The Gathering Storm, Part VI

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JordanGatheringStormBannerWelcome 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, I am your host. Eivind, our WoT encyclopedia, can be found in the comments. Make sure to swing by Liesel’s at Musings on Fantasia  for cool fan art. Sue at Coffee, Cookies, & Chili Peppers has critical thinking skills and tiny violins.

This week, we covered the Chapters 36-42. Spoilers run rampant for this section and all previous books below!

1) Verin demands a deal for Travelling his army & Mat demands a compromise. What do you think is in Verin’s sealed letter of instructions? Will Mat hold to his bargain?

Ugh….what could Verin have in mind? Well in light of what we learn later on in this section, I think she has left instructions that will 1) make amends for some of her past bad deeds and 2) help the Dragon Reborn’s efforts to defeat the Dark One. But I really don’t have any idea on specifics.

I am not sure if Mat will hold to the bargain. Obviously he is reluctant to agree to carry out sealed instructions (which seems remarkably prudent of him – must be because he so strongly distrusts Aes Sedai). If Mat hears about Verin being Black Ajah but that she died in order to reveal the Black Network to Egwene, then I think he will be more inclined to carry out her request. But I don’t see Mat and Egwene having a chat before the time limit is up.

2) Tuon, now referred to as Fortuna, carried through with her decision to attach the White Tower. What did you think of her discussion with Selucia concerning how this action might very well turn the Dragon Reborn against the Seanchan? Is Fortuna’s concerns well founded, or should she be more concerned about how the Aes Sedai will react?

I think Tuon is having second thoughts about her decision to attack the White Tower and defy the Dragon Reborn. But of course she can’t outright say that and she sure as hell can’t act on these misgivings in any way that would lower her eyes.

She has stirred up a hornet’s nest one way or the other. Face the wrath of the Dragon Reborn or face the fury of a trampled on and surly united White Tower? Hmmm… I would rather face Rand. either way, Fortuna is in deep shit.

3) Rand is certain he has removed Graendal from the picture. Do you agree? Will Nynaeve forgive Rand for having her play a part in his ruse?

I am one of those people that always needs a body. Or a head. Or a heart. In the case of balefire, I need to see with my own eyes the person who is being wiped out of existence. So while I hope that Rand’s little ruse told true, I wouldn’t be terribly surprised if Graendal popped up later.

Nynaeve is pretty cool about telling Rand that she despises the action he has taken. She is very careful to separate the action from the man. She doesn’t hate Rand but she sure as hell hates having been a party to killing an entire castle full of servants and playthings (even if they were little more than mindless zombies). It think that if Rand defeats the Dark One and saves the world, and lives to talk about it later, then Nynaeve will be able to forgive him.

Though she will probably take pains to gather up all the mentally tortured and broken who were affected by the Forsaken, myrrdraal, etc. and tuck them away in a very comfortable basement while she strives to find a way to heal them all.

4) Nynaeve swallows her pride and asks Cadsuane and the Wise Ones to let her in on The Plan. Why do you think they want Perrin? Any ideas on what The Plan is?

I am not sure why they want Perrin, though I think that whatever they are planning won’t work unless you have the trio together (Rand, Perrin, Mat). I hope they have already figured this out. Though it does seem to be a bit childish to keep the entire plan from Nynaeve as I think she has proven to be one of Rand’s truest friends.

While listening to this section, I really felt that Cadsuane had backslid and was being an arrogant ass once again. Sigh…..Is Min the only one to realize that Rand needs support not bludgeoning? He needs guidance, not to be herded? I wonder why Sorilea didn’t take a greater lesson from Cadsuane’s banishment.

5) And the big reveal for this section concerns Verin. Did you see that coming? What more did she leave in her notebook for Egwene to decipher?

Argh! OK, so no offense at all to my compatriots in this read along. But since it had been asked more than once during past books if we thought Verin was Black Ajah, I had kind of figured that she must have some tie to them or be one, otherwise why keep asking? So, I had a sinking feeling that Verin was going to turn out evil and I was deeply concerned for Egwene when Verin turned up in her room.

But, Verin held true to her character – deeply curious about the world around her, she fond herself in this horrible situation where she could either die or become Black. And yet, she plans her death so that she has some time to leave Egwene a pretty powerful gift – all the info she has collected on the Black Ajah. I bet is like a huge PhD dissertation. So I was very happy to see that Verin is indeed a good guy, even if she had to do some horrible things (which she regrets deeply) to get to this point.

I would love for there to be a side story on Verin!

As to what else (besides the very long list of Black Ajah) is in the book… well, I would think there would be a list of Dark Friends, especially those in stations of power or influence. I wouldn’t be surprised if there was some detailed notes on Weaves of torture or Compulsion or How To Be A Sneaky Bitch.

6) The Seanchan finally attack the Tower! Feel free to gush about your favorite parts. What did you think of Bryne’s demand of Warder status of Siuan (and his still unnamed second demand)? Was Egwene bad-ass enough for you? Pleased or surprised by the actions/reactions of the other Aes Sedai?

I loved how Egwene took control of the battle in her section. When she was challenged by one Sister (who said something like – Oh, so you think you are in charge?) and Egwne bluntly tells her yes and asks her if she would prefer to be in charge. Of course, the Sister declines because who really wants to be in charge in a fucked up situation like that (and if you just raised your hand and said, ‘Pick me!; then you need to get a job in Emergency Management.

I also like how Sierin (spelling?) had a central place for info to flow into and back out, and for the wounded to stumble to if there were no Aes Sedai on hand to do the healing on the front line.

And then Siuan and Bryne have to save each other. So romantic! In a totally kick ass kind of way.

And I like tht Bryne made the demand to be Siuan’s Warder. I look forward to seeing what his second demand turns out to be. Perhaps he will ask her to stop doing his laundry and consider that debt paid. It might be a bit too gushy if he asks her to marry him.

7) The aftermath: Do you think the Seanchan raid on the White Tower will be seen as a success or a loss by the Seanchan? How will Egwene react to being removed from the Tower? How will the Tower react to it’s loss of Elaida?

I am really hoping the Seanchan see it as a loss, but I am not sure their collective pride will allow that. Also, I am not sure what their body count was compared to the number of captured and/or dead Aes Sedai.

I know Egwene was mumbling not to remove her from the Tower, but if they start flying a white flag of truce and talks the next morning, then Egwene may not be too upset about it. Plus, she will have a chance to snuggle kiss Gawyn.

Well, once they have confirmed that Elaida is missing, I think many will sigh a big sigh of relieve. Then they will have to struggle with the moral question of trying to rescue or ransom her (which might not be possible due to the Tower losses). It would be funny if it was Egwene of all people who insisted they rescue Elaida – but Egwene hates the a’dam enough that she might just insist on freeing every Sister from such a fate, even Elaida.

Squatch being cute.
Squatch being cute.

Other Tidbits:

Verin describes the ritual for becoming Balck Ajah as rather singular. *shiver* I just want to say that is messed up and that maybe becoming Black Ajah isn’t for the faint of heart.

But where are the rest of those specialized assassins? How long do they live again? Could they still be creeping around?

OK, I know this was in this section, but I felt I had asked one two many questions as it was. The last chapter is Rand getting ready to leave Bander Eban in Arad Doman. The Sea Folk ships have arrived and all the food is spoiled, every last bit. He has to walk away leaving all these starving people. And…. well, he was right. He had done everything he could. Arad Doman and the Merchant’s Council needs to pull their own weight and try to save their people and themselves. The world may be ending and Rand has the big chore of saving the known world. It would be great if a few more folks stepped up and took a few items off his to-do list.

8 thoughts on “The Gathering Storm, Part VI”

  1. 1. I happen to know exactly what is in Verin’s letter, so I won’t go into specifics. But it’s certainly one of those things she had still to do, but had left instructions to be seen to in case she didn’t return, which we now know, she will not. And given her inside knowledge it might be prudent for Mat to OPEN THE DAMN LETTER PLEASE.

    Mat is good for his word, so he will definitely hold to the deal, but that doesn’t mean he will actually open it. He’s quite capable of hanging out for however long it was to avoid that.

    2. I wonder if Tuon overestimates the connection between Rand and the White Tower. Surely Rand will not be pleased, or to be more precise, good old Rand would not have been pleased. Who knows what the current Rand might think. If he’s considering sacrificing Lan for an advantage, then he might do the same with the White Tower if he can justify it logically, somehow. But all that considered, there’s no formal alliance between the White Tower and Rand, and it doesn’t seem like Tuon knows that.

    3. You’re not alone in needing a body. Let me just say, though, that we all had the same thoughts at the end of book seven, when Sammael died, and he hasn’t turned up yet, and in fact Robert Jordan explicitly told fans at some point that he was 100% dead, after he been wearied sufficiently by all the questions. So it’s possible that Greandal is dead…

    I don’t expect Nynaeve to carry a grudge, not only because it’s the end of days and that would be silly, but also because she recognizes that this is Rand’s suffering and not him actively being evil or anything like that.

    4. We’ll see quite soon. But… it’s not Perrin they need. 😉

    5. Ah, Verin is such a great character. The WoT FAQ has a great page on her and everything she’s done so far that has been out of the ordinary.

    – She lied in book two, saying that Moiraine sent her. We knew that already.
    – She held back Corianin Nedeal’s notes from Egwene in book three.
    – She misled Perrin as to the nature of their visit in the Two Rivers.
    – She knows who Lord Luc is/was, but warned nobody about him.
    – Only Ishamael, Lanfear and Verin have referred to Perrin’s choice of hammer or axe.
    – She was deep in conversation with Barthanes, a darkfriend, in book two.
    – Moiraine told Rand in her farewell letter not to trust Verin.
    – Verin indicates to Rand in book two that damane might feel a man channeling, even though she should know that is impossible.

    So she was quite hotly debated before this book came out.

    http://wotfaq.dragonmount.com/node/88 “Verin – Black, Brown, Or Purple?” (No spoilers, I checked.)

    And additionally, let’s not forget that not only did she sacrifice her life, but also (given everything we know about death and the Dark One), apparently condemned herself to whatever gruesomeness goes on in the death realm for Darkfriends who not only failed but also betrayed the Great Lord, for heaven knows how long (a full turning of the Wheel?)

    6. Really a great couple of chapters. When I read it the first time, and came to the part where A-whatever her name is (I keep wanting to write Aludra) was freed and turned around and saw her, I just had to reread that paragraph a few times. I also loved that the novices held their own.

    Egwene was totally badass. Between this, the dinner party earlier, and even some more awesomeness coming up next week, I think Egwene’s arc in book twelve is my single favourite character and book pair.

    I can totally understand Siuan, Bryne and Gawyn darting in and getting her in spite of her express wishes. I hope she won’t be too hard on them.

    7. Even with all of Egwene’s efforts, I don’t think this will come out anything other than a victory for the Seanchan. Even Egwene thinks so: “The White Tower would now come out ahead in this battle.”

    Egwene will probably react poorly. She’s not wrong… if she could have remained behind and showed leadership after the attack, she might have ended the division right then and there. Then again, it might not be so bad. Since Elaida is missing, a new Amyrlin must be chosen, and the list of potential candidates is dreadfully short. Maybe we will see a rapid reunification after all?

    1. I wanted Mat to open the damn letter ever since Egwene walked into her room to a Verin drinking tea.

      Good point about Sammael. I guess we can’t have bodies all over the place all the time.

      The Purple Verin, in the life hereafter, suffering at the hands of the Dark One and his minions….and being completely analytical about it, taking notes, comparing one experience to another.

    2. 1. Are you suggesting that Mat might stick to the very letter of his agreement, rather than the spirit of it? 😀

      Personally, I would be to damned nosy to leave the letter unopened.

      2. True: she simply assumes that he rules over the whole land whilst we know that his relationship with the Tower is ‘complicated’. I am not sure how Rand will react, although I predict that he will be annoyed by the destruction of some very useful weapons in a pointless scuffle.

      3. True, but with Sammael we didn’t have any “evidence” of his demise. Something about the whole “she must be dead because the Compulsion is gone” thing seems a little too convenient for me. Perhaps I am just suspicious . . . but it seems like an opening for a Big Reveal later.

      4. But someone travelling with Perrin’s army??

      5. She has been a problem for so long that it was a relief to finally learn her true allegiance, even if it was complicated.

      6. You are so right to remark on the usefulness of the Novices: yet another reason for the Tower to examine its procedures in the light of the coming War.

      7. Perhaps Egwene could have grabbed control in the aftermath, but considering that she was virtually unconscious I suspect that she was much more likely to have an unfortunate accident courtesy of one of the nasty Reds or the Seanchan assassins. The Hall is going to chose her as the new Amyrlin anyway: there is far too much evidence that she is perfect for the job.

  2. Yeah, you gotta love Nynaeve. Despite all her feminism and at times out-right hypocrisy, she has a good heart. She just has a whole lot of personality. That’s why I love her.

    I agree that leaving Bandar Eban was the right thing for Rand to do. Especially if he doesn’t survive the Last Battle (and he’s pretty sure he won’t) they won’t be able to rely on him forever. They have to take control of their own country again.

    As for Egwene, I honestly don’t remember how it all plays out, but with Elaida gone, it’s the perfect time for her to step in and take her rightful place. Here’s hoping! 😀

    1. It was tough to watch Rand walk away from Bandar Eban, mostly because he tried so hard to help these folks and it failed. But most of the population of the known world will have to learn to help themselves (if they aren’t already doing so). Rand can’t carry it all, even with the awesome entourage he has.

      1. You are so right: it is time for the leaders to actually earn their people’s support. We are seeing some do this, but the Merchants seem like a bunch of self-serving idiots . . . hopefully the Domani will revolt and sort their country out for themselves.

  3. 1. I have to agree: either she is playing a dastardly deep game, or she has left information that will be vital to someone’s survival.

    Mat is certainly a perverse character, in that he often refuses to do things simply because he has been told to do them, but I suspect that he will give in eventually and read the letter.

    2. Oh yes: it is piled high and deep for her at the moment! 😀

    3. We had a similar situation with Sammael, and he hasn’t reappeared so far, but he was incredibly stupid in comparison to Graendal, so I agree: no body is very suspicious to me.

    You make a good point about hating the action and not the man. At the moment, Nynaeve is the only Aes Sedai that Rand trusts implicitly, so it is vital that she doesn’t alienate him.

    4. I suspect that they are not sure that Nynaeve will agree with their plan for some reason. As she knows the lads better than anyone else in their camp this seems remarkably short-sighted to me: who else will have a better idea of how they will react to a situation?

    I think Nynaeve is also coming to understand the same thing as Min, which is mind blowing, given her self-absorption and general assumption that she is always right. I think that Sorilea and Cadsuane both suffer from their great age and long history of command: they have almost forgotten what it is for them to be wrong.

    5. Yep, it was fairly obvious that she was Black or Blackish somehow, but she never seemed to do anything obviously evil so I was somewhat confused by her.

    I’m not sure that you can right down descriptions of Weaves, but they would be very useful if she could.

    6. Egwene totally rocked this section: badassness personified! 😀

    Prepare to vomit: I am fairly certain that Bryne is going to demand that Siuan become his wife!!! 😀

    7. I can’t imagine that Tuon will be too happy with the outcome, though Elaida is a great prize . . . especially as she knows how to Travel . . .

    I hope that nobody suggests an attempt to rescue Elaida. I suspect that there will be very few people sorry to see her departure, so we can hope that she is quietly forgotten.

    Yep, creepy assassins are going to keep popping up for a little while to come . . . 🙁

    The suggestion was that Rand’s ta’veren influence had made the spoilage much worse, so leaving could be a great idea. But, as you say, what more can the poor guy do?

    1. I think that Nynaeve steadfastly standing by not only Rand, but all the Two Rivers characters, is an integral part of her character. and of course, it speaks well of her in Rand’s mind – which is getting more and more muddled of late.

      Good point about writing down Weaves. Maybe kind of like writing down sign language? Hmmm…..But that still wouldn’t seem to cover all the intricacies. So I guess we will need living Aes Sedai and Asha’men forever and ever to keep teaching the next generation.

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