Winter’s Heart Read Along Part I

WintersHeartBannerWelcome everyone to the continuation of The Wheel of Time saga. Here we are with Book 9, Winter’s Heart. As always, anyone is welcome to join us, so check out the schedule if you would like to do so.

This week, Eivind, our commenter with an encyclopediac knowledge of WoT, is our host this week. You can find him in the comments. Don’t forget to swing by Sue’s at Coffee, Cookies, and Chili Peppers for in-depth analysis and Liesel’s at Musings on Fantasia for non-spoilery fan art.

This week we covered the Prologue through then end of Chapter 2. Spoilers are having a party below!

1. With Talene’s capture, do you think we have seen the beginning of the end of the Black Ajah? Do you think the rebel moles will do more good hunting darkfriends than they did spreading dissent?

I think it is going to take quite a bit more to bring down the Black Ajah. While they haven’t been the best at planning, they have done a decent job of compartmentalizing. Many only know a few others, and I expect very few, if any of them, know all the Black Ajah. Besides, I want to see some momentous stand off between the Black Ajah and some good guys.

Considering how many Darkfriends, etc. are in the White Tower currently, I think the moles will spread dissent and disquiet by ferreting out Darkfriends. Pretty amusing, if you think about it. They weren’t very good at spreading rumors and dissent on their own. Maybe they saw it as a stupid task. But hunting Darkfriends is real, something they can sink their teeth into. They can do a very good job of causing disorder behind the scenes by forcing the Black Ajah to swear loyalty to them.

And is that messed up or not? What if they had been wrong? I wonder what they would have done after torturing Talene so thoroughly if it turned out she was not Black Ajah.

2. Elayne expects to have to battle for the throne. Do you think so too? Are we overdue for Gawyn to come back? Where is he anyway?

Yes, I expect Elayne will have to battle someone in some way for the throne….just as Rand had to battle various people to keep it safe for her. Of course, she is going to chose to have a fight with Rand over the fact that he ‘gave’ her the thrown. I still find that immature in the extreme. One can acknowledge the effort, the gift (if you must call it that) and still draw the line at allies instead of one being subservient to the other.

But back to Elayne and her real enemies. Yes, folks see the opportunity to yank the thrown out from Elayne’s family line. And why not, with her off doing far more important tasks like trying to seduce Thom, perfecting her high wire act, and pursuing the angreal of all angreals (the Bowl of Winds). Maybe my opinion on Elayne and her ‘right to rule’ are leaking through a bit. I am hoping that she is tested through conflict and that she proves worthy of ruling. Hoping. Not expecting.

Oh, yes! Let’s bring angry, sullen, deadly Gawyn back into the mix! That could be quite fun. Hie heart is torn in two or three between Andor, Egwene, and the White Tower. It is probably time something forced him to chose a side, instead of three.

3. Elayne and Aviendha are ‘born again’ as sisters! What did you think of this birth scene? Do you expect Min to have to go through the same thing?

This scene was way more intense than I expected. Aviendha and Elayne really had to lay everything out there and once having done so, had to decide if they still wanted to be sisters. I was pretty impressed with this scene actually. For every point, good or bad or silly, that the two had to proclaim aloud, the Wise Ones then shot it down, showing how human they each are. I do wonder what the bond will do going forward. Is it something like a Warder bond in that each will feel some of the other’s feelings or pain or inebriation through the link? If so, maybe that is why Aviendha has been so open with Elayne about Rand.

In Aiel culture, do women married to the same man have to be bonded Sisters? Or are they simply just sister wives? I am not sure Min will have to go through the same ritual. After all, she has spent far less time with the Aiel, isn’t as familiar with their culture. Perhaps she will refuse to marry Rand anyway and will just be a sort of friend with benefits. I can see her doing that as it allows her to keep her independence – both from Rand and his wives.

The Wheel of Time, bringing angry cats together again and again.

The Wheel of Time, bringing angry cats together again and again.

4. Taim added a few ‘deserters’ of his own. Can we now finally add him to the evil list? Do you think Logain might be able to do something good? Maybe Elayne will be able to help, now that she has visitor’s access?

Yes, I think we can add Taim to the Evil List even though it is quite a long list and it would be nice to add a few more people to the Good List (but we seem to keep killing off the good guys so it’s hard to get new people to apply). It seems that Logain is already very suspicious of Taim and has collected a circle of guys loyal to him. They also seem to have independent plans from Taim and keep tabs on his comings and goings. So as long as Logain doesn’t get killed any time soon, then yes, I think we can see some good come from him.

Elayne’s access to the Black Tower may be her chance to shine as a leader. After all, many people want the Black Tower dead and buried; let’s see how and if she defends it. Next, there is Taim who is just bad mojo in a nice impressive suit. I look forward to seeing Elayne square off with him.

5. Rand has decided to leave palace life and go hunt bad guys. Are you excited? How do you even hunt someone who can travel anyway? And what do you think his idea is to cleanse Saidin?

Well, I always get excited when Rand leaves his entourage behind. It usually means he is off to do something stupid, and may also mean that he will get his ass beat when he returns to the entourage.

It sounds to me like he is trying to lay false trails. As Min points out, he should lay a trail he wants someone(s) to follow and wait in ambush. Short Min with her knives, hiding in the bushes, tall Rand standing behind a tree, sword drawn. OK, they should sit down and work out some of the details. But for a start, that isn’t too bad. I wonder if they will catch Slayer or Moridin or a Forsaken or two. At least some Darkfreind underlings.

I have no idea how Rand will cleanse Saidin. I can’t see that happening easily. He’ll probably run the risk of burning himself out. Min will probably have to carry his near-carcass back to civilization. Honestly, I think this task is so huge, so momentous, that it can’t happen until the last book. And wouldn’t it need more than Rand, like maybe 13 Asha’men and Aes Sedai linked to carry it out? If it was simple, something a single determined man could do, then it probably would have been at least attempted before if not accomplished.

6. Perrin’s problems are just piling up: Masema will join him, and now he has to chase down Shaido while keeping his own Aiel safe from his other soldiers. Will this unlikely alliance ever hold together, or do you expect some spectacular blow-up sometime?

Blow up. We need one. Since Faile can’t be yelling at Perrin or throttling Berelain while she is held captive, we need some other source for the drama. So, yeah, I can see some of the wool-headed louts in Perrin’s entourage deciding to go after the Aiel in Perrin’s group. The Aiel will not take this well and they are already on edge, having lost some of their own. I am also not sure about Berelain and which road she will take. At first, it seemed she was trying to give Perrin sympathy (in a professional way) but then she went all seductive on him. So inappropriate. I liked that Perrin told her off, but somehow, I don’t think she will take the hint.

Then the wolves are even telling Perrin to let Faile go, to mourn her, and to move one. So sad. But it would be wrong to slap the wolves, wouldn’t it?

Other Tidbits

Mazrim Taim kept stealing glances at Elayne’s bum! While I understand that Elayne wants to handle Taim herself, does she really expect no one else will tell Rand?

Very interesting about the 51 Aes Sedai captured by Logain and his men, and all bonded to Asha’men. Logain himself has two now, and the one bedding him found the experience quite educational and exhilarating. ;)

Very cool to have some steam engines going on at the university. I foresee some Steampunk goodness in the WoT future!

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5 thoughts on “Winter’s Heart Read Along Part I

  1. Eivind Fonn says:

    Well, welcome to the “silence before the storm” part of the series. That’s not totally fair but I’m sticking with it! Only 56.3% done by word count. Feels like it should be so much more. Those Sanderson books are some serious doorstoppers though…

    1. I certainly hope so. It would be a much-needed and very sweet victory for the light, and a ‘fuck yeah!’-moment of the rarest caliber when Alviarin realises she’s beaten for good. I’m salivating just fantasising about it.

    I suspect the rebel moles might do more good in this service than they were already doing in helping to bring down Elaida. I’m not sure I saw a lot of impact coming from them, and with Egwene about to appear on the banks of the mighty Erinin, one might hope that her days as Amyrlin are numbered in any case.

    2. Ok, so let me adjust my earlier theory. There are three kinds of foes: the real evil guys who know full well what they’re doing, guys who should be good but has lost contact with reality (Sevanna, Elaida, Masema) and then people who are just too… stupid. Arymilla is one of these. I never really got worked up about her, she feels a bit like an obstacle that had to be in Elayne’s way to keep her busy until the rest of our heroes got ready for the last battle. She’s just not particularly interesting in any way.

    I really would like to see Gawyn back. I don’t think we’ve seen him since Dumai’s Wells? I guess he’s still up in Tar Valon being as clueless as only he can manage, but now that Egwene is about to start her siege he’ll have a choice to make…

    3. I liked it. Apparently you can’t just sister anyone. It was never clear to me exactly how this worked: if it’s necessary for Aiel women to be first-sisters if they want to marry the same guy or not. I guess it won’t hurt, but Min has a long way to go: she hasn’t even met Aviendha yet.

    4. Seeing this, and adding to it what I wrote on Sue’s blog last time (Taim giving special attention to all the known darkfriend asha’man as early as book six, except Dashiva), it’s not almost impossible to defend Taim’s innocence. I put my trust in Logain now, and hopefully maybe Elayne can lend a helping hand when she’s not busy beating off the Lady Git.

    5. Yeah, Rand! Palaces are not for you, go off into the woods and be awesome! Er… I hope he’s ready for this. I know Min is not defenseless but surely a trusted asha’man or two would not be amiss. It always struck me as very difficult to hunt someone who can literally teleport, and that his technique of spreading misinformation sounds a bit too complicated to work reliably.

    6. Too bad Perrin didn’t get juggling lessons from Thom: he could sure use them now. Poor guy, he never signed up for THIS. And poor Gaul… and Tallanvor… and ugh. Fuck Sevanna. Just get rid of her already please.

    • nrlymrtl says:

      Since you are so excited about the Fall of Alviarin moment, now I am excited. :)

      Ugh, yeah, that whole scene with Arymilla…..sigh. Elayne needs better door stoppers to keep the belligerently stupid out.

      Sigh…In my experience men go out into the woods for 3 things – necessity (take a piss, gather wood, etc.), grow pot, or to do stupid stuff (which often involves lots of armed hiking). I think Rand is currently in the 3rd category.

      Haha! Yeah, I think everyone is tired of Sevanna, even our characters who don’t even know her yet but who have felt her hand in misdeeds.

    • suecccp says:

      Blimey! Only 56% done? The later books must be truly monstrous! Of course, The Way of Kings and Words of Radiance are hardly tiny little pamphlets, so I am familiar with Mr Sanderson and his ability to write monster book! :D

      That sounds like I am disappointed that we aren’t nearer the end, which is simply not true, but I am surprised that there is so much left . . . this has been a crazy adventure, but thoroughly worth it! :D

      1. Egwene vs Alviarin would be a sweet showdown – though I am actually looking forward to Elaida’s moment of defeat soooooo much more! :D

      2. It would be so simple if Elayne could just zap her into a sooty blot on the carpet . . .

      4. Taim seems to be moving into Forsaken territory: he has all the arrogance and overconfidence that seems standard issue for those guys. I look forward to him getting mashed.

      6. Faile + knife = dead Sevanna . . . please!

  2. suecccp says:

    1. I have to assume that it is rather difficult for the Black Ajah to reveal the truth of their affiliation: I suspect that you have to treat them very roughly order to scare them into coughing up the details . . . after all, they will move to the top of the Dark One’s hit list if their treachery is discovered, and I would bet that they want to avoid that.

    2. I agree with you about Elayne’s attitude towards Rand at this point: too much chin lifting and too little thought. However, I suppose that it does weaken her claim to the throne if she is seen as simply a puppet for the almighty Dragon Reborn, so she may have a point there. I suspect that she is far better at understanding the politics of Andor than he is. I am hoping that Egwene can prove to Gawyn that Elayne is alive and kicking, which will probably settle him down quite a bit . . . plus a bit of sexytimes could work wonders for both of them! :D

    3. The idea of them getting ‘feedback’ from each other adds a whole new dimension to the concept of a threesome . . .

    4. I am almost disappointed that Taim is proving less and less trustworthy, but at least we have Logain and his impressive shoulders to be happy about! :D

    5. I suspect that cleansing the Taint might involve many channelers, although it might be more a case of lots of them defending the male and female doing the cleansing whilst hordes of dark friends, Forsaken and other assorted nasties try to toast them.

    6. I agree about Berelain: she had just earned a ton of my respect by being all sensible and then she had to go and ruin it by being flirty again! Arghhhh!!!!!

    • nrlymrtl says:

      Hopefully Gawyn will hear that Elayne has claimed Andor and will come running and hear directly from her how she is not dead. But that might be asking a lot from the young man as he seems pretty bent on hating Rand.

      Haha! Yes, the feedback loop for the Aiel sister-wives must be nice. Maybe Min will want to become a sister-wife after all? ;)

      Berelain makes me think of a few women I have known – ones that can be completely sensible and worthy around women, but throw a man into the mix and they go all flirty and competitive. Dork.

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