Welcome everyone to Book 12 of The Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan. You can find the schedule to The Gathering Storm over HERE. Everyone is welcome to join us!
This week, we covered the Chapters 29-35. Spoilers run rampant for this section and all previous books below!
1) We journey to yet another impressive city. What are your impressions of Bander Eban and its inhabitants? Do you think that Rand will succeed in bringing peace and unity to the region, or will it all dissolve into chaos again as soon as he moves on?
I think Bander Eban, like many cities Rand touches, will hold together until the Last Battle and that is where their fate will be decided. If they hold strong through it, and aren’t swarmed and destroyed by trollocs or other minions, then they will be around to help rebuild the world afterwards.
2) I feel as if I am being overly harsh towards Gawyn, but he does seem to be very slow on the uptake! Do you think that he will ever see sense and stop trying to rescue Egwene? Will their reunion be all magical and gushing, or will Egwene take exception to Gawyn’s image of her as only a helpless puppet and not the awesomely powerful woman that she has become?
I think Gawyn will only see reason when he sees Egwene call down lightning and take out a dozen Aes Sedai, or when the the entirety of the White Tower (reunited) bows to her. So, yeah, he needs a slap upside the head. If he insists on saving her at any point and calls her a puppet (of course, in a very well meaning let-me-rescue-you-silly-girl kind of way), then she just might use a bit of balefire to demo her sincere commitment to her curse.
3) Cadsuane has decided to enlist the Wise Ones in her efforts to ‘guide’ Rand. Do her thoughts suggest that she is starting to truly understand him and do you think that her efforts will have a positive or negative result?
We are nearing the critical mass moment in the series; that point where if something doesn’t give, then all is lost. I don’t think we want everyone dead and the world on fire at the end of the series. So I am pretty confident that soon we will see some of our more stubborn characters (Cadsuane, Nynaeve, Egwene, etc.) learning how to bend and work with Rand instead of just pushing him around. So, yes, I am very hopeful that Cadsuane’s efforts will have a positive outcome.
Or Rand loses his shit and balefires her, unraveling this time thread as we know it, and sending the wheel of time off into the cosmos with a broken axle.
4) Nynaeve decides to go off and ‘help’ Rand behind his back. Were you surprised by what she discovered or how she went about it? Do you think that there is any chance at all that she will be able to moderate her behavior to guide Rand in a similar way to Moiraine?
Ah….remember those early days when many of our characters had little or no power, so they had to actually go chat with folks to figure out what was going on? Yeah, it was nice to see Nynaeve returning to her sleuthing ways. I was only a little surprised at her discovery, as it made sense.
I am really hoping that Nynaeve, like Cadsuane, can learn to bend a bit in order to help Rand relearn how to bend.
5) Mat spent hours coming up with very interesting, and thorough, backstories for his group of spies. Was this a justifiable use of his time or were his men correct in finding it all rather funny? Aludra demands all the resources in the world for her ‘dragons’: will Rand go along with this plan or see it as pointless?
Since Mat probably would have spent the time carousing, dicing, and drinking instead of writing backstories, then yes, I think it was an excellent use of his time. Besides, his handwriting probably needed the practice and we all know his men needed the laugh.
I think Rand will need a simple demonstration of Aludra’s fireworks/weapons and then he will be on board. Perhaps this will be useful is swaying Tuon’s take on the Dragon Reborn?
6) Verin has returned! Any ideas why she has been hanging around in the mountains distributing flyers rather than Travelling about trying to find Mat and Perrin?
Well, she did mention that Mat’s ta-veren-ness was holding her in place and she was damn tired of hanging out in these particular mountains. She could be right, if her finding Mat and then transporting his army turns out to be critical to the plot. We will have to keep reading to find out if this is so.
On the other hand, she could be a Dark Friend, as she is kind of hard to read, lacking social graces as she does. I know we get asked every few books as to whether or not we trust Verin and so far, she only done one or two slightly questionable things (remember the Compulsion on the Aes Sedai t swear to Rand several books back?). So, yeah, so far I trust her and it is apparent so does Mat.
7) Could Rand’s meeting with Tuon have gone any more badly? Do you think that this will signal open warfare between Rand and the Seanchan, or is there still a chance of a truce?
As you all know, I am not feeling the love for Tuon. Even when I take into account her upbringing, both as the the daughter of the Empress and the Seanchan love and dedication to hierarchy, I still can’t believe she is so bullheaded! She spent several weeks to a few months traveling with Mat seeing a bit of the local culture and she is still so utterly out of contact with these people she believes she rules. Dork.
Anyway, yes, it could have gone a little worse – like if someone from Rand’s party had drawn a weapon when Tuon’s guard did.
I don’t think we will have open warfare until (and unless) Tuon successfully attacks the White Tower and the Rebel Aes Sedai and enslaves a chunk of them. But if I recall Egwene’s dream correctly, then a Seanchan warrior was offering Egwene a hand up, right? That alone gives me hope that this can still be salvaged. Oh, and that we are nearing the end and these folks all have to get their shit together if they want to even make it to the last party.
When Mat was going over the backstories with the guys, I loved Talmanes’s dry humor, especially when he suggested he be a wandering Aiel who had heard there was a horse (or was it a goat?) who had insulted his father within the city.
I think Tuon is handicapped by the fact that she doesn’t really have friends All the people who would be her friends, she sees as inferior, and ultimately, she can command them to kill themselves. Real friends don’t do that. So, unlike all the other stubborn fools we have, Tuon doesn’t have an equal-footed friends to tell her when she is being an idiot.
And at the end of this section, we learned a little about the Seanchan prophesy for the Last Battle, and, did I hear this right?, rand needs to be blind before the Seanchan can ride to glory, and then send Rand in to do single combat with the Dark One? Did I get that all right? WTF?!?