A Memory of Light, Part VIII

WOT 14Welcome everyone to Book 14 of The Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan and the final week of this read along.

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

I want to take a moment to thank everyone! First, Anya of On Starships & Dragonwings who kicked off this mad read along over 2 years ago. A big thanks to Liesel, Eivind, and Sue who kept is going! And a wee little thank you to all you silent stalkers out there. Here we are at the end of this 15 book (including the prequel) read along. It’s been a magnificent ride!

This week, we covered Chapter 38 to the END. Spoilers run rampant for this section and all previous books below!

1. Egwene speaks to Rand from beyond the grave and he has a hard time “letting go” of those who’ve died on the battlefield. What did you think of this part and it’s solution?

This was one of my favorite parts of the ending. Rand finally got it! He is not the only hero in this tale! I know others have been trying to tell him this for ages now. Sometimes it was frustrating to watch Rand feel like he had to carry all this on his shoulders and let no one help him. Then when he was suffering from all the deaths in the Last Battle, I kind of wanted to slap him. Of course, there will be deaths!

So it was great to see Egwene giving him this last message, watching him realize the truth, and then part of the self-imposed load being lifted from his shoulders.

2. There’s a new horn blower, and we see more of Brigitte, Noal, Artur Hawkwing, and others. Comment on what you liked of this section. What did you expect, not expect?

This was also awesome! I loved that Olver could call the Heroes of the Horn and the Noal was the one to step in and save him. It was also great, if a bit predictable, that Brigitte appeared and saved Elayne one more time. I am sure this helped Elayne get over her pain of losing her Warder and friend, not to mention preventing her belly from being cut open.

However, I do wish that the rules of the Horn had been explained a bit more by the end of the book. Everyone, including Mat, thought the Horn was tied to him. So was it his balefire death wierdness that severed that tie? Or his hanging by the Aelfinn? Or do you simply need to be somewhat pure of heart and in desperate need?

3. Lan lives, Alana dies, and Thom is successful at killing many members of the Black Ajah outside the pit. Questions? Comments? Happy dances?

I was totally emotionally prepared for Lan to be dead, just like he has been emotionally prepared to die for his entire life. That said, I was quite happy to see him live! Hooray!

I am glad that Alana let go of her Bond to Rand prior to dying. I have to wonder if Rand sent her off (how many books ago) in order to get caught and be used by the Dark One as a leash at this point. Rand must have put trust in her to release the Bond, if that is in fact why he sent her off.

Then again, since Alana forced the Bond onto him, he might have been a little distracted by her death, but not devastated.

Thom’s role, while perhaps not considered major, was still awesome. At the very first, as an Aes Sedai approached, and Thom put a knife in her, I had this horrible moment where I thought that just maybe Thom was a super secret Dark Friend, but was then immensely relieved that he was simply taking out Black Ajah and the like.

4. Androl impersonates Rand to trap the evil idiots, Grady opens a gateway to Hinderstap (dah!), and Logain breaks the seals. What was your favorite and why? (Feel free to comment on all.)

Androl is getting a lot of practice with his impersonations! And once again, we see that the uncoordinated efforts of the bad guys keep leading them to doom and despair! Mmaaahhhhwwaaaaa!

While it was interesting to glimpse Hinderstap again, I found Logain’s final actions to be the most interesting. Logain was definitely craving power and vengeance and it was nice for him to hold both within his sights, and then let it go. His actions to rescue and protect some noncombatants, and his subsequent realization that the Black Tower and Asha’men could become protectors, was excellent! I really like how his character arc ended.

5. Aviendha vs. Graendal. Aviendha loses her feet (ouch!), and kills Rhuarc. Ultimately Graendal’s compulsion backfires. What did you think of the final solution here?

Aviendha’s time as a fighter have most likely come to an end. At least she will be able to go on as a teacher of one kind or another. It was a little hard losing Rhuarc, mostly because I think he will kick himself for an eternity in the next life and the one after that for falling to Compulsion.

While we see Graendal’s Compulsion backfire and she becomes an adoring servant to Aviendha, I wonder what happens to her afterwards? Does Aviendha keep her around long enough to pick her brain? Does Nynaeve release Graendal from the Compulsion (while she is shielded) and then execute her?

6. Perrin takes out Lanfear and Slayer, and the worlds flicker. Meanwhile, the Wild Hunt comes to Thakandar and the spirits of dead wolves appear on the slopes. Um, discuss!

Wow! Just wow! Perrin took a real beating, and I didn’t expect him to play much more of a role in the final chapters of this book. So I was both delighted and a little worried to see Perrin back in play. Let me just say I was quite relieved that Perrin lived as I was worried he was Rand’s Red Shirt in this series.

Having so many wolves lost was a little heart rending, but we all knew that was coming books ago. They died well and accomplished much before the end.

7. Rand, Nynaeve, and Moiraine exploit the flaw in Callandor to trap Moridin. How well-thought-out was that? Are you surprised it worked?

OK, now please be kind, but I still don’t fully understand Callandor. For me, listening to the audiobook, things happen really fast sometimes and I don’t have the luxury of rereading a sentence or paragraph or page.

So, with that in mind, I am very glad that the trick worked. Obviously, for the ending, it was fairly important that it did work. On the other hand, I am pretty foggy on just what the big deal was, why Callnador was needed, and what role Moiraine played (other than looking intense and serious for the past several chapters).

8. What did you think of Rand’s final solution for the DO’s prison? Will it hold?

I liked how this was resolved. Last week, we saw Rand come to the conclusion that destroying the Dark One would not benefit the world, but instead create a world where folks were not truly themselves and couldn’t experience true free will.

So, of course he had to come up with a new solution and I liked what he came up with. As this is a world where the Wheel weaves as it wills, and there are no true endings or beginnings, I don’t expect it to hold forever. We will have another massive confrontation sooner or later.

9. Comment on some (or all) of the aftermath: our ta’veren heroes are ta’veren no longer, Ilturalde will rule, Tuon is pregnant, Moghedien survives…as a damane!!!, Faile lives, Cadsuane as Amyrlin, Rand vs. Moridin and the three women around the funeral pyre, and Loial’s writing makes an appearance. In the end, Rand doesn’t channel, but thinks his pipe is lit and it is. What does it all mean? What did you like/dislike? Was there anything unresolved you wanted to see? General thoughts, feelings, reactions. (This is your last chance to geek out! :D)

I think all 3 Ta’veren are very relieved to no longer be Ta’veren. Plus, Rand has to disappear now so it’s probably good that Mat and Perrin can’t track him with the rainbow sensory ties they use to have.

Ituralde has a good head on his shoulders, so I think things will go well with him leading.

Tuon is pregnant and threatening Mat’s life….again. I think he is amused and likes a woman who keeps him on his toes.

I had mixed feelings about Moghedien. Part of me really wants her dead, because alive she will eventually wreak havoc. Also, it’s obvious some of the Seanchan were scouring the done & dead battlefield for possible slaves to be collared while no one was really paying attention – against the agreements laid down by Tuon and Rand. Naughty Seanchan!

For Perrin’s sake, I was glad to see Faile still alive. I wouldn’t have mourned her passing, but I would have hated to see Perrin mourning for the rest of his life.

Cadsuane will make a decent Amyrlin. She has a wealth of knowledge, years, and hands-on experience. Hopefully she has learned some tact and won’t be such a bully.

It was awesome to see Loial lived and gets to go on to write his book – perhaps the very books we read!

And finally, Rand gets to do a body swap at the last minute. He gets to take over Moridin’s handsome and whole body and ride off into the sunset, with his Bonds in tact with his mini-harem. Um…..WTF? Did anyone else have a moment there? OK, we have seen for several books now that Moridin and Rand are somehow attached to each other. But this sudden leap to a whole body swap at the end…well, I didn’t feel it was necessary. I was OK with Rand dying because he was OK with making the ultimate sacrifice. Plus, he had already reproduced with Elayne and perhaps Min & Aviendha as well.

And, of course, I would have loved more info on how Demandred came to be in charge of an entire nations of Dark Friends. So I must (happily) run off to read the short story in the anthology Unfettered.

I would also like to know how Taim came to have the Seals. I know Eivind gave some very plausible ideas of how this came about. Still, I would have liked it explained in the narrative.

OK, now that I have picked apart the ending, over all I really enjoyed it. Yes, there was some death and tears, but we won! The world goes on and most of our heroes continue on with their lives. There will be more adventures!

Will the WoT world be opened up for other writers to write in? How about an HBO series based on the books? One can only hope.

A Memory of Light, Part VII

WOT 14Welcome everyone to Book 14 of The Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan and the next to final week of this read along.

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

This week, we covered Chapter 37, entitled ‘The Last Battle’. Spoilers run rampant for this section and all previous books below!

1.  What did you think of the structure?  That is, one huge chapter with no breathers.  Was it appropriate for the battle, or did you find the difference from before jarring?

I thought the structure worked. We got to see the battle from several view points and I never felt like I had battle fatigue. In fact, I am eager to see what the final week brings, because things are still happening!

2.  Tuon orchestrates a fight with Mat, and decides to return only after some careful deliberations.  Ice-cold gamble or foolhardy move by Mat?  Am I the only one who thinks the Seanchan have gotten away with very little fighting so far?

I was surprised that Tuon agreed to the fake (or semi-fake) argument as she can get stuck on what is appropriate for her station.

But then I was more surprised that she was actually contemplating not returning to the battle! Has she not been paying attention? Ugh! I wanted Min to give her a slap.

And yes, the Seanchan as a whole have not been as engaged in the Last Battle as everyone else. I hope Mat can change that. After all, they do have a sizable force made up of competent warriors and a solid command structure.

3.  Androl and Pevara spend much of the battle behind enemy lines to recover the seals, practicing telepathy and other fascinating effects.  Why not another lava trick?  Logain also challenge Demandred.  What do you think of his motivations?  Where will his glory come from?

I think it is great that Androl and Pevara are exploring this double bond and also building a solid friendship (and perhaps something more?). Maybe Androl isn’t capable of such a big trick unless he is the recipient of a circle of channelers? Still, it would be cool if he made tiny little gateways that shot out little lava streams. That would distract the bad guys, if nothing else.

I think Logain wants to do good, but his time in captivity has also made him want to lash out. It really does remind me of Rand shortly after he was released from the Aes Sedai and their box. I am not sure where his glory will come from. I had hoped that he would get to take out Taim, but we saw that he did not. Perhaps Mogedien or Padan Fain? They’re lurking around somewhere, right?

4.  In the meantime, Rand and the Dark One exchange visions for the future.  What do you think of all these?  Can Rand really kill the Dark One now?

This was unexpected, but I really liked it. A few weeks ago, I asked if the Dark One could be killed, because he/it was kind of like a force of nature or Elemental. Now that we have seen this exchange of visions, including one in which the Dark One and evil no longer exists, we see that life would not be balanced or complete. So, no, I think Rand will have to find a way to contain or minimize the Dark One.

5.  Some choose not to fight for various reasons.  What do you think of Ila’s thoughts on violence, now, at the Last Battle?  Did you expect the gai’shain to fight?  Any difference between them and the reluctant mercenaries from the prologue?

The forces of the Dark are not going to give quarter. They are not interested in taking captives, except maybe a select few. They are not interested in a swift and honorable defeat of the enemy and will then rule in relative peace and efficiency (like the Seanchan). No, the Trollocs want to kill you and then eat you. The Red Aiel are literally mad with blood lust. The Sharans will enslave at best, and torture and kill at worst. The elderly, the young, the weak, the inebriated will not be spared. Essentially, if the Dark wins and you are left alive, you will wish you were dead.

So, it’s silly to try healing Trollocs, or simply turning them free to run wild in a lightly populated place. I think the Aiel as a whole will understand if the gai’shain pick up arms and fight at this time. I am sure there can be a way found to ‘regain’ any honor lost in such an act. And, yes, I think there is a philosophical difference between the gai’shain and the reluctant mercenaries – honor versus coin. But in practicality, no. They all need to get armed and get busy.

6.  Faile and Co. make it to the battle, only to be betrayed by Aravine.  Do you think anyone other than Olver made it out (Faile, especially)?  What did you think of Bela’s heroic death?  Where does the Horn go from here?

Aravine! Argh! Dark friends pop up in such inconvenient places.

I am not sure if Faile made it out alive. She was horsed and uninjured when she lead off the Trollocs. But it is a messy battle field. Quite frankly, if Faile dies I will be sorry for Perrin’s loss but not particularly sad that Faile is gone.

Fuck! Bela! Man, that was hard. She was there from the beginning. She will be mourned.

I am not sure how Olver will get the Horn to Mat. Perhaps Mat will figure out somehow that Olver has the Horn and will borrow one of the Seanchan flying beasties, swoop down, pick up the boy, and then boy fly to glory blowing the Horn!

7.  Gawyn, Galad and Lan all decide to challenge Demandred.  Gawyn pays the ultimate price: foolish move, or a reasonable gamble to remove the most dangerous enemy on the field?  Galad tries to avenge him, and fails, only for Lan to do the deed and finally fulfill his series-long death wish.  What do you think of these events?

Demandred is definitely a bad ass, even if he is an arrogant ass. So I think we all saw it coming that Gawyn would attempt something foolish with his fighting skills and the Seachan assassin rings. However, I didn’t see him be quite this foolish and accomplishing nothing. He didn’t even wound Demandred nor take out some key commanders in Demandred’s army. I was surprised that there was such an empty death for Gawyn.

I thought it was interesting that Mat sent Galad a note and the necklace with the duplicate foxhead medallion. Mat actually does do a lot of thinking, but I guess he has to be under some pressure for it to manifest.

Lan has been looking for his death since before we met him. So I am not surprised that he found it on this battlefield (though we haven’t seen his head on a spike nor had Nynaeve feel his last breath yet – resurrection?).

8.  Egwene, having lost her warder and husband, slays M’Hael (WITH a sa’angreal) and then lays waste to the Sharans, and kills herself, Lews Therin style.  Did you expect Egwene to be the first out of the original crew?  Was her fate sealed already when Gawyn died?  What will her legacy be, as Amyrlin?  And what of this new weave—the Flame of Tar Valon?

I was not expecting Egwene to die at all, even with Gawyn’s death! This totally surprised me. Yet, I was OK with it. This is the Last Battle and I don’t think everyone is going to make it out alive. After all, we have several heroes in the series and sometimes heroes die spectacularly.

As to Egwene’s legacy, well I expect all these crystals she created in sealing cracks will become pretty valuable. Maybe even turned into angreals of some sort. Also, nearly all her words were recorded for some reason or another, so I think the aes sedai who are left will take greater heed of them.

I think this new weave, the Flame of Tar Valon, will be very, very hard to teach without turning oneself into a giant crystal pillar. It will be studied, as best it can be, and written about ad naseum. But I am not sure anyone will be able to duplicate it until the Wheel turns again and we have another Last Battle and the need is great.

9.  Elayne, having suffered huge losses for the whole battle, is taken by Mellar, threatening to cut her babies out.  What will come of this?  Is Birgitte now permanently dead, or is she just waiting on the other side for the Horn to blow?

OK, as incompetent as Elayne is, I don’t particularly want to see her dead through said incompetence. Sigh….who will save Elayne this time? Bryne is gone, Bashere too. Birgitte too. Maybe Mat will blow that Horn soon and Birgitte’s first act will be to save Elayne’s ass one more time.

And yes, I totally think Birgitte is waiting in the ethereal wings for the Horn to blow.

10. Anything else you feel I missed?  Ogier?  Dragons?  The beautiful Shendla?  Demandred’s approach to the battle?  All the minor deaths: Hurin, Mr. and Mrs. Bashere, Bryne and, dare I say Siuan?  Min’s spy-hunting?  Leilwin?

There was so much in this chapter! I am pretty sure Siuan and Bryne are gone. Min’s visions don’t lie and they did separate in order to get some things done. I was worried how Egwene would take the loss of one of her closest advisors (Siuan) but with Egwene’s death, that is no longer a concern.

If Faile lives, I am sure she will take the loss of her parents hard. Though they did pass in glory, so that will be celebrated. Faile is enough of a warrior to see that.

Egwene freed Leilwin from the Bond before doing her last act, right? So, I am sure Leilwin will mourn her in some way, but she won’t be crushed by it. Perhaps she and Bayle will go on to do some more good deeds.

Since the Seanchan aren’t doing too much at the moment, I guess Min has time to hunt for spies. I wouldn’t be surprised by how many she might uncover.

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 IV

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’s Coffee, Cookies, & Chili Peppers is our host. You can probably find Eivind there. Liesel at Musings on Fantasia, cool non-spoilery fan art, so don’t miss checking her post out.

For the fourth week in a row, I am a bit late posting. I am a weaver and this past weekend was one of my biggest shows of the year, and it was super busy. Today, I have been mostly a vegetable, lying about in bed catching up on Knife of Dreams.

This week, we covered Chapters 13-18. Spoilers run rampant for this section and all previous books below!

1. Elayne seems to be having an ‘interesting’ time because of her pregnancy. Do you think that she is right to be so confident of her continued survival just because of Min’s viewing? Are you concerned that she and Birgitte are going to make a massive error of judgment because of either tiredness or pregnancy-induced irrationality?

I think Elayne is taking too many chances. After all, Min’s viewing didn’t say that Elayne needed to be anything more than a comatose vegetable carrying her babes to birth.

On the other hand, it is immensely entertaining and quite the opposite of what we normally see pregnant women doing – trying to be as protective of their unborn as much as possible.

And Birgitte has been in enough tough situations that she should know that sleep is really important. So I am a little surprised to see her pushing things to the edge of incompetence like this.

2. Some new allies have arrived, but the castle and, possibly the whole city, are rearranging themself at random. How do you see the siege of Caemlyn playing out? Will the mercenaries remain loyal or will Arymilla be able to bribe them? Can Elayne attract any of the Great Houses that have adult leaders?

I think a few strategic executions would suss out much of this nonsense – like some of the leaders of the mercenary groups. If Arymilla buys a few, then Elayne will have the law on her side and can take this action. I think once she shows an iron hand, she will attract more of the house leaders. After all, most folks seek stability, not necessarily right or noble.

As for the castle rearranging itself, that is freaky. Makes me think a little of Hogwarts. So I would want to place some highly recognizable art in the halls and on the walls to help me figure out how things have been moved about. Also certain scents could be used. You could have the mint wing, the lavendar level, the chamomile basement, etc.

3. Aviendha discovers a super, new Talent and then gets whisked away by the Wise Ones. I found this chapter rather jarring for some reason: perhaps I am just accustomed to the meandering pace that the past few books have adopted! Do you think that Aviendha’s departure will have a serious effect on Elayne’s morale, or ability to stop herself throwing things? Do you find it a little too convenient that the pair can now identify the use of angreal and also recreate them?

Oh yes, I found this chapter both jarring and very convenient plot wise. It was jarring partially because of Elayne snapping at everyone, but then having Aviendha whisked away didn’t really make sense to me. If Rand ordered the Aiel to march somewhere, I think he would have made a provision that Aviendha was to stay and guard Elayne. Plus, it was very sudden and I have a hard time seeing even the Wise Women being so hard-hearted as to readily separate Aveidnha and Elayne during a seige while Elayne is pregnant and with The Last Battle coming.

But I can also see that separating Aviendha and Elayne is the only way to get Mellar to move against Elayne. With Aviendha guarding Elayne night and day, Mellar wouldn’t have stood a chance. So, for plot’s sake, we have to move Aviendha somewhere else.

And of course we need to the two to be in contact, so we have this other convenient plot device of Aviendha IDing the angreal, several of which are for long range communication. And I believe that is what Elayne sent with her. So, now they just need to figure out how to activate them.

4. Captain Mellar is certainly a man in great need of a sharp dagger to the jugular. Do you think that this latest shadow will be anymore successful than the last few? Do you think that Mellar will be able to hold himself in check much longer, or will Elayne’s rudeness finally provoke him to violence?

I think this latest shadow will bring Elayne some info, otherwise Jordan wouldn’t have written him in to the storyline. And I think that with Aviendha’s departure and Elayne’s increased rudeness (deserved though it is), Mellar is very, very close to acting. Again, I am concerned that Min’s viewing only requires Elayne’s body to remain alive long enough to deliver her babes and that Elayne is being too reckless, on several fronts.

5. Someone is bumping off members of the Kin. Do you think it really is one of the two sisters under suspicion of Adeleas’ murder? Do you think that the Kin will scatter and flee once it is revealed that someone is targeting them, or will they stand firm and try to defend themselves?

Well, it is someone using saidar. So far, we haven’t had a Dark Friend Windfinder, right? So, maybe for one to rear her black-hearted face. But could also be Black Ajah. The fact is, we have a lot of bad guys running around, uncoordinated, many of whom don’t even know the others exist. So, I wouldn’t be surprised if Jordan gives us a brand new bad guy knocking off the Kin. We could even have a Dark Friend among the Kin.

And, yes, I expect the Kin to rally and defend themselves once they know what is going on. After all, they had to defend themselves as a group for centuries before now.

6. Arymilla has a very unstable alliance built upon threats and deceit. Do you think that she can hold it together long enough to take Caemlyn? What do you make of Nasin and his ‘simple’ granddaughter: am I the only one who thinks that they are playing a very cunning scheme to use Arymilla’s army for their own ends?

I think Arymilla is being used, and therefore, yes, her army will hold behind her as long as the puppet masters believe they can take the throne. If Arymilla is killed or Elayne makes a decisive blow, then they will pull their support.

Yep, that simple granddaughter isn’t so simple. I expect Nasin & family are using Arymilla and that if Arymilla were to somehow take the city and the palace, she could well find herself accidentally killed by friendly fire.

7. Rand has the link to Mat and Perrin that all three share, but he now has a link to Moridin as well. Do you think that this could work to his advantage, or will it be a massive weakness? Do you think it is connected to his nausea when seizing Saidin?

I think this will initially be a weakness for Rand. He hasn’t been the most proactive in most instances, especially the psychological and info gathering stuff. I expect the Moridin is using the intelligence he gains from looking through Rand’s eyes way more than Rand is using the info he has access to.

But eventually, good will conquer evil. So I expect that Rand will some day, some way pull off some sort of fake out on Moridin and be able to trick the evil sod and kill him.

I don’t know why Rand still has continued nausea and weakness when seizing saidin. Honestly, I thought that cleansing saidin would have taken care of that. So now I think it is linked to whatever Cadsuane must teach Rand in order to survive. Perhaps she knows how to block Moridin’s voyeurism. Perhaps she just makes a really good cup of mint chamomile tea.

8. Covril has arrived with Erith! How quickly do you think that she can organize Loial’s wedding? How does Cadsuane know her?

Haha! Poor Loial. He just assumes he will have to give up his beloved quest and book. I think that both his mother and his wife-to-be will see how miserable he is and Erith will assist him in his quest. She can make sure he stays fed and polish his quill on a regular basis. 😉

And yes, of course Covril will have to see the two married straight off before she can retire back to her Steading. I wonder what an Ogier wedding is like?

Cadsuane has been around for centuries, so I expect she has had many dealings with the Ogier over the years. Though since so few are adventurous, I would expect that she knows Covril adn her lineage because she went to study with the Ogier women at some point.

Other Tidbits:

I am kind of glad that Rand doesn’t have to be around for the snappy, angry stage of Elayne’s pregnancy (which I hope she comes out of soon).

Is it just me, or do others occasionally want to smack a Wise One or two upside the head for over use of physical reprimands?

I really wish that Mat, Perrin, and Rand would figure out that they can communicate with each other via their shared rainbow vision.

A Crown of Swords Read Along Part V

WOT 7 BannerWelcome back everyone! This week Liesel is our host and you can find cool fanart of the non-spoiery kind over at Liesel’s Musing on Fantasia. Eivind, our awesome commenter should be there as well. And don’t miss Sue’s intellectual take over at Coffee, Cookies, and Chili Peppers.

This week we covered Chapters 19-24. Spoilers Below!!!

1) We got more of Cadsuane when she interviewed (grilled) the other Sisters around Rand. What did you think of how she handled them? What do you think her endgame is?
My first impressions of Cadsuane were two-fold: Arrogant and daring. But now I think she might be a bit wiser as she is gathering info, as she can, from the other sisters. This info is far from complete and accurate, but it is a start and I hope she doesn’t let her arrogance lead her down the path of Aes Sedai assumptions about male channelers.
2) Rand and Min take their relationship to the next level. (Poor Elayne!) What did you think of how this happened? How will it change Min and Rand’s friendship? And how will Elayne and Aviendha react?
Well, Rand and Min had just learned of some deaths and they needed comfort. Who can comfort Rand? Probably only his three ladies, and only Min is around. Who could comfort Min? Colavere wasn’t exactly popular and anyone who might understand Min sad over it might also fear being seen with her and mourning an enemy of the Dragon Reborn. If Elayne was around, or Egwene even, they might have been able to comfort her. But they were not. So, Rand and Min it is.
Of course it will change their friendship. Is Rand capable of just being friends with a woman he has bedded? Is he capable of being friends, or even a beau to a woman he has bedded out of wedlock? No. Rand hasn’t been able to expand his culture-based morals that far, yet.
I think Elayne will be OK with it. OK, as in, she won’t hate Min nor channel her into a crisp. Aviendha may have a harder time because she hasn’t gotten to know Min and become friends with her. But Aviendha may demand some ‘honor’ from Rand and that may entail marriage to all three ladies. I think Elayne will back Aviendha up on that.
3) Sevanna and her little retinue use the call boxes to speak to a man and a woman, who we later learn are Sammael and Graendal. What do you think their plan is? And who do you think the Watcher keeping on eye on them is?
I am not sure what Sevanna is up to. Nothing good, obviously. I think she is still set on forcing Rand to marry her or acknowledge her in some way so she could rule all the clans. But I think even she realizes that she will need a channeler, whether Wise One or Aes Sedai, to ‘collar’ Rand and make him compliant. If this is so, it is a sucky plan and she will fail. Much to my amusement.
I am not sure who the Watcher is. Is this the one with black dot that moves across their eyes? I don’t think this one is batting for the Light Side, but rather for the Dark Side. Still, anyone who can follow 2 Forsaken and go unnoticed is formidable.
4) After a (somewhat hilarious) evening of drinking with Brigitte, the dice in Mat’s head stop when Elayne and Nynaeve ask him to move into the palace. Obviously it’s an important event. What do you think it means? What will happen?
I loved the tipsy-through-the-bond Elayne. She seemed much more relaxed and personable.
I am not sure what will happen with Mat’s dice, but I am pretty sure what with happen with his man parts. Queen Tylin has been eagerly awaiting the opportunity to give them a try, and I think his closer proximity to her will allow that relationship to move forward. I am hoping it proves to be amusing….for us readers. 🙂
5) Nynaeve and Elayne discover a Circle of women who are either too weak to become Aes Sedai or have been kicked out of the Tower for some reason. What do you think of the Kin and their odd customs? How will they figure in the story from here on out?
This was a very amusing scene. Here Nynaeve and Elayne have the opportunity to discover some pretty important info. While Nynaeve is all for giving it a try, she is so blunt and impatient, things do not go well at all. Meanwhile, Elayne sees it as a waste of time from the beginning. The Wonder Girls each have moments of infuriating Aes Sedai arrogance!
Still, the same could be said for the Kin who don’t believe Nynaeve and Elayne. I think discovering the Kin may turn into a little bookmark event that the Wonder Girls come back to in the future and draw upon.
6) Nynaeve’s weather sense tells her a storm is about to break over the city, which we now know is something of a Talent. It doesn’t always mean the weather, but sometimes other kinds of storms. What do you think her weather sense portends this time?
The shit is about to get real.
Yeah, I think Nynaeve needs to add that label to her weather sense dial. Would make it much easier for her and those around her to know when to go find a hole to hide in or to get out of town.
As for this specific time, well…Mat’s got dice in his head, we know that White Cloaks, Dark Friends, and at least 1 Forsaken all know they are in town. lots of people (including some Black Ajah) are hunting the angreal stash. I think just maybe, all this stuff will come together into some street, or perhaps even palace, fight. I am hoping it will be spectacular.
7) While making their way back from the Kin’s manor, Nynaeve and Elayne are attacked in the street. Who do you think did it and why?
Remember last week how I made that joke about the Wonder Girls not falling into anymore traps? Well this was a very near thing. Idiots! They have free body guards on call via Mat, the Palace, could even hire some. Lots of choices.
Anyway, as to who did it…..well there was at least 4 people involved, right? We had whoever fired the blunt-tipped arrows, the man helping them to the carriage, the woman in the carriage, and the carriage driver. Possibly the shop keeper? But I tend to dismiss her as she offered Nynaeve a cup of water afterwards. She would have to be a ballsy one to stick around afterward if she was part of the kidnap crew.
So, who could either hire or be a part of that team? Well, there are those 2 Black Ajah ladies…..but I can’t recall if Nynaeve & Elayne know what they look like. Still, they could have hired a team. There is the Darkfriend Shiaine. I don’t think Nynaeve and Elayne know what she looks like. So that might be the better bet. Or we may never know, kind of like the attack on Mat.

Other Tidbits:

Has Min gotten a bit more clingy? Has she gotten a bit more fascinated with her looks? Like when she heard that Hered Fel (spelling?) was dead (due to the gholam), her thoughts turned to the fact that he was a nice man who’s head she had distracted with her looks from his studies.

I was pretty amused with Sevanna & Crew versus Sammael & Graendal – they each think they have the upper hand, are more clever. Only time will tell which of these two groups is more clever, but I don’t think either is going to outwit Rand & crew.

Mat & Birgitte are getting to be pretty buddy-buddy. I like this a lot. I think they should become an item. I think they would both enjoy the company and not having to hide their pasts from one another. Also, I have never really understood women who frown on men enjoying the view offered to them by other women (cleavage on display), especially when those women display too, at least from time to time. So it is refreshing to have Birgitte’s take on such things.

The Fires of Heaven Read Along Part VIII

JordanFiresOfHeavenBannerEveryone, please be welcome to the 8th week of The Fires of Heaven read along. This week, our awesome commenter Eivind came up with the questions (see his thoughts on them below in the comments). We covered Chapters 45-49 this week and a few things changed, didn’t they? Interesting stuff happening all around in Rand Land. As usual, Musings on Fantasia and Coffee, Cookies, and Chili Peppers have joined us.

Spoilers reside below, fully ensconced in each and every sentence.

1. Seems like Mat has made himself the unwilling hero of the day, now with his personal army. What’s in the future for him? Will he ever come to terms with his fate?

I think Mat will need to see something he deeply cares about seriously threatened or destroyed before he embraces his role in this epic fantasy. We saw that with Perrin and his losses at Two Rivers. As to what that thing, place, or person might turn out to be, I am not sure. If Mat had incurred the same losses Perrin has, I could see him getting serious and pulling out the Emond’s Field version of Whoop Ass. However, I don’t think Robert Jordan will play that particular card twice with the Two Rivers’ folks. Perhaps Mat will fall head over heels for a formidable and sensible woman, who is then lost in a flood of trollocs or such. At any rate, it will be interesting to find out.

2. Three books later, and we’re back in Cairhien. How did Rand handle the nobles? Who do you think he means to put on the Sun Throne?

Since Rand is nothing like the Cairhien nobles and not seeking power or glory, he inherently keeps those idiot nobles off balance. Yay Rand! I like that he gave a variety of greetings, glances, and stares just to keep them all guessing who is on his good side and who he is thinking about decorating the city walls with.

As to who will be set on the Sun Throne….well, perhaps Rand will form a Round Table and force the nobles to work together to some extent, needing a majority vote to do major actions. Of course, then they might not do anything, constantly blocking one another, so Rand would have to leave a forceful person there to out vote the entire Round Table when necessary. Hmm…. Ruarc? Moiraine?

3. With two nations and the Aiel behind him, Rand should be more than a match for anyone. Who is next?

Perhaps Tar Valon. It is close and could rear it’s ugly Elaida head any day. The White Tower is probably the biggest organized threat (except for the motley Forsaken) this side of the world. If he gains control of the White Tower, he would have at least broken up both the Black Ajah strong hold and the Red Ajah and their man hate daily tea time discussions. Perhaps I am merely hoping as I wouldn’t mind seeing Rand knock Elaida down a few notches.

4. This moodiness and snapping from Elayne and Nynaeve, is it from the pressure of hiding or something else? Maybe some of the female audience can chime in…

Poor Nynaeve is having a melt down in so many ways. First Egwene and Elayne are acting her equals, and she keeps leading people into traps, then Moghedien spanks her ass in front of Birgitte which results in a major career change for Birgitte, then she is ‘forced’ to wear ‘lurid’ clothing, and lastly, she has to face the fact she is terrified to go toe to toe with Moghedien again. And somewhere in there, she probably had a period or two, and with no chocolate or cool baths. Yes, life does suck for Nynaeve right now as her core Two Rivers Wisdom identity is challenged on all fronts.

As for Elayne, she has the worst of it because she has to share close quarters with the sharp tongued beast known as Nynaeve. So I can totally understand why she is a bit snappish too. Plus, travel seems to unsettle some folks no matter how nice the weather or comfy the accommodations. I expect that Elayne is used to much more comfy, perhaps even pampered, traveling accommodations.

All that aside, this question may be hinting that a certain item, the whosiewhatsit, that reeks of ill-intent may be causing the all around bitchiness, kind of like Samwise Gamgee and Frodo with the One Ring on the their last few weeks heading into Mordor.

5. Looks like Nynaeve sparked quite the mess by having both Galad and Masema look for a boat. Was this at all avoidable?

Masema has been killing people left and right for months now. The White Cloaks have been killing people left and right for years, if not decades. I think it was inevitable that Masema and his followers and the White Cloaks butt heads at some point. Could Nynaeve have staved it off for a time? Not without her full attention and efforts on it. Alas, she was busy working the arrow show in the Menagerie.

6. Who do you think could take Galad on in a swordfight?

Well, Rand, especially if he is channeling. I would also put money on Lan. Also Conan from the R. E. Howard books, Brienne of Tarth from A Song of Ice and Fire series by George R. R. Martin, Joscelin from Kushiel’s Dart by Jacqueline Carey, and Owen Deathstalker in the Deathstalker series by Simon Green and Vin from the Mistborn series by Brandon Sanderson.

Big Mac smiling. He's a goofy goat.
Big Mac smiling. He’s a goofy goat.

Other Stuff:

I like how Melindrha greeted Mat with a proprietorial gleam in her eye. Mat hasn’t gotten use to looking up at a woman yet, either. And I found it interesting that Mat did not glory in Couladin’s head either.

What do you think the timezones are across Rand Land? 6 hour difference from edge to edge? 10 hours? I wonder how that works in Tel’aran’rhiod. Perhaps that could be why sometimes people miss each other – because they are off by a few hours due to the distance between them.

Galad sure did give the ladies sad looks when they seemed so surprised he kept his word. Part of me wants to think that he is sad that he was doubted when he has ever been true in his heart to his oath to Morgase. Part of me suspects that he is sad that his sister and Nynaeve are foolish, lost souls and he regrets having to turn them over to his superiors……in some sneaky fashion that they don’t know about yet.

Nynaeve got a marriage proposal, or at least a proposal for a long term relationship that would involve kids. I have to say that she must be smoking hot to keep attracting these men when she has such a harsh attitude towards everyone, but especially men.