Winter's Heart Read Along Part V

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.

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

This week we covered Chapters 18-23. Spoilers are having a party below!

1. Who knows what an illuminator might want with a bellfounder? Do you? Do you expect Mat to figure it out or will he have to keep seducing Aludra?

Cannon, of course. That’s what I would do with a good bellfounder. Or explosive mines of some sort. Or explosive caltrops. Hmm… lots of things that need a thick shell of metal to make the explosion having meaning.

And, no, I don’t think Mat will figure it out until it is staring at him in the face. Of course, if he spent more time thinking on it rather than planning how to weasel the next kiss out of Aludra, he would stand a better chance at figuring it out.

2. Egeanin and Bayle Domon are back! What do you think of their peculiar relationship?

I am a little surprised that Bayle has been OK with being a kept man for so long. It must be love. And the inherent danger of leaving a ranking Seanchan woman in the dust.

I like that Egeanin is changing her views, at least a little, because of her affection for Bayle. For instance, he did something inappropriate (by Seanchan standards) and she had him beaten. And he refused to join her in bed until she sincerely apologized for it. Which she did. So this shows that the Seanchan are capable of compromise, especially behind a closed door so that the whole world doesn’t have to witness it.

3. It seems like there are already a handful of people who know that sul’dam can channel. So far Suroth has been able to keep a lid on it. Do you think the latest events will inadvertently speed up the plan to bring down the Empire by sending ‘un-brainwashed’ sul’dam into Seanchan-held lands?

Originally, I thought this plan to send some sul’dam who have ‘seen the light’ back to Seanchan lands was not a good idea simply because we didn’t have enough time for it to bear fruit (though Sue did point out that many of those sul’dam would most likely be executed if they mentioned anything, which I also agree with). But this little tidbit changes the playing field a bit. It seems that a few people, high and low, know that sul’dam are Channelers (at least very weakly). If the good guys do manage to send back several educated sul’dam at once, it may be too big for Suroth and others to keep a lid on.

However, I think it will take something more to bring down the Empire. After all, we have seen domane (spelling?) that live to serve. Perhaps they will have to be paid a pittance and no leashes, but they will still serve. I think this will be true especially for those who have grown up in the Seanchan culture where this is not only accepted, but expected.

4. Quite a few people are now looking to Mat for help: three Aes Sedai, Egeanin and Bayle, Bethamin. Will Mat be able to satisfy them all and lead a proper exodus? And where does Tuon fit in?

Well, there will be cannon and perhaps a ship (with Bayle captaining it). Aes Sedai making fire balls and lightning can make a distraction. And if Tuon either orders them to be allowed to escape or is taken along with them, that could be the last thing needed. Oh, and what will Thom and maybe Tylin’s son add to the mix? Mat is ta’veren so I think he will be able to help most of them and maybe even take out the gholam too.

5. Rand has brought his entourage into Far Madding, where nobody can channel, to kill renegade Asha’man. Is this a good plan, or does it leave him needlessly exposed to non-channelers (such as two old friends we saw again this week: Slayer and Padan Fain)?

I think it is a good plan as it levels the playing field a bit and keeps either the bad guys or Rand from maximizing the collateral damage (either intentionally or not). And while Slayer and Padan Fain are crazy fucks, they will also underestimate Rand (because he can’t channel in this location) and so won’t give his sword abilities much heed. Rand may end up injured, yet again, but he now has three ladies (and a fourth if you count Alanna) to fuss over him and make it more sexy, if not better.

6. Alanna is back on her feet, and Cadsuane is using her to home in on Rand. Will she needlessly complicate things, or do you expect her and her people to be useful?

I think Cadsuane will be useful, but Alanna may complicate matters. Cadsuane strikes me as very practical without being all huffy about it (like Nynaeve) or having to be acknowledged the center of things (like Egwene or Elayne) before acting. Remember that slap she gave Rand a few books back to bring him to his senses? Who else would walk up and do that to the Dragon Reborn?

Alanna on the other hand may go all weepy and either homicidal or suicidal over Rand. I can see her throwing herself in harm’s way to either protect Rand or to get his attention. This could make all sorts of carefully laid plans go messy.

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

Other Tidbits

Bayle recognized Mat, and Mat is ta’veren. So I wonder what all that means – what does the Wheel want out of this situation? Bayle + Mat + ships + Aludra’s cannons = glorious chaos and much entertainment for the reader. 🙂

The image of Mat burning a bundle of pink ribbons was highly amusing. Despite all his fussing, he also notes several times in this week’s reading that he doesn’t mind bedding Tylin. He just doesn’t want to wear pink while doing it.

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