A Crown of Swords Read Along Part VIII

WOT 7 BannerWelcome back everyone! This week Eivind, our awesome commenter, is the host and you can catch him in the comments. You can catch my co-conspirators over at Coffee, Cookies, and Chili Peppers and Liesel’s Musing on Fantasia.

This week we covered Chapters 38-End. Spoilers Below!!!

1. In the Rahad we get a bit of a jumble as Ispan and Falion attack downstairs while the gholam cleaned up upstairs. With so many to choose from, who is ultimately behind this mess? Could the two be coordinated attacks or are they unrelated? Were you surprised that Joline and Teslyn (apparently) didn’t interfere (yet)?

Yeah, that fight was a bit of a jumble. I liked that Ispan and Falion were so arrogant and thought it would be so easy. But with the gholam, the good guys nearly lost the day. In reading it, I did not think the two were coordinated attacks. More, this felt like the Super Girls walking into yet another trap and Mat’s luck played a big role in getting them all out safely.

I think this might be yet another one of those little events were we don’t know who ultimately is behind it. I think we can say Ipsan and Falion were out to capture one or more of the Super Girls to hand over to Moghedien. As for the gholam, I am not sure we will know who is directing the beast-man thing for a book or more (or ever). He seems like a pretty complex thing, so I would guess that only a Forsaken (or higher) could create him.

2. The gholam: Immune to the Power and to blades, with superhuman strength and rubber man abilities, only known weakness is Mat’s medallion. What are your thoughts on this latest addition to the Shadow’s arsenal? How could this creature possibly be defeated? Will it try to avoid Mat and cause mayhem somewhere else or does it maybe have a desire for revenge?

Fuck!

Yeah, that was my first thought about the gholam. The good guys already have a shit list of things to take care of before the end of days or whatever comes knocking on their doors and now they have to add this thing to it? Is there more than one? Can it replicate itself?

Sooner or later, one of the good guys will have to defeat it, or one of the bad guys will get angry with it and destroy it. I am guessing it may have to be Mat who destroys it, since he has this medallion thingy. Or maybe, Elayne will be able to replicate the medallion, or certain aspects of it, and that would at least protect certain trap-prone members of the Good Guy Team.

The gholam was definitely committed to the fight, but will it seek revenge? I am not sure. While it had independent thought and motive for the fight while it was going on, does it have such outside of a fight? I can’t say yet.

3. It seems Elayne and Nynaeve are now left heading a jolly mix of Aes Sedai, Kinswomen and Sea Folk channelers (and Lan… poor guy), heading for a farm not far out of Ebou Dar. With the Seanchan invasion, there is no turning back, but do they even know? Can they escape? Where do they even go? How about the nearly 2000 kinswomen who are about to be seized by the Seanchan?

OK. I am not a fan of the Seanchan. Who is? They are the bad guys from across the sea. But I mean, I have never really clicked with their culture, their motivation, etc. in the plot.

With that said, I am really, really hoping that they get their asses handed to them early next book. I think Nynaeve and Elayne need to mobilize the Kinswomen, give them a minimum of training and a lot of motivation (perhaps a wee demo of an a’dam) and then set them upon the Seanchan. Might even make me feel a little sorry for the Seanchan.

But knowing this series, they will probably go to the farm, have a long rambling way to get there full of traps and other dangers. Perhaps they will get the Sea Folk to help them with the Windy Bowl, and then, finally, they will blow the Seanchan navy out of the water, literally. Ha!

4. With all the girls gone, Mat and the men are stuck in Ebou Dar with uncertain fate as the “storm” breaks, and the dice stop rolling in the same moment. Please speculate here on Mat’s future and the reasons why he must stay behind.

Well, we know that Mat is Ta’veren and he also has these dice that he has learned to listen to. So perhaps he has to stay because he can be guided by the Pattern. Also, he has the medallion and the Seanchan can’t touch him with their captive channelers. So this puts him in a unique position to be able to push back. Still, he is just one man and can still be harmed by blades, arrows, and clubs. I am quite curious to see what mat’s plot line does next.

5. Sammael sees fit to trick the Shaido into scattering themselves over a large area roughly in Ghaeldan, Altara and Illian, but not before giving them an Oath Rod! Incidentally this is where almost all of our heroes are at the moment. What do you predict for them and this trio of distasteful women (Sevanna, Therava, Galina)? Which storyline could they mess up next?

I need to be educated here. What does the Oath Rod do? My understanding is that the Oath Rod is really just for binding oaths, right? So, can the oath be forced or does the Rod only recognize freely given oaths? Can Sevanna and crew force people to kneel at spear point and say an oath over the Oath Rod and have it be binding?

Rand and Min are all in Illian (well, Rand having returned from Shadar Logoth). And Elayne and Nynaeve and Mat are all near Altara being in Ebou Dar or just outside it. I know Sevanna wants Rand in all the ways that are wrong. Perhaps she thinks she can force him into obedience with the Oath Rod and that would make him her first target.

And perhaps Min will place her swift knives in Sevanna’s organs in alphabetical order. Just a thought.

6. Rand wastes no time after waking and promptly brings the hammer down on Illian while Sammael thinks he’s out cold. Do you agree with this gambit? How would you rate this attack compared to the last time Rand stormed a forsaken’s lair (Rahvin)? What do you think about Sammael’s decision to retreat to Shadar Logoth?

Again, Rand didn’t take the time to have a snack before running outside to play. The boy will tire himself out, maybe even faint, if he is not careful.

Sammael was surprised, but I found this attack to be rather vague (see answers to next two questions). It makes sense that Sammael retreated to Shadar Logoth, a stronghold of evil and dark deeds. The last question kind of touches on this, but I will go on here.

The ‘death’ of Sammael was very anticlimatic and not very satisfying. Once again, we have a supposed death and I really, really want to slap Rand for not double checking his work before handing it in. I have this sneaking suspicion that Sammael fled to Shadar Logoth for multiple reasons, and one of them was that he had a fail safe fake death planned, if he needed it. And Rand just fell for it! For that alone I kind of hope that Sammael gets to leave a mark on Rand, to help remind him in the future to always, always take the head.

7. While duelling in Shadar Logoth, Rand runs into a mysterious figure (the “Wanderer”). What do you make of this fellow? Friend or foe?

The Warder deifnitely helped Rand, but this might have been to suit his own needs. He did go on a bit about how if Rand died a fair number of plans would have to be scrapped and recreated later. So, I think that so long as Rand is sane and fighting for the greater good, the Warder is a friend. But if rand ever loses it for real, I think we can count on the Warder taking him out, if need be.

And the Warder threw balefire but Rand didn’t feel him engage saidin. Interesting. If the Warder was using the True Power as granted by the Dark One, then the Warder obviously had some reason for wanting Sammael out of the picture. But perhaps there is an equivalent power source on the light side of things and the Warder was drawing upon that.

Or the Warder is a woman’s soul trapped in a man’s body and was pulling on Saidar. We’ve only seen this happen with the Forsaken, but I guess it could happen with the light side too. Perhaps Moiraine is back, with an extra appendage?

8. Rand eventually kills Sammael and is granted the throne of Illian, giving his personal empire a direct border with the Seanchan invaders (or at least soon enough), setting the stage for a spectacular show. How do you think this will come about? Will they have to be defeated, or do you think Suroth can be reasoned with?

I see the plot going one of two ways from here.

1) Rand has to utterly dominate the Seanchan in battle, shaking them to the core of their empire. I think this would take a lot of time and cost a lot of lives. Since we are only at the half way point for the series, this is a doable path.

2) Rand’s ta’veren-ness steps in again and once he gets to Suroth, she feels the need to kneel at his feet and obey his every command. Hey, it’s happened with others, why not the Seanchan.

It will be very interesting to see where the story goes from here.

Other Tidbits:

I found it very interesting how Elayne and Nynaeve reacted to Mat’s discomfort over Tylin’s aggressive affections. They appear to have had a quiet word with Tylin, discouraging her from further pursuits. I think they would have acted quite differently if Tylin was a man and Mat a woman in this situation.

Haha! It was nice to see Mat throw out the charm and simply tell the Sea Folk how it was to be. Very nice!

Is anyone else biting their nails over Olver?

13 thoughts on “A Crown of Swords Read Along Part VIII

  1. Eivind Fonn says:

    1. Well, Ispan and Falion are (or were) under Moghedien’s thumb, so it seems likely she sent them. We even know she was in Ebou Dar so that’s a safe guess. I’m also assuming that the gholam is what Sammael referred to when he told Carridin he would send “someone”. We also saw a handful of nameless faces grab part of the angreal stash while Mat was fighting the gholam. They didn’t get the bowl, but god only knows what else they made off with… And presumably this all ended up in Sammael’s hands. I guess this is where he got the oath rod from that he later gave to Sevanna. Where the rest is, and who has it, we can only guess.

    Anyway, back to the question. Since Moghedien is now working for Moridin, and Sammael evidently was operating alone, I think it was just a coincidence that everything happened at once.

    2. As far as shadowspawn go, the gholam seems by far the most dangerous of them all (perhaps next to Slayer). Mat achieved only a temporary victory, but right now it’s not clear at all how the final victory will come about. How do you kill this thing? Well, I know how it’s done in the end, and it’s really, really clever. :D

    3. 2000 channelers would be a formidable force, but I doubt they would be able to gather them all before the Seanchan snaps them up. I don’t recall how many are at this farm exactly, but I don’t think it’s more than a small fraction. We’ll have to wait for the beginning of the next book for the answers to the rest of the questions I asked.

    4. More than likely this has to do with the Daughter of the Nine Moons. She’s related to the Seanchan, we know, and they have just invaded and are setting up shop, so now we’re just waiting for her, whoever she turns out to be, to show up.

    The first six books were released in very rapid fashion over about four years. Then ACOS took a little less than two years to finish, and TPOD slightly more than that, same WH (book nine). So this is where the publication starts to slow down. Just like Perrin, Mat’s storyline takes a break in book eight. I think this ruffled many fan’s feathers when they had to wait more than four years for the continuation of Mat’s story after this major cliffhanger!

    Fortunately for us, TPOD will take just six weeks and we can get back to him reasonably soon. :)

    5. Oh I hate this bunch so much, so much so that when they’re all together it’s almost entertaining. Of course they’re there for a reason: to interfere and mess up the storyline of one of our heroes, though it remains to see who that will be since they’re all in the vicinity.

    You can force people to swear on the oath rod. Actually that was what it was used for originally, to control criminals. Semirhage was due to be bound with it after all her insane medical experiments, but she escaped to become (more) evil instead. It only works on female channelers though, so they can’t use it on average Joe and Jane.

    Alphabetical order, that’s creative. I tried to work it out, but after brain and heart I think she’d be dead before all the fun starts. So maybe reverse?

    6. I understand that this was done to surprise Sammael, but I have to agree with the ladies that this was unreasonably risky. Then again, I was impressed with how well thought out the attack was and how easily they nullified Sammael’s wards. Just channel everywhere, then hide and wait until you sense Saidin!

    Going to Shadar Logoth was suprising to me, but who can pick the mind of a forsaken, anyway?

    7. So he has knowledge nobody of this age has (he knows how Sammael thinks), he can channel without Rand sensing it (so it’s not Saidin, and probably not Saidar either, since Rand would have felt a tingle if he did). He’s helping Rand but it doesn’t seem to be because he’s a good guy: he didn’t want to see Rand die “today” because it would mess up his plans. He has the same disdain for modern Aes Sedai that we’ve come to expect from the forsaken.

    So the common consensus is that this was actually Moridin. It goes to show again that Sammael’s top mistake was distancing himself from the other forsaken and the Dark One. Moridin could have helped him but chose not to. It apparently made more sense from the perspective of the Shadow as well to just let him die.

    8. Considering Suroth is a darkfriend, I doubt she would be amiable to tea and cookies with Rand. With her, Rand will need to show strength. And we will see how this thing plays out quite soon. It’s actually one of my favourite parts of the 7-10 sequence, which has gotten a lot of criticism for being slow and dull. Which is fair enough I suppose, but 9 and 10 deserve it more so than 7 and 8.

    • Liesel Hill says:

      I liked the alphabetical order comment too. Glad you explained some about the oath rod. You know, I get that the plot meanders a bit here and over the next few books, but I never felt that way as much as other fans. With the exception of a handful of chapters, usually something is happening. I think the bigger problem here is the number of plotlines Jordan was trying to juggle. So it’s definitely long and somewhat meandering because of all the subplots and side characters, but in terms of action, it’s rarely slow. Anyway, that’s my two sense. I went to the LTUE conference this past weekend and Brandon Sanderson was there. I got to talk to him briefly, which was cool. And he made all kinds of WoT references during his panel. Which made me ridiculously happy. :D

    • nrlymrtl says:

      I hadn’t thought of Sammael’s goons making off with some of the angreal. Hmmm…not good. But that also feeds into my suspicion that Sammael was able to fake his death later in the book.

      Saughter of the 9 Moons, Suroth, and the Seanchan…and then Mat is Ta’veren and we know he is destined to be intertwined with Daughter of 9 Moons somehow. So, yeah, maybe Rand isn’t the guy who stops the Seanchan. Maybe it is Mat. Look forward to seeing how that turns out.

      Haha! Adrenal glands first? That should be painful. But we can go reverse if you like, starting with the thyroid.

      Moridin? Wow! OK, I had not even considered that. So, we never find out for absolute certainty?

      I don’t think Book 7 was dull. Cadsuane, and Tylin, and Rand & Mat bullying the Sea Folk. Not boring at all.

      • Eivind Fonn says:

        Re: Moridin, sometimes I write that I “think” when I actually know, because I don’t want to take away all the mystery for you guys. I guess we don’t ever find out with ABSOLUTE certainty, but it’s well established beyond any reasonable doubt that it was Moridin in Shadar Logoth. :)

      • suecccp says:

        I agree – I haven’t noticed a decline in the excitement level in this book . . . but I can understand how fans get very critical when an author doesn’t write fast enough: they have too long to imagine what will be in the next book and then get disappointed by the reality.

    • suecccp says:

      1. Agreed: it was very messy, but I do wish that the Super Girls would at least try to avoid any further traps.

      2. I suppose that we should just be happy that the other 5 are not loose as well . . .

      3. Plus, these are not women used to using their abilities to battle experienced and ruthless damane – they wouldn’t stand a chance.

      4. No Mat or Perrin in Book 8? :(

      5. It is interesting that the oath rod was originally to control criminals – is that why the Aes Sedai don’t live as long as the Kin?

      6. I was left wondering about all those thousands of troops that had needlessly slogged all the way to Illian as a diversion . . . of course, they are now on hand to fight the Seanchan . . .

      7. Well, Sammael was behaving a little like a mad dog, so I can understand why the Dark One would want him removed.

      8. I had forgotten that Suroth was a dark friend: her personality is enough to make me dislike her! :D

      • Eivind Fonn says:

        I meant to say that Mat’s gone from book 8, just like Perrin from book 5. There’s definitely Perrin in book 8.

      • nrlymrtl says:

        Good point that they are not experienced to use their skills in battle and that the damane would annihilate them.

        Ooo! Yes, if the Aes Sedai keep applying the Oath Rod, maybe that does limit their lifespan some what. Hmm…. I like this theory. Perhaps we will get an answer within the next 2-3 books? Or maybe never. Hard to tell with this series.

        Suroth and her attitude. Yes, I think she will be in for a rude, and highly entertaining awakening, when Rand, Egwene, Cadsuane, Elayne, Nynaeve, Lan, Perrin, and Mat bring forces to squish her and her bug-helmeted soldiers. :)

  2. Liesel Hill says:

    LOL. I think everyone’s waiting to see the Seanchan have their backsides handed to them. It’ll definitely be a fine day. The idea of Moiraine returning with an extra appendage made me smile. And yes, I remember being very worried about Olver the first time I read this. On the one hand, he’s something of a survivor (keeping in mind how Mat first found him) but I also worry about him and Mat finding one another again, and how that will play out. Guess we’ll see. :D As for the oath rod, keep in mind that what the Aes Sedai use it for is not necessarily what it was originally used for. (Eivind explains more.)

    • nrlymrtl says:

      Yes, I definitely want to see the Seanchan humbled and kicked out of Randland (or turned into servants). I’m not picky.

      Right, Olver is a survivor, so I have high hopes for him. He is also really good with horses and horses are smart and will flee danger given the opportunity.

  3. suecccp says:

    1. The Super Girls . . . walking into a trap? The Black Ajah begin all ignorant and overconfident? Who could have guessed? :D

    I can’t imagine anyone other than one of the Forsaken could control a Gholam or even want to because it is so deadly.

    2. Well, when a mummy Gholam and a daddy Gholam love each other very much . . . :D

    I suspect that Elayne might be able to create more medallions, although they might not all be as powerful as Mat’s. Perhaps if enough of them are used against it it can be herded into Elaida’s bedroom or some other suitable place to keep it prisoner.

    3. I suspect that the Seanchan have chosen now to do the Return because of some prophecy or other. Alternatively, they are being controlled by one of the Forsaken, who knows how much chaos they can cause. I hope that someone in charge finally sees the value of everyone fighting the Big Bad Guy.

    4. I am pretty certain that the Daughter of the Nine Moons is about to show up and sweep up her soon-to-be husband. I just hope she treats him with more respect than Tylin.

    5. Just as long as SOMEONE puts knives in Sevanna ASAP! I guess the problem with the Oath Rod is that Sevanna has no idea what it is and cannot use it herself. However, I am quite sure that she will create mayhem with it somehow or other.

    6. I agree with you. I was left with the uneasy feeling that Sammael wasn’t dead at all and I really wanted Rand to at least find a greasy smear on the ground or something to suggest that he was actually gone. Of course, we don’t know if he could be resurrected to be a further nuisance, so it might be a moot point anyway :(

    7. Moiraine with an extra appendage! :D

    I am pretty sure that it was Moridin and I guess that the need to redo all their plans would refer to waiting until the Dragon is reborn again before they can destroy him properly. It probably makes more sense to the Dark One than it does to me.

    8. I think I see a third path. The battle between Rand and the Seanchan is hard fought but isn’t looking good. Then, in swans Mat with his new wife, the Daughter of the Nine Moons, to tell Suroth to play nice and make an alliance. I can’t see Suroth kneeling for anyone other than a higher ranking member of the Blood.

    • nrlymrtl says:

      I like your idea of keeping the gholam safely locked in Elaida’s bedroom. However, if said room is not available, then perhaps Suroth’s? Or Valda’s? Or Sevannah’s? Actually, there is quite a list of annoying/evil characters whose bedrooms can be made available.

      Yes, I would feel much better if the Good Guy Team had Sammael’s head, or heart, or lungs, or liver, or stomach. I think any of those would do as it is extremely hard to live without any one of them for long enough to flee and seek a significant healing source.

      Suroth might only kneel to have her head cut off. But, yeah, you could be right with the battle going poorly and Mat and 9 Moons rescuing the day.

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