Knife of Dreams, Part VIII

JordanKnifeOfDreamsBannerWelcome everyone to Book 11 of The Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan. You can find the schedule to Knife of Dreams over HERE. Everyone is welcome to join us!

This week, Sue at Coffee, Cookies, & Chili Peppers, a place for deft reasoning, is our host. Make sure to check out Liesel’s at Musings on Fantasia, home of the cool non-spoilery fan art. Eivind, our WoT encyclopedia, can be found in the comments over at Sue’s.

This week, we covered Chapters 32-End. Spoilers run rampant for this section and all previous books below!

1) As we predicted, Birgitte was left to rescue Elayne from certain maiming at the hands of the evil Black Sisters. Were you surprised by her solution to Elayne’s capture? What did you think of the way that she manipulated the Windfinders: do you see this causing problems for Elayne in the future?

While I didn’t not even think of the Windfinders as a solution to the captured-once-again Elayne, it makes total sense. Birgitte had to use the resources she had on hand and with the Aes Sedai out of the picture, that left the Windfinders and the Warders.

I expect there will be some initial uproar about being tricked/forced into the fray, but by the time we reach Tarmon Guidon I believe the Windfinders will have realized that they can’t simply sit this one out on their sea ships.

I would be more worried that Elayne’s closest advisers and those that will make up her government will see her as a rash idiot.

2) Arymilla is defeated and Elayne is suddenly alone in her claim to the Lion Throne. Did you expect a more difficult fight for the Far Madding Gate, or did you think that Arymilla’s plan was doomed to fail? What did you think of Elayne’s assessment of Sylvase Caeren: did Lord Nasin’s sudden incapacity surprise you at all?

Since there was this underlying dissension to Arymilla’s forces, I didn’t expect her plan to work. When Elayne was captured, I thought briefly that Arymilla might give her a good fight for the throne, but then Birgitte stepped in and sorted it all out with a forceful hand.

I thought Lord Nasin and this ‘daft’ granddaughter (or niece?) Sylvase were in it together, so I was a little surprised that he was actually removed from the picture. Sylvase seems like a vicious little creature, doesn’t she?

3) We finally get to really meet one of the Ogier Gardeners, who are surprisingly similar to their cousins on this side of the Sea. Were they what you expected or did you expect them to be more violent or aggressive than Loial? What do think that each group of Ogier would think of the other?

Yeah, I expected them to be more militant. We see a little bit that they appreciate hierarchy and proper respect, but I did expect them to be more into warrior codes and warrior way of life.

I think the Randland Ogier are going to be rather upset to meet their Seanchan cousins. After all, they are pretty non-violent unless pressed. They spend most of their time in long-winded talks and deep contemplation. They have taken a much more philosophical approach to life. But this causes problems too as their inaction can lead to death and mayhem just as the Seanchan cousins can bring death and mayhem by blindly following orders.

4) Frankly, I was amazed by the way that Luan and the others capitulated so easily, giving Elayne an uncontested path to the Throne. Were you surprised that we finally saw the resolution of a plotline? Do you think that Ellorien will cause any real trouble, or will she remain loyal to Andor?

Since Arymilla was defeated, the other Houses were looking for an excuse to capitulate. Elayne’s ‘deft’ handling of the ‘invading’ Borderlanders was their excuse. After all, they know that she has some tie to the Dragon Reborn, is a super strong Aes Sedai, is a personal friend to the (contested) Amyrlin Seat, and apparently, has the cooperation of the Windfinders. So, yeah, I would capitulate as soon as I saw a path to do so without losing too much face.

I don’t expect Ellorien to be a problem. I see in this book that several baddies have met their fall from grace and I think this is because we are gearing up for the big challenges. Once the Forsaken and the Dark One start playing hard ball, all the remaining little idiots (for example – Elaida) are going to fall. More and more, folks will realize that Randland must unite, at least temporarily, if there is to be a chance to survive and get back to the constant struggle for world domination.

5) Speaking of resolutions: Mat is married! We knew that it would happen, but how far did your jaw drop when Tuon made her declaration? We learn some of her reasons for saying the words, but do you think that the marriage can survive their positions on opposite sides of the Seanchan invasion?

Even though I really wanted Tuon to say the words this book, I was still surprised when she did it. It wasn’t a romantic moment. It was basically a political move, even if she enjoys kissing him.

Yeah, this is one messed up marriage. Tuon and Mat are on such opposite sides when it comes to the invasion. Tuon believes it is her right to rule Randland, collar all the Channelers, and have everyone be OK with that. Perfectly logical. NOT! And Mat, well, I am totally on his side about this one. Perhaps they can have a long distance relationship? Tuon and the Seanchan can return to Seanchanland where Tuon can rule and enslave people and have everyone be OK with that. Nat can be Rand’s wingman at his wedding to the ladies after Tarmon Guidon.

6) Suroth’s treachery is revealed and Tuon takes direct control of the Return. Did you expect Suroth to be removed so easily? Do you think that the remaining Seanchan nobility, such as Galgan, are loyal to Tuon or do you suspect that further Darkfriends are lurking in their ranks?

No, I didn’t expect Suroth to be that easy to remove. Despite her Darkfriend taint, she seems to still have this Seanchan hierarchy in her blood and can’t so easily, nor openly, break free of it. I expect there are further dissenters, even Darkfriends, among the ranks. How can there not be? Some will surely want to return home and salvage what they can. Others just want to grab power for themselves and see this invasion as a way to do so.

7) Taim ‘welcomes’ a delegation of Reds looking to find Warders. Does Taim’s demeanor, trappings and attitude give you any hint that he might NOT be a Very Bad Man? Do you expect the Red Sisters to leave the Black Tower alive and will any asha’man agree to Bonding?

Ooo! This is a very bad thing indeed. Logain and his crew have bonded sisters, but they are not evil like Taim. If Taim and his like-minded asha’men have bonded aes sedai (because I totally expect Taim to turn the tables and forcibly bond the ladies to his trusted men), then Taim has that much more power for taking out whoever he sets his eyes on. I think he has been glaring at Rand for the past 4 books, so if I was Rand, I would be concerned.

Other Tidbits:

I thought it interesting that Elayne and Birgitte and the rest of the ‘adults’ all have this idea in their heads about what age is appropriate for a young ruler to join in battle. No one likes having kids killed in battle, but sooner or later, everyone is going to be involved in the fracas, right?

Ogiers can be hurt by name calling – makes their ears droop. Poor things.

Knife of Dreams, Part VII

JordanKnifeOfDreamsBannerWelcome everyone to Book 11 of The Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan. You can find the schedule to Knife of Dreams over HERE. Everyone is welcome to join us!

This week, Liesel’s at Musings on Fantasia, home of the cool non-spoilery fan art, is our host. Eivind, our WoT encyclopedia, can be found in the comments over there. Check out Sue’s post at Coffee, Cookies, & Chili Peppers for insights and deft reasoning and.

This week, we covered Chapters 27-31. Spoilers run rampant for this section and all previous books below!

1) Why do you think Semirhage’s disguise of the Power failed? Did you see the Rand-losing-his-hand thing coming?

I am guessing that one of Cadsuane’s angreals counteracted the glamor. Cadsuane was there for that scene, right? Or am I just making that up? I guess there could be some innate power about Rand that allows him or Lews Therin to see through glamors. It wouldn’t be the first time that some character suddenly sprung a new ability as they gain in power.

I did not see Rand losing his hand at all. That completely surprised me. We haven’t had any of our main characters so permanently and detrimentally wounded before. Yes, Rand does have those irritating never-healing wounds in his side, but they don’t slow him down. Mat has that scar on his neck, but it just gives him an excuse to wear lacy scarves. Thom has a limp, but not bad. Perrin lost his family to Trollocs (which was harsh and he is definitely emotionally scarred from that), but again, he isn’t physically hindered. So, yes, I was quite surprised.

2) Do you think Mat’s plan against the Seanchan is a good one? Will it turn the tide?

I really am not sure if it is a good one. Tuon seems to think he is a lion in the field, and I expect she was trained in military tactics. Mat’s military leaders also think he is pretty hot shit in the field, so that bodes well too. But I think Tuon and her actions/orders to the Seanchan army are going to way in heavily on the outcome. Even if Mat totally rules the battlefield, there will be another battle, and another battle, etc. The Seanchan don’t really have a motto that allows them to retreat or surrender as a whole. Plus, we as the readers know that their homeland is totally screwed. So if they can’t go home, and if they can’t dominate Randland, what choice does that leave them with? I fear it may be fight until the last Seanchan warrior is dead.

3) Tam showed up! (Yea!) What did you think of his reaction to confirmation that Rand is the Dragon Reborn?

Wow! Another thing I wasn’t expecting. And I was a little surprised that Mat put him high up in the pecking order of his army. I know Mat can trust Tam, but Mat hasn’t seen the badass military Tam that we all suspected lurked under that sheepherding, moonshine brewing farmer that we met way back in Book 1.

I think Tam took the news pretty well. But then, he had heard about it before confirming it with Mat so I suspect he had plenty of time to go through all the emotions.

4) Masema shows up at an inconvenient time to (somewhat) ruin Perrin’s plans. What do you think he’s doing? What’s his endgame?

I think Masema was confirming with his own eyes how ‘evil’ Perrin is by working with Channelers, etc. But I also suspect he was giving final instructions to Aram (see next question).

If crazy Masema has an endgame, I think it is Randland domination via religious fervor. But if he were to ever achieve such a victory, Rand would have to be dead. Hence, Masema would have everyone, including himself, dirnk the Kool-aid to join the Dragon Reborn in some afterlife utopia that caters to crazy mass-murderers.

5) All kinds of crazy stuff in this chapter! Aram tries to kill Perrin and dies himself. Tylee captures Sevanna. And Galina ends up in Therava’s clutches, headed for the Waste. What did you think  of all these twists? Did you wish for other outcomes? How do you think they’ll affect the story going forward?

I was pretty sad to see Aram go in the way he did. I thought he would go out in the fight protecting Rand or someone else in some senseless act of heroism that would torture Perrin’s soul forever. Nope, instead he turns on Perrin, per Masema’s influence, and tries to kill him. Is it just me, or has there been an undercurrent of bromance going on for several books (Aram digging on Perrin, though Perrin is totally oblivious to this)?

I was very satisfied with Sevanna being captured and lugged around as a trophy across Tylee’s pommel having her ass slapped. Originally, I had hoped someone would kill Galina, but her punishment is ever so much better. She gets to live, but it is not the life she wanted at all. Haha! I wish there was a side story about her life of drudgery.

I think that Aram’s death will affect Perrin’s psyche going forward, of course.

6) Elayne encounters some black Sisters and, in her haste, ends up in hot water. We had a cliffhanger on this. What do you think will happen next? Were you surprised that it was actually Careanne that was Black Ajah, contrary to Elayne’s suspicions?

Elayne may be an efficient administrator for a country, but she sucks at espionage, battle, and winning her throne. She already owes Rand a very big kiss for keeping her throne warm for her. Now she needs saving. Rand might have to do it, but he just suffered a nasty injury and has his own worries. So maybe Brigitte and crew can save her? Did all of Elayne’s aes sedai get captured in this folly or are there more that Brigitte can call upon? There’s the Warders, so they might be able to pull it off. Either way, Elayne is going to owe her life and possibly her throne to someone else, again.

Quite frankly, the cast of characters in the Black Ajah/suspected Black Ajah category have run together for me. So I wasn’t particularly surprised, but then I was just going with the story, not having made up an opinion on it.

Other Tidbits:

I get that Min is doing a lot of keep Rand human and connected to the human race, but should she really be on the front lines of what turned out to be a nasty fight? While I respect her knife skills, that’s all she’s got going for her in a fight and this one had one of the biggest, nastiest Forsaken of them all.

Why didn’t Faile & crew pack water for their escape? Why didn’t they have a bit of water to drink before they became trapped? Of course, we couldn’t have Megden drinking the forkroot, but it nagged at me a little.

Didn’t anyone else shed a little tear for the lost Rolan?

Knife of Dreams, Part VI

JordanKnifeOfDreamsBannerWelcome everyone to Book 11 of The Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan. You can find the schedule to Knife of Dreams over HERE. Everyone is welcome to join us!

This week, I am your host. Eivind, our WoT encyclopedia, can be found in the comments. Check out Sue’s post at Coffee, Cookies, & Chili Peppers for insights and deft resoning and Liesel’s at Musings on Fantasia, cool non-spoilery fan art.

This week, we covered Chapters 24-26. Spoilers run rampant for this section and all previous books below!

1) Egwene is holding strong in the Tower. Have you had a similar experience to her revelation about embracing the pain?

I have found that injuries incurred through honest farm work, such as working with the goats or donkeys, is far easier to tolerate than, say, stubbing my toe on a chair leg. If I have some work to show for the injury/pain, then I am better at handling it. Unless I am very tired. Then I can be a bit of a bitch/cry baby over it. I am glad that Egwene is getting healing each day so that her injuries do not become semi-permanent disabilities.

2) Egwene seems to be hoping for a mutiny from within the Tower. Do you think this will happen? If so, is it more likely to start with the initiates or with the Aes Sedai closest to Elaida?

Yes, I think we are looking to enjoy a mutiny in the near future. However, this might be coupled with the Seanchan invasion that Egwene dreamed about it. In such chaos, it would be easy for the mutineers to feel that they had an advantage in tossing out Elaida and electing Egwene to speak for the Aes Sedai with the invading force.

In some ways, the mutiny has already started, and it started with the initiates. They are treating Egwene with preference, providing a battered pillow for her and honeyed tea. So I expect that they will lead the way and other Aes Sedai will fall in line.

3) Egwene hears that Aes Sedai have been bonded to Asha’men and that some Aes Sedai have sworn oaths to Rand. What did you make of her reaction that it is inappropriate (at the least) for Aes Sedai to swear oaths to any man?

Haha! Egwene would be in a red fury if someone changed things around and said that such and such male group should never, ever be expected to swear an oath to any woman, no matter how powerful or competent. Sexism, it works both ways no matter what set of genitals you got.

4) We spent a little time in Tuon’s head this reading. What surprised you the most? Did you find Tuon’s reaction to her first kiss amusing?

So much here. First, she really expects to some day rule all of Randland (haha!) and she expects to collar all the Channelers (hahahahahhahahahahahaha!). Obviously, this woman hasn’t been paying much attention to customs of the folks around her nor to the news of the land she walks.

Then she was unfamiliar with the idea of ta’veren, not having an equivalent in her culture, and merely blew it off as superstition, while failing to see her bird readings as (possibly) superstitious.

Part of my thinks Tuon is a good match for Mat (physically capable of fending for herself, just as bullheaded if not more), but then she has these ideas about enslaving a good chunk of the population. Mat definitely has his work cut out for him.

I was amused that while we know Tuon quite enjoyed the kiss, she managed to make a simple observation about Mat’s potential fever with a straight face. I was giggling to myself over this scene.

5) Grady and the other Asha’men with Perrin are looking pretty haggard, worn out from making gateways to move troops around. Will they hold up for the Shaido fight? And young Aram is also looking pretty haggard, but from some different reason. Is he the weakest link in the forthcoming fight?

Ooo! I am worried about them. We all know that those loyal to the ta’veren tend to push themselves really, really hard. I fear we may see one or more of them burn themselves out in the forthcoming fight. We know that Stilling can be healed, to some degree. Can burn out be healed?

I fear that Aram is working himself up to betraying Perrin in some way. He’s probably wrapping his mind around it, coming up with excuses of why Maesma is right and how Perrin is just mislead. Hence, he has some internal conflict going on and needs to overdrink to cope with it.

6) Play a kissing game with Rolan or meet with Galina in the burned out half of Malden to pass off the Oath Rod….Which would you choose?

I would choose the kissing game. 1) It promises to give me my freedom (either in escape or eventually when I put the white off); and 2) It would be far more pleasant to meeting with Galina (who may or may not betray me). I know there is that whole conflict of being in a committed relationship, but Faile hasn’t trusted Perrin, ever, around Berelain. So if Faile truly believes that crap, then she ‘knows’ she isn’t in a monogamous committed relationship anyway. Additionally, I think Faile would be far more appreciative of Perrin and his commitment (in spite of sexy women just throwing themselves at him) if she did a little kissing while in this extraordinary circumstance.

Other Tidbits:

Loved Egwene’s little chat with Mattin Stepaneos about how just how many leaders the Dragon Reborn had actually killed.

Alviarin seems desperate to gain Egwene’s confidence. Of course, we all know why, and I very much hope and Egwene continues to hold her tongue around her.

Knife of Dreams, Part V

JordanKnifeOfDreamsBannerWelcome everyone to Book 11 of The Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan. You can find the schedule to Knife of Dreams over HERE. Everyone is welcome to join us!

This week, Eivind, our WoT encyclopedia,  is our host and can be found in the comments. Check out Sue’s post at Coffee, Cookies, & Chili Peppers and Liesel’s at Musings on Fantasia, cool non-spoilery fan art.

This week, we covered Chapters 19-23. Spoilers run rampant for this section and all previous books below!

1. Our favorite Origer bachelor is finally married.  Any wise words for the newlyweds?  The Ogier are torn on whether to leave this world or help humanity out.  Do you think Loial will be able to sway them?

My wise (ass) words to Erith would be to keep Loial stocked in good traveling clothes and scribing materials and to perhaps travel often with Loial just to avoid regular conflict with her mother-in-law. Of course my words of wisdom to Loial would be to let Erith think all the traveling is her idea.

Once again, I am reminded of Tolkien’s Ents, and their Entmoot where they take a very long time deciding on whether or not to help out the hasty humans, elves, dwarves, and humans. Knowing how that turned out, and also suspecting that the Dark One won’t leave the Steadings & Ogier alone, I think the Ogier will eventually fight evil rather than flee.

And I hope that Loial will be able to sway them sooner rather than simply walk away to join Rand at the Last Battle and have Ogier decide that is much more exciting than any Ogier business and join him later. Though I suspect that Covril or Erith may have a hand in persuading the Ogier, even if it means shaming them into caring about this world.

2. It’s been a while since the last surprise trolloc attack.  Who could have been behind this one?  Why now, and why so incredibly many?  Lews Therin took control of Rand’s channeling.  Will we see that again, and what kind of consequences might it have?

I wasn’t expecting a massive trolloc attack on the heals of an Ogier wedding!

Since the Dark One and Moridin want to keep Rand alive for now, I don’t think they were behind this attack. No, my eye turned toward Mazrim Taim. After all, if Rand, Logain, and a bunch of their closest followers fell in a trolloc attack, he could reign supreme (at least until the Dark One had him bale fired). Of course, this would mean that he has a hotline into a Forsaken who wants Rand dead now (as I don’t think Taim has been given command of so many myrrdraal). Taim would guesstimate that it would take oodles of myrrdraal and oodles X 20 to take out both Rand and Logain. Good for him that he miscalculated.

In this case, it was a very good thing that Lews took over the channeling and saved the day. But Lews isn’t the most stable Channeler out there, so I can see him losing it in a moment of disturbed surprise or intense anger and wiping out half of Rand’s army. Rand seriously needs to lock that shit down. Perhaps this is what Cadsuane needs to teach Rand, but first he would need to trust her enough to 1) confide in her about Lews and 2) Allow her to guide him, perhaps even entering his dreams or thoughts for a short time to do so. Good thing she is such a snuggable motherly type woman that Rand could so easily learn to trust. Not!

3. Lan departs to fight his own war, but Nynaeve won’t let him do it alone.  Any thoughts on the actions of either?  Any chills during the scene in the inn?

And yet for the third time during 1 reading session, I was surprised! I know that Lan has had a death wish since he learned he was the last Malkiri King, and that it intensified when Moiraine disappeared through that door angreal, but he really is a dense idiot sometimes. First, he can’t hold some pass in the north against hordes of trollocs and myrrdraal BY HIMSELF, no matter how good he is, no matter the terrain. So wrapping his suicidal inclinations up in honor and duty and heroics isn’t going to fool anyone in that scenario. Two, thinking that Nynaeve would simply let him do so is silly. She owns him now. Yep. You can put the love spin on it if you wish (and I do believe she does love him), but she is very, very possessive too. His life is now hers and she won’t be tossing it away.

And I was a bit surprised that Nynaeve was grown up enough to let Lan go and do his duty. I was also quite pleased to see her spreading the word near and far, calling in men to join Lan. Essentially, it’s like organizing a big party on sheep butchering day back in Two Rivers. Nynaeve is definitely the one to organize such an affair.

4. Rand again works his ta’veren magic and the rebellion in Tear is no more.  Darlin, who was a rebel not four books ago, is king.  Do you think he has sufficiently demonstrated his loyalty, or are you worried?  Rand is focusing on Arad Doman.  What do you think his plan there is?

We just saw Rand and his entourage take out thousands of trollocs and several dozen to a few hundred myrrdraal. If Darlin hasn’t heard about that yet, he will soon. So if he is planning any kind of subterfuge now, he will probably reconsider upon hearing that tale. So, no I am not particularly worried. Plus, he also was privy to seeing Cadsuane call Rand on his rude manners, so he knows he can be both pushed and reigned in without exploding. So it is unlikely that Darlin will decide to rebel ‘for the sake of the realm and to save his people from the mad Dragon reborn’.

I don’t know what Rand is planning in Arad Doman. Would he be leaving certain Waygates open to kind of channel where the trollocs turn up?

I think Eivind mentioned this in the last two weeks, that Robert Jordan had only planned 12 books and so he was trying to wind up some things in this book so that all could be tied off in the next book, right? But for us, we could have to wait to Book 14 to find out what goes down in Arad Doman.

5. The Sea Folk have chosen a new Mistress of the Ships and are being conscripted for the Arad Doman plan.  Meanwhile, a whole race of islanders commit suicide!  Where on Earth did that come from? Will it have any impact at all or is it just one of those… things?

I think the mass suicide was balance that Rand was contemplating earlier when he rode through town and the man fell out of a balcony onto his feet instead of his head, etc. Min says that for every evil, there is a good, while Rand takes the pessimistic opposite. Perhaps this mass suicide was the balance for all those who escaped Ebou Dar.

I expect it will sadden Rand when he hears of it, but I don’t expect any major ripples from it. I think it will just be another of those things that Jordan throws in to give the world depth.

6. An important sitting is called and the rebel Aes Sedai finally learn some important news (Saidin is clean, and they’ve been harboring a Saidin-channeling female forsaken for six books).  Are you happy that Halima was rooted out?  Sad that they weren’t caught?  Will they rethink their Asha’man policy now?

There was a lot of great stuff in this section. Being carried around in Ramanda’s head was interesting (romance adventure novels! prudish about ankles and boobs! set in her ways despite evidence to the contrary, especially concerning the new elderly novices, etc.).

I have been taken an impish glee in shocking the Aes Sedai. And I expect I am not alone in this. I really enjoyed the reactions to the Asha’man, and the announcements about bonding, both the offering up of Asha’men to be bonded and the fact that silly Sisters were already bonded to Asha’men.

I was surprised that Ramanda put it together first and called out Halima. Since Halima is a Forsaken in disguise, I figured that she wouldn’t be caught yet. Though I think it might have been pretty spectacular to have her fight an entire encampment of Aes Sedai.

Some of the Sisters are already moving along and not living in the past (cool with getting rid of the age limit on entering the Tower, etc.), and I think most of them will come to treat the Asha’men as equals in time. However, we will always have some sticklers like Ramanda and they will make it that much harder to prep for and win the Last Battle.

Other Tidbits:

That was a swift, simple wedding and I totally didn’t expect it. I wonder what does happen when you fondle an Ogier ear? And if they pierce their ears, is that the same as in humans piercing their nipples?

Lews Therin is starting to make some sense to me and I think I like the chap well enough to buy him a pint of beer: Only those who trust no one are truly insane (paraphrased).

Is it just me or is Nynaeve becoming some sort of a prude in her ‘old’ married life? What was that interesting dress she wore in the circus in which she met Masema?

I loved watching Logain stroll in and chat with the Sea Folk, calling them to pay service to the Dragon Reborn. And with the end of the world just around the corner, I think he is right to hold them to it even in their grief.

Knife of Dreams, Part III

JordanKnifeOfDreamsBannerWelcome everyone to Book 11 of The Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan. You can find the schedule to Knife of Dreams over HERE. Everyone is welcome to join us!

This week, Liesel at Musings on Fantasia, cool non-spoilery fan art, is your host. And you can probably find Eivind (walking WoT encyclopedia) over there in the comments. And hop on over to Sue’s Coffee, Cookies, & Chili Peppers for some great deductive reasoning skills in calculating how things will fall out with the plot.

For the third week in a row, I am a bit late posting. But this time I have a SUPER GREAT reason (as opposed to the flood and the sinus infection of the previous 2 weeks) – I was at Bubonicon 46! Hooray!

This week, we covered Chapters 8-12. Spoilers run rampant for this section and all previous books below!

1) We finally get more details on Aludra’s plans with the elusive bell founders and all. Do you see this plan succeeding? What will it mean for the Last Battle? How will it play out?

Back when we first heard about Aludra’s plans (2 books back?), I thought her super secret weapon (which I expect will turn out to be canons) were to be used against the Seanchan. But here we are, on the road with the circus, and we still don’t have canon. Much to my dismay, we haven’t fired them yet. I do enjoy my weapons.

So it is becoming clearer that Aludra is simply doing this for the shear joy of it. I think she and I could be friends. Good friends. Friends who enjoy the firing range for hours at a time and then go sit around the campfire afterward drinking and talking about the firing range.

But to answer the question, because that is why we are all here, yes, I do expect Aludra’s plan to work and for us to have canons for the Last Battle. And I expect this will give the Last Battle a slightly steampunk feel to it, which Brandon Sanderson will write beautifully and it won’t freak out any of the genre purists.

2) Mistress Anan finally reveals some of her past. Were you surprised by anything she said?

I think I stopped being surprised by things in WoT when Moiraine took Lanfear into the angreal doorway. If Jordan can do that to 2 of his most important characters, then he can do anything (and most of the time make it believable and entertaining). As with so many of the characters in this series, Mistress Anan has a past. This is one of those things Jordan does very well – even his minor characters have a past. Even if Jordan never pulls on the past for a particular character, he has done it for any number of other minor characters. So here we are, Book 11, and I have to assume that any character that walks onto the stage does have a past and that it may be crucial to some plot point later. Basically, Jordan made it so i can’t dismiss any of the characters as mere window dressing.

That ramble said, I would like to know what more Anan knows about angreal and the fox/elfish people that Mat ran into. I was thinking that Anan was a senior Kin woman, but can’t recall if she was ever explicitly called so. She knows plenty about Aes Sedai, weaves, the power, and angreal.

3) We saw tons of Mat and Tuon this week. From her snapping a’dam onto Aes Sedai necks to finding out she might have had her siblings assassinated to seeing Suroth’s plan to declare her an impostor and have her killed in action to participating in a knife fight for/with her, Mat had his hands full. Feel free to comment on any part of this story line. What stood out to you, shocked you, delighted you? Where do you think it will go from here? What repercussions will it have?

The a’dam seen with the Aes Sedai made me uncomfortable. First, the Aes Sedai were being high-handed and annoying, but that is all their training will allow them to do in a case like this. Tuon was also being high-handed and annoying by ignoring them, and ignoring the bigger picture of the war, etc. Yet her training as an upcoming imperial ruler wouldn’t let her do anything else.

So when she had her servants snap a’dam on the Aes Sedai, part of me was highly amused – the Aes Sedai who felt they were in the moral right and also felt superior due to their powers all of a sudden found that they had no powers and the ‘moral right’ didn’t matter without the power to back it up. It was nice to see some of the wind knocked out of their sails. And this made me uncomfortable because it came at the cost of slavery.

So now that we have seen this loss of power with the Aes Sedai, and hence they have to approach the problem with a team effort and wits instead of force, I totally expect Jordan to do the same thing to Tuon at some point. How do we ever get the Seanchan to recognize Channelers as full humans? Well, we start with their ruler(s), such as Tuon. And to have Tuon change her core mind on this, there will have to be something drastic – like she will need to be completely helpless without the assistance of Channelers – or better yet, she will have to call down lightning, etc. And if she can Channel, and she is the next Seanchan Imperial ruler, we obviously can’t collar her.

Plus, I expect Mat to point out her inequity at some point in a harsh but loving way and Tuon will have to see how her slavery ideas may loose her the greatest lay she will ever have.

4) A Shiota ghost town makes a rather disturbing appearance in Mat’s life. What do you think was the cause of it, and what does it mean for our characters?

I think this is another one of those Bubbles of Evil things – but with ghosts. And while Mat didn’t have ready arrows to shoot the man and his horses (giving them a quick, easy death), I wonder why no one else in the caravan took car of business. Someone surely had bow & arrows, javelins, stones and sling? These are armed, talented folk. I think it would have been very hard to listen to the horses screaming like that for all those long minutes while they died.

For our main characters, I don’t think it means too much as it is unlikely that any of them will get trapped in a bubble like this and die. It might be that one could wander into a bubble like this and take a while to figure out what was happening and get a good scare out of it before escaping. But I fully expect that they would escape.

5) Apparently Mat, Thom, and Noal might be setting out to rescue Moiraine. Were you surprised by this, or by what was finally revealed to be in her letter to Thom? Do you think they can succeed?

I think I am most intrigued by the ‘Dearest Thom’ part. Dearest? Hmmm…..Past sexytimes?

We have known for a book or 2 now that Lanfear wasn’t dead, so it was quite easy to suspect that Moiraine was not dead either. And I was pleasantly surprised to learn that those fox/elfish people are holding her because they are super intriguing and of course I want some of our heroes to go to their house and raise a ruckus.

Jordan has wrapped these people in dangers and unknowns, so a lot can happen. Truth to tell, I do worry about everyone except Mat and Moiraine. We need those two to come out of this in order to move the plot forward. Thom or Noal could die or be trapped there, which would be tragic and sad, but the plot could still move forward. I suspect that Noal still has some critical part to play in the plot – but I can’t say if that is in freeing Moiraine, or in the Last Battle. So perhaps Thom will have to be the one to fall in this quest.

6) Someone tried to assassinate Perrin. Who do you think it was and why? What do you think of how things are going with his alliance with the Seanchan? Will their forkroot plan work?

Did Moiridin order his underlings to take out Mat and Perrin? And since a lot of folks know where Perrin is, he is the logical first target. I think Moiridin is behind this as he could instill the right amount of fear to have failures poison themselves.

So far, I think Perrin is doing fairly well with the Seanchan. He is straight forward, which they can appreciate, and they are starting to trust him a little bit; this shows in that they fill him in on his social faux pas.

Yes, I expect the forkroot plan to work and for Faile and Perrin to be reunited. Initially, there will be lots of sparks, hugs, kisses, and sexytimes. But then Faile will here the naughty rumors about Perrin and Berelain and she will go back to the jealous dunce we all know and bemoan.

Other Tidbits:

Which Aes Sedai was tossing dirt clods and crap at Mat, via the power? Naughty, naughty!

Nolan was so ready to take on Tuon and her servants when the Aes Sedai were collared. Very, very interesting!

I love the Seanchan hairstyles – and how they freak out the Randlanders (just a little).

Knife of Dreams, Part II

JordanKnifeOfDreamsBannerWelcome everyone to Book 11 of The Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan. You can find the schedule to Knife of Dreams over HERE. Everyone is welcome to join us!

This week, I am your host. Make sure to catch Eivind in the comments. Make sure to swing by Liesel’s Musings on Fantasia for cool non-spoilery fan art and hop on over to Sue’s Coffee, Cookies, & Chili Peppers for some great deductive reasoning skills in calculating how things will fall out with the plot.

For the second week in a row, I am a bit late posting. This week, I blame a sinus infection that has me in a frustrating amount of pain. the headache is killer!

This week, we covered Chapters 2-7. Spoilers run rampant for this section and all previous books below!

1) Beonin, Ashmanaille, & Phaedrine chat about theories on who the channeling male murderer is. Did you enjoy Beonin’s logic? Do you think other Aes Sedai are drawing the same conclusions? Will such assumptions and conclusions hinder Rand’s plans in preparing for the Last Battle?

The Aes Sedai seem pretty bent on laying these murders at Rand’s feet. In the end, I fear this will allow Halima to go undetected for a great length of time and allow him/her to wreak some major havoc later on.

And why do none of these Aes Sedai think outside the box? Has the traditional White Tower ruined the collective thinking power of a whole generation of Aes Sedai?

And of course, I do fear that these assumptions will come to hinder Rand’s plans, like he needs any more hindering with the constant war her has going on inside himself.

2) Elaida had thought to show the world her power by snatching a monarch in the night and she plans to show even greater power by putting that monarch back on his royal seat. Do you think Mattin Stepaneos, king of Illian, will be cooperative? What other setbacks to Elaida’s plan can you predict?

I expect Mattin to be cooperative to a point – like that point in which he once again sits a throne. Then I expect he will throw it back in Elaida’s teeth and the White Tower will take another hit in reputation. Egwene is going to have tons of community outreach to do once she takes over.

And of course I expect many other rulers will no longer welcome Aes Sedai to their throne rooms after this, expecting (or fearing) such blatant betrayal of all common courtesy. People won’t cower before Elaida; instead, they will be hiring hitmen to take her out.

3) Once again the Forsaken get together for a tickle and tell dinner party. We saw some new technology on display. Do you think we will see further advanced tech and in more prominent use as the series continues? Do you think Moiridin can keep them all in line?

For several books now, there have been hints and some small demonstrations of advanced tech. However, I expect Jordan will keep that low key for the entire series, as this is primarily a fantasy series, not scifi/fantasy. While genre boundaries don’t matter as much these days (thank goodness), they were in full use when this series started. Hence, due to fan base expectations, I doubt the publisher would be OK with a storyline veering away from the core fantasy genre.

Some of the Forsaken are already plotting to kill Moiridin. The Forsaken have not struck me as particularly bright, but I think that can also be said of Moiridin (who is brutal and a bit crazy). So I doubt he will be able to get them all to do everything he requires of them and he may even be taken out by the Forsaken.

4) Perrin meets with the Seanchan. Were you impressed with his display of martial capability? What about that sulfur stench? Even if this plan goes off without a hitch, do you see continued friendly relationships between Perrin’s forces and the Seanchan?

I loved Perrin’s simple yet elegant display of martial capability. Obviously, the Seanchan came to a swift appreciation for the Two Rivers longbow.

What is up with the Hell Hounds (the source of the sulfur stench)? They seem to be keeping tabs on Perrin, or someone in his group. Like scouts seeking out the target and then reporting back. Of course this has me concerned as no one enjoys tangling with a Hell Hound, let alone a pack of them.

Yes, I expect the Seanchan will continue friendly negotiations with Perrin after Faile is safely back home. For one thing, Perrin is a straight shooter and the Seanchan will learn quickly that they can deal with him openly and honestly. Second, it shoulnd’t be long before the Seanchan in Randland start hearing about the calamity that has struck their homeland; they will need allies.

5) Faile has a lot of decisions to make, and soon. She is determined to escape before Perrin can attempt a rescue; she has the Oath Rod; Galina appears near breaking; and Rolan is still putting flowers in her hair. Will her actions muck up Perrin’s rescue? Will Galina’s duplicity be undone? Will Rolan get even one romantic night, one which will never be spoken of again?

Oh es! I totally expect Faile to muck up Perrin’s plans, potentially getting people injured or killed. I can’t blame her for wanting to escape, but her unhealthy attitude of showing up Perrin is juvenile.

Uh….perhaps I have mentioned before how ridiculous I find Faile’s character?

I am SO looking forward to Galina’s duplicity being caught. But knowing the Aes Sedai, she could very well sneak off in all the mayhem and she won’t have to pay for her actions.

You know, I would be OK with Rolan being granted one night of Faile sexytimes. I think this would mellow Faile considerably towards the women who pursue Perrin. At least, she wouldn’t be able to give Perrin any more shit. Not justly, anyways. Perrin seems to be the kind of guy who would take it for a lifetime.

6) Mat has bought a new horse, razor breed, and given Tuon a pet name (Precious) to counter her little pet name for him (Toy). And then we learn that Noal is related to Jain Farstrider! Guesses as to why Noal has such strong feelings on the adventures of his cousin?

I am guessing that Noal may be Jain Farstrider and decided to dissemble a bit by saying he was his cousin. Noal sure did speak vehemently about Jain going of on adventure and leaving his wife to die alone. Sounds like Noal has major regrets. I can see him being a good guiding force in Mat’s life, if Mat can stop thinking of him as an old harmless idiot.

7) Mat’s little ter’angreal secret is out and the Aes Sedai traveling with the circus are VERY curious. Do you think this will cause a problem later? Bethamin, a former sul’dam, channeled some powerful weave, to her great distress. Could she turn out to be a powerful Aes Sedai in the future?

Once again, I expect the Aes Sedai to pester or outright ‘borrow’ Mat’s ter’angreal for study. And of course, in the very long run, I expect some baddie to eventually hear of this extra protection Mat has and instead of channeling like a good channeler, just go for the throat (which, unfortunately, may actually work).

Yes, I think some of the sul’dam wil prove to be as powerful as the top ranking Aes Sedai, much to the Aes Sedais’ distress. 😉

Other Tidbits:

Beonin spilled all to Elaida! This is a problem. A big one. I feel sorry for Beonin’s Warder who was left in the dark about this one.

Some of the Shaido gai’shain have sought protection in the beds of their captors. I believe there was one brief mention of a woman gai’shain seeking out her female captor’s bed. I truly appreciate the diversity Jordan built in to this series, in so many ways.

Crossroads of Twilight, Part VIII

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This week, your host is Eivind and he can be found in the comments.Make sure to check out Sue and her often insightful answers over at Coffee, Cookies, and Chili Peppers. And catch Liesel at Musings on Fantasia who has the cool fanart.

This week, we cover Chapters 27-END. Spoilers for this section run free below!

1. After letting himself go with the Shaido prisoners, Perrin abandons his axe in the forest, as predicted by Elyas. What do you think of his way of breaking the Aiel? Is this a defining moment for him, and in what ways?

I thought Perrin did really well. It was quicker and more humane than letting the previous methods of torture continue. I think it was the concept of being so crippled and left in a city to beg that broke the Aiel resolve. Also, I believe it showed others (like Masema) that Perrin is insightful, decisive, and quite capable to taking care of business.

Unfortunately, I do think this is a defining moment for Perrin and he has defined it all negative. As much as I really enjoy Perrin, he can be an idiot and he will be an idiot over this one. I can see him moping over his decision to remove a hand in order to gain info, beating himself up over it for the rest of the series (all 4000 pages or so).

And, really, who leaves weapons lying around in the woods during times like this? I hope Aram or Elyas fetched it back for him, just keeping it tucked away until in the heat of battle, Perrin swears up a blue streak for having left his axe behind.

2. Tallanvor suggests to team up with Seanchan to defeat the Shaido. Should Perrin agree? Will he just end up having to rescue people from the Seanchan instead?

As far as we know, the Seanchan only enslave female channelers. So if he sends those ladies off, or keeps them in hiding, teaming up with the Seanchan may work. However, if the Wise Ones refuse to be sidelined, and the Seanchan are arrogant pricks (and we all know they will be) then I expect inviting them to the party will only increase Perrin’s headaches as the Seanchan make a point of enslaving the Wise Ones, and the Aiel retaliating by removing some Seanchan heads. It would be immensely entertaining for me, but I would feel sorry for Perrin (eventually).

3. From the female or male viewpoint, what do you make of Mat’s courtship strategy, and Tuon’s response? Bewildered? (I am!)

Quite frankly, I was very surprised that Mat was so able to change his tactics. After all, most other women have fallen for the jewelry lure.

But, yeah, I am still a bit confused. We know so little about Seanchan customs, let along how they go about courtship and marriage back home. I am guessing that Tuon had to be the first to make a move (since she is of the highest royalty). So direct gifts were an insult. But that final little gift of cloth rose buds, simply set beside the game board, well that left all the decisions in Tuon’s hands. She could have tossed them or given them away. But later she deigns to wear them. I am hoping this is a good sign. I think. Can I root for the Seanchan in this instance?

4. Renna betrays our heroes and Mat is presumably forced to leave the circus. Were you surprised? How happy are you to be rid of Valan Luca?

Mat was going to have to leave the circus sooner or later – I mean he has this part to play in saving the world, right? But I was not expecting Renna to stab Egeanin in the back. I didn’t fully understand what she thought she was gaining by that either. I guess her dedication to the Seanchan way was stronger than her obedience to Egeanin or Tuon (if she realized fully who Tuon is).

And since Mat wasn’t putting on a sparkly, thigh revealing suit and doing a high wire act, I am OK with Mat & crew leaving Valan Luca behind.

5. Egwene’s plan is revealed, and the harbor chains of Tar Valon are now cuendillar. How will this change the siege?

The plan was revealed? Hmm…..Well, OK, I thought we had a small smidgeon revealed. I expect the chains being cuendillar will allow Egwene (or some other Sister) to seal the harbor. Egwene wanted to prevent the boats from going in and out, because they allowed movement of the people inside the tower and restocking of goods. So by blocking the Tower harbor off, there would have to be some sort of attack from the Tower or some sort of surrender from the Tower. Anyway, that is what I was thinking. Did I miss something?

6. Egwene is captured! Should she have sent Bode after all? Is she stupid for having risked herself? Never mind the harbor chains… how will THIS change the war?

Well, yes, Egwene was stupid for having risked herself. But this falls back to that fond phrase, ‘The Wheel weaves as the Wheel wills’. So Egwene had to be on that boat one way or another.

How does this change the siege? Well, it depends on who captured her. If it is Sisters completely disgruntled with Elaida, then Egwene should be fine because they will want to undermine Elaida. If it is Darkfriends or Black Ajah, then Egwene may be in some danger from them directly, but not from Elaida (as the Dark wants to undermine Elaida). If they are Elaida supporters, then Egwene will have to worry about being stilled and possibly executed.

Then Egwene also has to worry about her detractors in her own camp. I expect they will try to wrest control for themselves no matter Egwene’s status inside the harbor. So Egwene will have to work quickly and come out smelling like a rose to remain Amyrlin.

7. Rand will meet the Daughter of the Nine Moons, but we know she’s nowhere to be found (by Suroth, anyway). An obvious trap or just a really obvious trap? What do you expect to happen?

As the reader, I know that Suroth is a Darkfriend and that Tuon has gone missing, so this is such an obvious trap to me. But Rand doesn’t know those two things. I am hoping that the colorful mind-to-mind phone among our ta’veren will start working soon and Mat can tell Rand about Tuon.

But until then, I expect Rand to agree to meet with Suroth and the Daughter of Nine Moons. If that meeting goes down, I expect Rand to escape immediately with minimal blood shed. After all, he can Travel. Unless they have a convenient leash for male channelers. In which case, i expect Rand to be the first ever to break one with his belligerent personality.

While I personally want to see Tuon kill Suroth, I expect that Suroth will be kiled by one of our ta’veren or by the Dark side for incompetence.

Other Tidbits

Mat still doesn’t see his own influence on Olver when it comes to the ladies. This is amusing and distressing at the same time.

Mat pushed their mounts in order to catch Renna, and then pushed himself to order her killed. And yet he returns to Tuon to see that she signed a bit of paper than made the circus and Mat & crew untouchable no matter what Renna told the Seanchan outpost. He had trouble with that……and yet I still want to give him a wake up call. Having a vagina and boobs doesn’t protect you from being killed in war, especially when you stab someone in the back and run off towards the nearest enemy outpost.

Remanda (or is it Remilda? Anyway, the high & mighty snot whose name starts with an R) didn’t take the news about the Oathrod and longevity very well. I thought Egwene had a strong argument – it would keep the Kin tied to the Tower but also give the Sisters a reasonable retirement option.

Crossroads of Twilight, Part VII

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And the WoT Quad returns with Book 10, Crossroads of Twilight! If any of you silent stalkers want to join us, you are always welcome to. You can leave me a comment or email me (nrlymrtl [at] gmail [dot] com) to get on the weekly email of the discussion questions. Check out the schedule.

This week, your host is Sue and her often insightful answers over at Coffee, Cookies, and Chili Peppers. Make sure to catch Liesel at Musings on Fantasia who has the cool fanart.  Eivind, our keeper of esoteric WoT knowledge, can be found in the comments over at Sue’s.

This week, we cover Chapters 21-26. Spoilers for this section run free below!

1. I am sure that we are all so sorry for Alviarin, now that she is about to be outed as Black Ajah by Elaida and has seen Mesaana reduced to a terrified wreck by Shaidar Haran . . . or perhaps not! Do you think that Elaida actually has any evidence to use against Alviarin, or is it all bluff and self-delusion from the Amyrlin we love to hate? Has Alviarin got any hope of uncovering the Black Hunters, even with her newly minted ‘Mark’?

I think Elaida is all bark and no bite concerning Alviarin at this point. Sure, lots of Aes Sedai are tired of Alviarin being all high and snooty, but no one can toss her in chains (or they would have done so by now).

I thin Alviarin is desperate and will try exceedingly hard to locate the Hunters. And unfortunately, the Hunters haven’t been as subtle as they could have been. I mean, Alviarin could just bitch slap Elaida a few times with the Power and get an answer from her about who brought her the info on the Black Ajah. From there, Alviarin can hunt down the Hunters.

2. Last week we were thinking about what the Reds might do now that male channelers will not go mad, and now we have some actively talking about Bonding Asha’men! Do you think Elaida would have a fit strong enough to bring on a stroke if this idea was suggested to her? Or will we need to wait until she hears the news from Toviene?

Personally, I think most of the Reds would be a bit more relaxed if they indulged in some male company….nude. But that’s just my personal opinion.

And yes, Elaida doesn’t want to share power and bonding Asha’men as Warders would be a type of sharing. As we have seen, even when the bond is forced, the bond does work both ways for several things, like the sharing of feelings.

While I think this would be a good way to chill the Reds out, I doubt the Asha’men will see it that way. So far we have seen the bond work one way or the other. I would be very interested to see if it can be a mutual bond, so that one is not dominant over the other.

3. Life seems to be throwing a lot of surprises at Cadsuane at the moment. What do you make of her distrust of Verin, an Aes Sedai who seems to have been a whole-hearted supporter from the very beginning? Were you surprised that she almost lost her cool when she discovered that the Asha’men had Bonded some Sisters?

I think that anyone who hangs out with Rand for a length of time starts loosing their cool more easily. Cadsuane is just another example of the exasperated female.

I think Verin hunts knowledge. So far Rand and all the events and people around him are fascinating enough to her that she has sided with him. But as soon as it becomes more interesting to go against Rand or even side with Black Ajah, etc. I think Verin would very well be tempted. Hence, I believe Cadsuane’s distrust to be a good thing.

Cadsuane started off cool (slapping Rand when he needed it) and stayed cool…until this little section. I don’t know why I keep being surprised by Aes Sedai being all high and mighty. Of course Asha’men will be bonding their version of Warders. Silly Aes Sedai!

4. Loial has returned, but with mixed news. Were you surprised that not all the steddings were willing to listen to his advice? What do you think will be discussed at the Great Stump and will Loial’s mother be there to force him into marriage?

No, I was not surprised that the Steddings were not all in total agreement. That would be too much to ask for. And I have to wonder if there are Dark Friend Ogier in some of the Steddings mucking things up. We have seen Dark Friends every where else, so why not among the Ogier?

I think Loial may be very surprised when Erith agrees to travel around with him. 🙂

5. Logain has finally decided to warn Rand about Taim. Do you think that Taim’s influence has gone too far, or can Rand save the Black Tower from becoming a center of Darkfriend recruitment? Also, were you surprised that Rand had decided to seek a compromise with the Seanchan?

Yes, I think Taim’s influence has gone too far. Even though Rand has been butting heads with the man, even though there have been these reports from others about the heads on spikes, Rand has not done anything. So even if he believes Logain 100% and jumps on the Black Tower tomorrow, it is going to be very, very difficult to bring it into line. Should be a lot of drama and violence to entertain the readers.

No, I was not surprised that Rand wants a peace with the Seanchan. He was pretty shaken by that ‘loss’ that he incurred and he has all this other shit on his plate. Also, we have enough examples now of the Seanchan restoring order and trade once they have taken a city/country, that Rand now knows they won’t destroy Randland.

6. Elza is revealed as Black Ajah. Were you surprised and who do you think she will send her evil Warder to kill?

OK, I didn’t really remember this character from before though she has probably made a previous appearance. At this point, I am not really surprised when I little known side character turns out to be evil. And I don’t know who her Warder will be sent to kill. There are plenty of choices and knowing Jordan’s plot devices, we could end up with a body and never be told who did it.

7. So Harbor: I have to admit that I was expecting trouble because Masema sent Perrin to the town, which seemed unusually helpful of him. Please discuss how freaky and spooky the place is: what stood out to you as the most chilling aspect? Do you think that the Seanchan have had a good look at it and decided to stay away?

This town is messed up. I get that there are dead walking, or at least the highly visible spirits of the dead haunting the place. Then we have the whole populace spooked and occasionally, accidentally, killing each other. But why are they not washing? That is the part that is bothering me a great deal. I mean clean running water has long been associated with keeping evil spirits at bay. So why not wash regularly? Why not keep clean dishes, etc.? I think there may be more to this mystery than we have been told so far.

Other Tidbits

Did I understand that correctly? Did THE Dark One use Shaidar Haran’s body to Mark Alviarin and terrorize her at the same time? Those seals must be getting pretty weak!

Cadsuane doesn’t know what all her angreal do! I really want her to test them, in a public place, with Loial available to write down the details for posterity.

Crossroads of Twilight, Part VI

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And the WoT Quad returns with Book 10, Crossroads of Twilight! If any of you silent stalkers want to join us, you are always welcome to. You can leave me a comment or email me (nrlymrtl [at] gmail [dot] com) to get on the weekly email of the discussion questions. Check out the schedule.

Sorry for posting late this week. The pain of my donkey-squished foot has been sapping my energy, and I have been doing plenty of weekend activities. Plus farm life. Anyway, I hope to be better this week.

This week, your host is Liesel at Musings on Fantasia who has the cool fanart.  Eivind, our keeper of esoteric WoT knowledge, can be found in the comments over at Liesel’s .Make sure to catch Sue and her often insightful answers over at Coffee, Cookies, and Chili Peppers.

This week, we cover Chapters 17-20. Spoilers for this section run free below!

1) Nicola and Areina are still around causing trouble. Do you think they’ll stay around? Reveal Egwene’s secrets? Get sent home?

Perhaps one or the other will end up dead and Egwene will save the other from certain doom? Then she would have a fateful follower forever, and quite frankly, she could use a few of those. But most likely these two idiots will keep pushing the boundaries of Egwene’s benevolence and eventually one or both will be sent on long rambling necessary but yet not important missions. Or Egwene will wrap their heads in flows of power and suffocate them.

2) What do you think Egwene is planning with the newly-rediscovered method of making Cuendillar?

I have to say I was VERY surprised by this turn of events. I think Egwene is planning to have new seals and/or weapons (or shields) made of the stuff. But first, folks must practice and get good at it. Hence, all the trinkets. But she is wise to have so many, even the trainees, practicing. If she is going to have them make weapons or shields later on, the more who know how to do it, the more that will survive.

3) Siuan has discovered a strange trend of sisters too young to be Sitters being made Sitters. What do you think it means? Who or what is behind it?

Well, we know that some of the Aes Sedai voted Egwene in as Amyrlin because they thought she was young and malleable. Perhaps the same idiots are hopeful that young Sitters will be the same way and will give them more control.

4) There is talk in Egwene’s camp of taking the Red Ajah out of her stole entirely. Given that the Red’s main purpose had to do with controlling men who can channel, and now things have changed, both because of Rand and because saidin has been cleansed, do you think the Red Ajah has become obsolete? Will they disappear completely?

I think there will always be a small and precautionary need for Red Ajah. Say, after Rand saves the world, and we have Asha’men and Aes Sedai working together and having kids together, there could always be some male channeler that goes rogue and wants to rule the world (imagine Masema channeling!). So the Red Ajah would have the knowledge and skill to at least bring the rogue under control. The other side of the coin is that the Black Tower will eventually have their own form of Ajahs and they will have an Ajah with the skill to bring rogue Aes Sedai under control.

5) Egwene’s Hall is arguing about a possible agreement with the Black Tower. It’s based on bad information (or just a lack of info, I suppose) but it sounds like it might happen. Do you think this is a good or bad thing? What will it lead to? What form will it take?

I think it is a good thing because I as a reader have all this other knowledge. I know that Logain is planning something, probably involving going head to head with Taim. We need that jerk out of there and probably without a head. I also know that Asha’men and Aes Sedai have started working together here and there and the Aes Sedai haven’t fainted dead away or turned into geese from the experience. And I also know that Rand has cleansed saidar, which takes a lot of the wind out of the sails for those arguing against it.

But of course, our rogue White Tower doesn’t know all this. So, they will make a bungle out of it and I expect the Black Tower will come out on top of any deal.

Eventually there will be mating between Asha’men and Aes Sedai and then we will have all these geeky, socially inept channelers running around.

6) Egwene dreams both of a Seanchan woman who will save her, and of the Seanchan attacking the Tower. What do you think these dreams mean?

I think Egwene is going to have a very, very hard time accepting help from the Seanchan. But eventually, she will, and together they will take out the White Tower. Perhaps Mat and Tuon will work out their thing and then Tuon will order Seanchan assistance to Egwene.

7) Who do you think killed Anaiya and her warder, and why? What was she doing on the outskirts of the camp in the middle of the night?

I think Halima the Evil lured Anaiya out there and then killed them. I am just not sure why yet. Perhaps Anaiya is working against Egwene (like for an opposing Sitter) and hoped to get some juicy intel from Halima.

Other Tidbits

I think the rainbow stole looks better with a bit of red in it. It’s not a true rainbow without red, so the Browns would argue that a rainbow stole without red would need a new name. That would spark a very tedious discussion.

During this section, Egwene commented on Elayne’s pregnancy outside of marriage, how things were different from the Two Rivers, and then on Halima’s light skirts. I found it interesting that in passing (mostly just Egwene’s thoughts), Jordan covered this range of what is socially acceptable for a woman, or not, depending on circumstances and culture.

Winter's Heart Read Along Part VII

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.

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

This week we covered Chapters 30-End. Spoilers are having a party below!

1. Mat helps a Seafolk woman being held as damane escape. She promises to remember his good deed. How do you think this will affect the plot of the story, and Mat specifically in the future?

Well, I expect that Mat will have free passage on Sea Folk ships once this becomes known. This will allow him to travel quickly, perhaps even taking his army with him. It could allow him to take the battle to the Seanchan on the high sea.

2. Mat finally learns who Tuon is. What did you think of this situation? Of Egeanin’s reaction to his announcement? Predictions?

Haha! This was awesome. Tuon was totally kicking his arse. But with her subdued and Egeanin totally in shock, then she tells Mat he can’t treat the Daughter of Nine Moons this way. And that is when it clicks for Mat, and with his declaration that Tuon is his wife, it seems to click for her too. So, I think Mat will have far less trouble smuggling her out now than he initially expected. However, once they enter into a real relationship, I expect Mat will have all sorts of woman troubles because 1) the cultural difference and 2) because it is Mat.

3. Rand goes to kill Torvel and Gedwyn, but Padan Fain has done the deed for him. After a brief fight, Fain flees yet again. Do you think he will resurface? What does he have planned? What did you make of Toram Riatin (from Cairhien) being there?

Of course Padan Fain will resurface. Definitely. 1) I want him to be annihilated in a permanent fashion for my entertainment; 2) He is too good a villain to be set on the side lines for long; and 3) Padan Fain himself can’t help but meddle.

But what does Fain have planned? Hmmm…This is a good question. I think he doesn’t really plan details. I get the impression that he makes broad swooping plans and his evilness pulls off the details. So, I am going to say that his plan is to kill Rand. Period.

I have forgotten who Toram is and what he has done. And I am afraid to google his name or go look at the WoT Wiki to help jar my mind. Lots of spoilers out there. OK, I was brave and went and peeked anyway. Right so he was hanging out in the snowy foothills with that intelligent lady that didn’t give Rand away at the tent party where Padan Fain tried to kill him. So, Toram has been in the near vicinity of Fain twice now. Hmm….Either Toram is hunting Fain or Toram is a naughty bad guy. He seemed decent enough when we first met him, so for right now I will reserve judgement, without falling asleep in his presence. Just in case.

4. Lan has been wary of Rand since the two reunited, but when things go bad on the rooftop, the two men show deep loyalty to one another. What did you think of this scene? How will it affect their relationship going forward?

It was good to see Lan’s dry sense of humor again. I think Lan may eventually come out of his funk. I am sure he had a lot of grief and anger (directed at Rand) to work through due to Moiraine’s death. Rand feels terribly responsible for that and hopefully Lan can see that and also have that knowledge work as a balm.

I am hoping these two will have the relationship they once had when Lan was training him in the sword. Of course, Rand will have to learn to loosen up a bit too. Perhaps Lan can see Rand becoming hard like stone, and since Lan knows what kind of dreary existence that his, he will help steer Rand around it and wave it goodbye.

5. Cadsuane has to intervene in Far Madding to get Rand and Lan out of prison. What do you think she had on Aleis that made Aleis surrender so quickly, to her own shame and ruin?

I am guessing we won’t ever know for sure. But since Cadsuane grew up in Far Madding, and was probably thrown out at some point, and that any return visits haven’t gone well, I am going to guess that she knows some important things about the Guardian. She hinted that not every defense is perfect. Of course, she didn’t tell them about the angreal Well that Nynaeve was wearing…and I assume Cadsuane is wearing one as well.

Whatever it is, Aleis knows it too, and picked up quickly that Cadsuane knows it. So perhaps it is some historical city secret passed on to the ruler (and maybe not the entire Counsel).

6. The last chapter was crazy! Rand seems to have done the impossible and cleansed the taint. We got tons of different viewpoints and characters. Along with plenty of interesting revelations. What stuck out to you? What surprised you? How will a clean saidin change things?

Oh yes, that was a crazy chapter! I got a little muddled, to be honest. Two things stuck out for me. 1) Handling that much Saidin/Saidar as a pair was basically orgasmic. So happy times for all involved in this feat. 2) While the cleansing took lots, and lots of power, it was basically straight forward and over pretty quickly. I could compare this to another bodily function, but I know fans might be offended. So, let you guess on that one.

How will things change? Well, if Rand is still moody and a touch insane, then we know it is all him. So folks can feel free to slap him instead of coddle him. Also, I think we will see a shift in the Black Tower. If Mazrim Taim continues to poison the ‘unhinged’ then I expect Rand to do something about it, or at least switch his trust to Logain and let Logain go deal with it. Additionally, I hope that the common populace and the lady Channelers will start to trust the Saidin wielders, though this might be really hard. There are generations of stories and fables and bad limericks warning people to fear saidin and to behead anyone using it. So, huge hurdle to get over.

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

Other Tidbits

Mat’s little goodbye to Tylin was far more civil than I expected. And she kept a pretty level head with her insisting that he tie her up.

With Suroth back, I worry that Beslan’s distraction might not be enough!

Sue was so right! Like 1-2 books back when she guessed that Cadsuane’s hair ornaments were angreal. Very cool!

Rand doesn’t like being boxed, and I can’t blame him. Still, this was quite different than the Aes Sedai who beat him daily and folded him into trunk. I hope he recovers far more quickly.

Holy Hell! It is Lanfear, as we all guessed. And she is pissed!