyone else feeling this?

I wonder what the aes sedai will find upon testing Nicola and the other lady. Since it was made a deal of, I have to think Robert Jordan does something with one or both ladies. If one is a Forsaken in disguise, I wonder if she will be able to shield her abilities from detection…..

About time Rand told Mat straight up that he needs him and his past lives at his side. Mat obviously doesn’t like it, but at least he now knows that Rand, and the Wheel, won’t easily let him walk away.

Robert Jordan used plenty of foreshadowing concerning Moiraine’s sacrifice, going back….1 or 2 books. When she handed over the letters, I thought for sure something would click with the more logical of our party, like Lan or one of the Aiel. The Aiel know about sacrifice, so even if it clicked, perhaps they would keep silent. Still, I wonder why Lan didn’t raise an eyebrow on that one?

Lanfear is insanely jealous. Not healthy. She needs impulse control management therapy and some deep counseling concerning her possessiveness disorder.

13 thoughts on “The Fires of Heaven Read Along Part IX”

  1. Morning folks!

    1. Well, if it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck and shoots the bow like a duck (and with silver arrows to boot), I guess it has to be a duck. I don’t think the tales of her are obscure, exactly. The only source of doubt must be that she’s supposed to be… you know… dead. But so are the forsaken, and the Dragon, and probably a handful of other people I’m forgetting, too. In this day and age it might not be so hard to believe she really is Birgitte.

    2. The way things are going it seems only a matter of time before Nynaeve really does heal stilling. I guess that will be her thing, ter’angreal will be Elayne’s and dreaming for Egwene. Now we just need something for Aviendha to do.

    3. I certainly hope so. For the better, I mean. I don’t need more relationship angst, Rand can produce enough on his own without outside help, thank you very much.

    4. I thought it was hilarious. I sympathise with what’s-her-name, but we’re already on book five, and we don’t have time for everyone to find out the world is ending in a suitably sensitive manner.

    5. From her confrontation with Padan Fain in chapter 19 I guess we can conclude that Alviarin is a darkfriend. (I can’t remember if we talked about this or not… if this is new to you, I apologise.) So her letter is clearly a lie (and even if it weren’t, I would have just vomited from the tone of it—I wonder if this is what a darkfriend thinks other people want to hear). In fact it’s almost impressive that she managed to produce something that is even more obviously bullshit than Elaida’s.

    6. I think Mat’ll be fine, it will get filed away with everything else that is according to him wrong with either (a) the world, or (b) women. So I’m not too worried about Mat.

    I’m 99% certain that she attacked because he spilled the beans on the Caemlyn plan. When Rahvin (or whoever it was) mentioned that time that «if need be, someone close to him will die», I’m pretty sure he was alluding to Mat and Melindhra. It was a last ditch effort to set Rand toward Illian, but it appears not to have worked.

    7. Ah yes. Who is really dead and who is just classical fantasy dead (Gandalf style)? I feel like you can draw information from me no matter what I say, so I would prefer just to shut up. Although, Lan’s bond being transferred must mean something. It could just be an effect of the doorway, but Moiraine has been through the one in Tear, and the bond didn’t break then—or at least, not that we know of. And there’s a distinct tone of finality in Moiraine’s letter.

    And then you have to ask yourself what you want more: Lanfear dead or Moiraine alive.

    8. Ha, yeah, around book 120 or so. In fact I feel it is Rand’s failure to act and Moiraine’s sacrifice that starts driving him over the precipice. There will be a couple of other things happening to add to this, but in a way it all begins here. (Although Liesel would have me believe it started even two weeks earlier at the battle of Cairhien.)

    And I have to say, I have a soft spot for Sulin. Rather be stabbed to death in her sleep… sheesh…

    Other: So now with Nynaeve’s seal broken, there are only three that remain. Two are safe with Rand, and the
    last is still not found.

    I guess Liesel will show this one off today, but I just have to include it myself, too. This is the Fires of Heaven e-book cover, a beautiful depiction of one of the most important moments:

    See you next week in Caemlyn! Last man to the palace has to clean up Rahvin’s remains.

    1. Wow! That is a beautiful cover you gave the link to. Moiraine looks so determined and badass in it!

      That’s true about Birgitte – her story/legend is not unknown and so someone just has to be willing to set aside that little fact that she is suppose to be dead to see her for what she is.

      Perhaps Aviendha can be a warrior goddess….except they stuffed her in skirts and took her spears away….sigh. Rand needs a warrior goddess in his harem.

      I had forgotten about Alviarin’s little chitchat with Padan Fain but your comment reminded me. Yep, Rand is wise to simply file those letters under “People Who Want Me Dead”.

      So it sounds like Rand is going to become even more protective of women instead of the other way. Sigh… Well, I will put my blinders on when reading those sections because there’s plenty of good stuff going on in the series to keep me entertained.

      Will there be any remains? If he dies by fire, there might not be much to clean up. However, if he is simply smeared all over the wall and up to the ceiling, we’ll need to hire a professional biohazard crew to clean that up ;).

    2. Actually I didn’t use that pic today. Probably should have, but opted for another because I’ve used it or a cropped version of it before. People just wouldn’t have gotten the full significance before. 😀 I love Sulin, too. And Enaila. Most of the maidens, especially the older ones. Rand is bugged by them because they mother him so much, but I can’t help but love them.

    3. 1. Now I will forever think of Birgitte as a duck! 😀

      2. I thought Aviendha’s job was to melt rocks with her stare?

      5. Yep – I have no idea how she expected Rand to believe all that groveling rubbish, especially as he has actually met an Aes Sedai or two! 😀

      6. I like your thinking here: it seems suitably sneaky for Rahvin and would possibly have worked if she had succeeded.

      7. Of course I want Lanfear dead, but I won’t trust that she is dead until we have the proof of a very dead body that has been poked sufficiently with a pointy stick to reassure me that she is finally gone . . . and even then I would expect her to pop back in Tel’aran’rhiod cackling like a maniac or something.

  2. Yeah, I think Melindhra was exercising some Elaida-level dingbattery in trying to kill Mat. I mean, he’s tav’eren, the dragon reborn’s best friend, and she’s seen his battle prowess. I know she’s a warrior too, but did she really think she’d be able to kill him? Gotta say, not the brightest maiden in the bunch. ;D

    1. I think she must have been relying on surprise, obviously without success. As for not being the brightest in the bunch… well, when we started suspecting she was a Dark Friend, we probably also expected her to be a little dim, if determined, also.

      1. It’s my own fault for marrying an academic – every autumn the lovely students bring their germs from all over the world to create a superbug that gives me a bad cold! 😀

  3. 1. It’s good to know that I am not the only one frustrated with the Aes Sedai in Salidar – they are busy putting up curtains whilst the Last Battle is hurtling towards them . . . rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic, me thinks!

    3. I didn’t notice that attitude from Elayne, but that could just be my cold-fogged brain at work. I suppose Min’s acceptance of her fate could seem like ‘insta love’, but she knows that her viewings always come true and so she has no reason to ignore what they show her about her own future.

    7. Good point about Lanfear protecting Rand to a certain extent. I love the way you talk about her cool planning just after we have read about her totally losing her mind in a jealous tantrum! Then you chuck in the idea of her in counseling! Hilarious!!! 😀

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