Winter's Heart Read Along Part IV

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.

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

This week we covered Chapters 12-17. Spoilers are having a party below!

1. Elayne gets to ‘entertain’ the worst looking man in the universe, at least as far as her bodyguards know. Do you think that they will actually prove to be any protection against assassins and what did you make of Hanlon’s hints to them that Elayne likes rough men?

I was surprised that Elayne was left alone, all night long, with an unidentified man, especially since the guards did not receive an OK from Brigitte, head of the body guards. So, no, I don’t think they are particularly good at their jobs.

The audio editing of this particular book has left something to be desired. All through out so far there have been several sentences repeated one after the other. But this week’s reading was the worst and I think the audio editors actually left some little bits out of this section. Like I don’t recall listening to Hanlon talking to the guards about rough men and Elayne’s preferences. Though I would guess that he would reinforce this idea as to make it easier for him later to help sneak a rough man in, or out.

2. Any suggestions about what Elayne and Rand were doing to make Birgitte seek solace in a bottle of strong liquor? Do you think it was so shocking that it put Alanna into her coma?

Well, since Elayne and Rand have only this one night together, and who knows when they will get to play around again, I think they probably tried as many things as possible. And I will leave it up to each person’s imaginations as to what that list might entail. 😉

And I think Birgitte was enjoying being drunk enough to dance naked on a table so as to share that through the Warder bond with Elayne as a kind of payback for what she was sharing through the bond. Of course, once Birgitte was dancing nude on the tables, I expect the list of adult acts for Elayne and Rand got a bit longer as Elayne’s inhibitions would have been lowered if not removed entirely. 😉

And I think that is probably when Alanna fainted from the shock of it all.

3. Cadsuane seems to have her hands full with angry Sea Folk and strangely subdued Aes Sedai. What do you make of the Sisters’ sudden decision to support Rand, even the Reds? How angry will Nynaeve be to discover that she is not the only one to be able to Heal Stilling?

I worry about the Reds swearing fealty, especially so many. Perhaps the skill of chatting in Tel’aran’rhiod has spread among the captive Aes Sedai? If some are Black Ajah, I wouldn’t be surprised if their Dark Friends Dream Club taught them this skill. With that skill, they can continue to plot, and part of the plot could be to swear fealty to Rand.

Haha! I think Nynaeve will initially be miffed, and then she will learn it was a man who did the healing, and she will be curious. However, this curiosity will give way to snottiness as she tells the man he is doing it all wrong and making it 10 times harder than it should be.

4. When Cyndane popped up I assumed that she was our good old friend, Lanfear, reincarnated. However, she seems to be too weak in the One Power. Any thoughts about this?

My Lanfear Alarm Bells, so long dormant, also rang when Cyndane opened her pretty mouth. Perhaps going through the angreal portal weakened her. Either she has been reincarnated or she is in disguise – I haven’t figured that out yet. If she is back, that means Morgase Moiraine could be back too. I wonder if Lan would be able to tell (perhaps proximity matters if Morgase Moiraine is also weak?) or if that bond was severed when she ‘passed on’.

5. We finally get to meet the Daughter of the Nine Moons. Is she what you expected? What about Anath: was anyone else very suspicious that Tuon’s previous Truthspeaker died suddenly and was replaced by this unlikely candidate?

The Daughter of the 9 Moons is not quite what I expected. I thought she would come storming into Mat’s life on the back of some winged beast, weapons in hand. This entrance is pretty good too, just different. She is not his usual physical type but seems to have a firm grasp of what she wants. Apparently, she wants him for some reason. Curiosity? Maybe his ta’veren-ness is influencing her libido?

Anath is creepy. I know she is paid to be blunt, but she also strikes me as malevolent. And of course it is suspicious that Tuon’s previous Truthspeaker recently died. So far we have seen lots of hierarchy from the Seanchan and pretty much acceptance of this (especially from the lower orders). But i expect that the higher one climbs, the plots and intrigues that go on behind the scenes. Those Andorran nobles think they know something of scheming! They know nothing compared to the Seanchan!

6. It seems that we were right to suspect that the Gholam would feel a personal need to kill Mat. Do you see any way that Mat can get rid of it? What about Noal: is he only an old man who happened to be in the right place at the right time?

I am guessing Mat will have to be the one to get rid of him. I would suggest the two tried and true methods for dispatching zombies, vampires, demons, witches, ogres, trollocs, myrrdraal, and even wicked humans: stab through the heart and remove the head. He can start by damaging its eyes to give himself a fighting chance.

Was Noal the old man standing outside Shiane’s place that one time? If so, he keeps turning up in Mat’s life. This could be Mat’s ta’veren-ness pulling the old man in again. So far he seems harmless and on Mat’s side. While his hands appear to have been broken at some point, he also has a strong grip. I wonder if he will turn out to be another legend come to life, like Birgitte.

7. Mat meets Tuon and his dice stop thundering. Any ideas of how he is going to end up married to this woman, or will she simply ‘borrow’ him permanently from Tylin?

Haha! Well, it has certainly been interesting seeing the similarities between how the Seanchan treat their pet female channelers and how Tylin treats Mat. i expect Tuon will start off treating Mat the same way and the audience will rally to his defense and set her straight on that. He’s not just a personal pet pogostick to be toyed with.

I was a little surprised that Mat didn’t stop to consider the Seanchan more. I can see why his initial reaction was to be surprised that no event happened, as that has been the case in the past. But then that thought should have turned to the people in the room and their possible significance.

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

Other Tidbits

Anyone else surprised by Min’s visions concerning Elayne, Aviendha, and children? Looks like Elayne will be having twins, whereas Aviendha will have 4 children all at once. Min isn’t sure what this means. I fear it means that either Elayne or Min or both die and Aviendha inherits their children.

If I understood correctly, an Asha’man healed a Stilled woman. I find this interesting because we have had such separation in the powers of the sexes. I think it’s cool, but like Nynaeve, I want to see how it is done.

Moridin and crew know that Rand wants to try to heal saidin with angreal and those statue things. How do they know? Who is the snitch? Or is Rand so blatantly obvious in his moves?

I didn’t really understand Tuon’s veil and the significance of it. I got that she swore to wear it until she got a clear sign, which I thought she did with the porpoises (or was it dolphins) – stay your course! But then we see her later in Tylin’s chambers still in the veil.

What could Tylin’s son be up to? Will Thom help him? There’s going to be rebellion against the Seanchan, isn’t there? Sigh….Thom may get himself killed yet.

Mat really, really, really needs to listen to his own ta’veren’ness when it comes to Rand and Perrin.

Winter's Heart Read Along Part III

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.

Liesel’s at Musings on Fantasia with the non-spoilery fan art is our host this week. Make sure to swing by there and congratulate Liesel on moving in to a new place this weekend. Eivind, our commenter with an encyclopediac knowledge of WoT, can be found in the comments at Liesel’s. Don’t forget to swing by Sue’s at Coffee, Cookies, and Chili Peppers for in-depth analysis.

This week we covered Chapters 8-11. Spoilers are having a party below!

1. The Aes Sedai with Elayne and Nynaeve are trying to convince the Seanchan sul’dam that they can channel themselves and then send them back to Seanchan. Do you think this tactic will work to help bring down the Seanchan empire?

If there were lots and lots of time, yes, I think this idea would help bring down the Seanchan by undermining their command structure. However, as we have seen, the Seanchan are very committed to their command/caste structure and I think it takes something extraordinary to even get a Seanchan to consider an action or belief outside what they have known their whole lives.

And I think Randland is going to need a swift solution to the Seanchan issue as they are very, very efficient at conquering.

2. It seems the Borderlanders are on the borders of Andor. We last saw the leaders making a pact in the Borderlands. What do you think they’re up to and what does it have to do with Andor?

Is this Queen Tenoibia and crew? If so, I think we saw these folks at the beginning of the last book. I think they are pissed that they haven’t been invited to any of the big parties yet, the ones where they decide the fate of Randland. I liken this to Boromir from The Lord of the Rings and his speech about how the lands of the elves, the hobbits, and most men are kept safe by the blood of those living on the border to Mordor.

Or I could be completely off about that, in which case, I am sure someone will educate me. 😉

Aren’t some of the folks blaming Rand for this? And it’s not his doing, poor thing. I think these folks will demand to see him though. I can just see Rand wincing over this one. 🙂

3. Egwene, Nynaeve and Elayne meet in the World of Dreams and there are several people spying on them. Who do you think the multiple eavesdroppers are and what are their plans. Did they hear anything that might be damning to our girls?

Well, we know one lady (who stayed hidden) is working under Moghedien’s orders. She reported some of back to these other ladies (and I have obviously forgotten all their names). I suspect these ladies to be Black Ajah and I think they are in Andor.

The man who resembled Rand didn’t seem proficient in moving about Tel’aran’rhiod. Perhaps it was someone trying to look like Rand (as we know one can change their appearance in T’A’R). So maybe it is one of the Asha’men trying their hand at moving through the World of Dreams while in disguise.

Then there was another lady glimpsed who quickly disappeared. Could have been one of the Forsaken, as she disappeared easily.

And yes, openly discussing that not all the Aes Sedai, especially amongst the rebels, are Oathsworn could be an issue. This little tidbit lets the forces of evil know there are several Channelers open to swearing to a dark lord. Also, if this got out to the Randland leaders, then would any of them trust Aes Sedai in general, ever again? Folks trust Aes Sedai, at least to some extent, because they supposedly cannot lie, nor use powers to maim and kill unless attacked or defending others. Not having those oaths in place makes them very human, but with super powers.

4. Newly captained Mellor is Daved Hanlon! Ahhh! What does this mean? What are he and “Lady” Shiane up to?

Well Hanlon was taked with going after a Queen, and it looks like it is Queen Elayne that he is poised to strike at a moment’s notice. I think Shiane takes orders from a Forsaken and she passes those orders on to Hanlon. I don’t know if they intend kidnap capers or outright death. When (or should I say ‘if’?) Elayne becomes queen, I can see Andor being thrown into turmoil by the sudden death of their queen.

5. At the end of chapter 11, Nynaeve has a “plan” that neither Rand or Lan are too fond of. What do you think it is? Predictions?

I think Nynaeve has been thinking about Rand’s ambitions for cleansing saidin. How could she not be intrigued by this? Of course she wants to do this as it would save so many men from going mad, and possibly heal some that have already gone mad.

And I predict, that once the bad guys figure out what Rand and Nynaeve are up to, they will try very, very hard to stop it. After all, one of the few things the Dark One has to over good men who happen to be Channelers is the ability to keep them sane. Remove that bargaining chip, and recruiting goes down.

6. We might finally get Rand, Min, Aviendha, and Elayne in the same room together. Predictions?

Ah, well, Min left Rand on his own in disguise to deliver his message to Nynaeve. I expect Min ran off to fetch Aviendha and Elayne. I don’t think it will be the foursome I am hoping for as these books are pretty PG.

First, I expect each of them to tell Rand what an idiot he is. Then he will protest that he protecting them, tell them how precious they are. Each will then assert that she can take care of herself, thank you very much. He will point out how he is such a good guy and has kept Elayne’s seat warm for her, has obeyed Aviendha’s rules about avoiding impure thoughts of her naked body, and tell Min she looks great in pants and he would never want her to give them up. This will lead to blushes all around and finally hugs and tears on the ladies’ parts and bafflement on Rand’s part. Eventually, he might get to kiss each one in turn behind a curtain, because he is shy about such things. Then he will leave with Nynaeve to go save the world. Elayne will cross her arms and tap her foot. Min will huff and throw herself in a chair and idly carve love notes into the chair arm with her dagger. Aveindha will break down and tell the other two that she is pregnant.

Or something like that. 😉

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

Other Tidbits

I am not sure I agree with Egwene about the Oaths being necessary, though I can see why she wants them in place, at least for now. People already have huge trust issues where Aes Sedai are concerned.

And I also don’t agree with Egwene about the Kin being lower in the pecking order than the Aes Sedai. Arrogance does not suit her!

I guess Lady Dyelin showed her true colors by protecting Elayne with her little lady’s belt knife. I guess I have to take her off the Maybe Bad List.

We had some great descriptions of Lan in this section….but is it just me, or has Lan gotten bigger, more muscley? He’s always been great with a sword, but I thought earlier descriptions had him rangey. Now he has the shoulders of a blacksmith.

Winter's Heart Read Along Part I

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.

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

This week we covered the Prologue through then end of Chapter 2. Spoilers are having a party below!

1. With Talene’s capture, do you think we have seen the beginning of the end of the Black Ajah? Do you think the rebel moles will do more good hunting darkfriends than they did spreading dissent?

I think it is going to take quite a bit more to bring down the Black Ajah. While they haven’t been the best at planning, they have done a decent job of compartmentalizing. Many only know a few others, and I expect very few, if any of them, know all the Black Ajah. Besides, I want to see some momentous stand off between the Black Ajah and some good guys.

Considering how many Darkfriends, etc. are in the White Tower currently, I think the moles will spread dissent and disquiet by ferreting out Darkfriends. Pretty amusing, if you think about it. They weren’t very good at spreading rumors and dissent on their own. Maybe they saw it as a stupid task. But hunting Darkfriends is real, something they can sink their teeth into. They can do a very good job of causing disorder behind the scenes by forcing the Black Ajah to swear loyalty to them.

And is that messed up or not? What if they had been wrong? I wonder what they would have done after torturing Talene so thoroughly if it turned out she was not Black Ajah.

2. Elayne expects to have to battle for the throne. Do you think so too? Are we overdue for Gawyn to come back? Where is he anyway?

Yes, I expect Elayne will have to battle someone in some way for the throne….just as Rand had to battle various people to keep it safe for her. Of course, she is going to chose to have a fight with Rand over the fact that he ‘gave’ her the thrown. I still find that immature in the extreme. One can acknowledge the effort, the gift (if you must call it that) and still draw the line at allies instead of one being subservient to the other.

But back to Elayne and her real enemies. Yes, folks see the opportunity to yank the thrown out from Elayne’s family line. And why not, with her off doing far more important tasks like trying to seduce Thom, perfecting her high wire act, and pursuing the angreal of all angreals (the Bowl of Winds). Maybe my opinion on Elayne and her ‘right to rule’ are leaking through a bit. I am hoping that she is tested through conflict and that she proves worthy of ruling. Hoping. Not expecting.

Oh, yes! Let’s bring angry, sullen, deadly Gawyn back into the mix! That could be quite fun. Hie heart is torn in two or three between Andor, Egwene, and the White Tower. It is probably time something forced him to chose a side, instead of three.

3. Elayne and Aviendha are ‘born again’ as sisters! What did you think of this birth scene? Do you expect Min to have to go through the same thing?

This scene was way more intense than I expected. Aviendha and Elayne really had to lay everything out there and once having done so, had to decide if they still wanted to be sisters. I was pretty impressed with this scene actually. For every point, good or bad or silly, that the two had to proclaim aloud, the Wise Ones then shot it down, showing how human they each are. I do wonder what the bond will do going forward. Is it something like a Warder bond in that each will feel some of the other’s feelings or pain or inebriation through the link? If so, maybe that is why Aviendha has been so open with Elayne about Rand.

In Aiel culture, do women married to the same man have to be bonded Sisters? Or are they simply just sister wives? I am not sure Min will have to go through the same ritual. After all, she has spent far less time with the Aiel, isn’t as familiar with their culture. Perhaps she will refuse to marry Rand anyway and will just be a sort of friend with benefits. I can see her doing that as it allows her to keep her independence – both from Rand and his wives.

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

4. Taim added a few ‘deserters’ of his own. Can we now finally add him to the evil list? Do you think Logain might be able to do something good? Maybe Elayne will be able to help, now that she has visitor’s access?

Yes, I think we can add Taim to the Evil List even though it is quite a long list and it would be nice to add a few more people to the Good List (but we seem to keep killing off the good guys so it’s hard to get new people to apply). It seems that Logain is already very suspicious of Taim and has collected a circle of guys loyal to him. They also seem to have independent plans from Taim and keep tabs on his comings and goings. So as long as Logain doesn’t get killed any time soon, then yes, I think we can see some good come from him.

Elayne’s access to the Black Tower may be her chance to shine as a leader. After all, many people want the Black Tower dead and buried; let’s see how and if she defends it. Next, there is Taim who is just bad mojo in a nice impressive suit. I look forward to seeing Elayne square off with him.

5. Rand has decided to leave palace life and go hunt bad guys. Are you excited? How do you even hunt someone who can travel anyway? And what do you think his idea is to cleanse Saidin?

Well, I always get excited when Rand leaves his entourage behind. It usually means he is off to do something stupid, and may also mean that he will get his ass beat when he returns to the entourage.

It sounds to me like he is trying to lay false trails. As Min points out, he should lay a trail he wants someone(s) to follow and wait in ambush. Short Min with her knives, hiding in the bushes, tall Rand standing behind a tree, sword drawn. OK, they should sit down and work out some of the details. But for a start, that isn’t too bad. I wonder if they will catch Slayer or Moridin or a Forsaken or two. At least some Darkfreind underlings.

I have no idea how Rand will cleanse Saidin. I can’t see that happening easily. He’ll probably run the risk of burning himself out. Min will probably have to carry his near-carcass back to civilization. Honestly, I think this task is so huge, so momentous, that it can’t happen until the last book. And wouldn’t it need more than Rand, like maybe 13 Asha’men and Aes Sedai linked to carry it out? If it was simple, something a single determined man could do, then it probably would have been at least attempted before if not accomplished.

6. Perrin’s problems are just piling up: Masema will join him, and now he has to chase down Shaido while keeping his own Aiel safe from his other soldiers. Will this unlikely alliance ever hold together, or do you expect some spectacular blow-up sometime?

Blow up. We need one. Since Faile can’t be yelling at Perrin or throttling Berelain while she is held captive, we need some other source for the drama. So, yeah, I can see some of the wool-headed louts in Perrin’s entourage deciding to go after the Aiel in Perrin’s group. The Aiel will not take this well and they are already on edge, having lost some of their own. I am also not sure about Berelain and which road she will take. At first, it seemed she was trying to give Perrin sympathy (in a professional way) but then she went all seductive on him. So inappropriate. I liked that Perrin told her off, but somehow, I don’t think she will take the hint.

Then the wolves are even telling Perrin to let Faile go, to mourn her, and to move one. So sad. But it would be wrong to slap the wolves, wouldn’t it?

Other Tidbits

Mazrim Taim kept stealing glances at Elayne’s bum! While I understand that Elayne wants to handle Taim herself, does she really expect no one else will tell Rand?

Very interesting about the 51 Aes Sedai captured by Logain and his men, and all bonded to Asha’men. Logain himself has two now, and the one bedding him found the experience quite educational and exhilarating. 😉

Very cool to have some steam engines going on at the university. I foresee some Steampunk goodness in the WoT future!

A Crown of Swords Read Along Part VIII

WOT 7 BannerWelcome back everyone! This week Eivind, our awesome commenter, is the host and you can catch him in the comments. You can catch my co-conspirators over at Coffee, Cookies, and Chili Peppers and Liesel’s Musing on Fantasia.

This week we covered Chapters 38-End. Spoilers Below!!!

1. In the Rahad we get a bit of a jumble as Ispan and Falion attack downstairs while the gholam cleaned up upstairs. With so many to choose from, who is ultimately behind this mess? Could the two be coordinated attacks or are they unrelated? Were you surprised that Joline and Teslyn (apparently) didn’t interfere (yet)?

Yeah, that fight was a bit of a jumble. I liked that Ispan and Falion were so arrogant and thought it would be so easy. But with the gholam, the good guys nearly lost the day. In reading it, I did not think the two were coordinated attacks. More, this felt like the Super Girls walking into yet another trap and Mat’s luck played a big role in getting them all out safely.

I think this might be yet another one of those little events were we don’t know who ultimately is behind it. I think we can say Ipsan and Falion were out to capture one or more of the Super Girls to hand over to Moghedien. As for the gholam, I am not sure we will know who is directing the beast-man thing for a book or more (or ever). He seems like a pretty complex thing, so I would guess that only a Forsaken (or higher) could create him.

2. The gholam: Immune to the Power and to blades, with superhuman strength and rubber man abilities, only known weakness is Mat’s medallion. What are your thoughts on this latest addition to the Shadow’s arsenal? How could this creature possibly be defeated? Will it try to avoid Mat and cause mayhem somewhere else or does it maybe have a desire for revenge?

Fuck!

Yeah, that was my first thought about the gholam. The good guys already have a shit list of things to take care of before the end of days or whatever comes knocking on their doors and now they have to add this thing to it? Is there more than one? Can it replicate itself?

Sooner or later, one of the good guys will have to defeat it, or one of the bad guys will get angry with it and destroy it. I am guessing it may have to be Mat who destroys it, since he has this medallion thingy. Or maybe, Elayne will be able to replicate the medallion, or certain aspects of it, and that would at least protect certain trap-prone members of the Good Guy Team.

The gholam was definitely committed to the fight, but will it seek revenge? I am not sure. While it had independent thought and motive for the fight while it was going on, does it have such outside of a fight? I can’t say yet.

3. It seems Elayne and Nynaeve are now left heading a jolly mix of Aes Sedai, Kinswomen and Sea Folk channelers (and Lan… poor guy), heading for a farm not far out of Ebou Dar. With the Seanchan invasion, there is no turning back, but do they even know? Can they escape? Where do they even go? How about the nearly 2000 kinswomen who are about to be seized by the Seanchan?

OK. I am not a fan of the Seanchan. Who is? They are the bad guys from across the sea. But I mean, I have never really clicked with their culture, their motivation, etc. in the plot.

With that said, I am really, really hoping that they get their asses handed to them early next book. I think Nynaeve and Elayne need to mobilize the Kinswomen, give them a minimum of training and a lot of motivation (perhaps a wee demo of an a’dam) and then set them upon the Seanchan. Might even make me feel a little sorry for the Seanchan.

But knowing this series, they will probably go to the farm, have a long rambling way to get there full of traps and other dangers. Perhaps they will get the Sea Folk to help them with the Windy Bowl, and then, finally, they will blow the Seanchan navy out of the water, literally. Ha!

4. With all the girls gone, Mat and the men are stuck in Ebou Dar with uncertain fate as the “storm” breaks, and the dice stop rolling in the same moment. Please speculate here on Mat’s future and the reasons why he must stay behind.

Well, we know that Mat is Ta’veren and he also has these dice that he has learned to listen to. So perhaps he has to stay because he can be guided by the Pattern. Also, he has the medallion and the Seanchan can’t touch him with their captive channelers. So this puts him in a unique position to be able to push back. Still, he is just one man and can still be harmed by blades, arrows, and clubs. I am quite curious to see what mat’s plot line does next.

5. Sammael sees fit to trick the Shaido into scattering themselves over a large area roughly in Ghaeldan, Altara and Illian, but not before giving them an Oath Rod! Incidentally this is where almost all of our heroes are at the moment. What do you predict for them and this trio of distasteful women (Sevanna, Therava, Galina)? Which storyline could they mess up next?

I need to be educated here. What does the Oath Rod do? My understanding is that the Oath Rod is really just for binding oaths, right? So, can the oath be forced or does the Rod only recognize freely given oaths? Can Sevanna and crew force people to kneel at spear point and say an oath over the Oath Rod and have it be binding?

Rand and Min are all in Illian (well, Rand having returned from Shadar Logoth). And Elayne and Nynaeve and Mat are all near Altara being in Ebou Dar or just outside it. I know Sevanna wants Rand in all the ways that are wrong. Perhaps she thinks she can force him into obedience with the Oath Rod and that would make him her first target.

And perhaps Min will place her swift knives in Sevanna’s organs in alphabetical order. Just a thought.

6. Rand wastes no time after waking and promptly brings the hammer down on Illian while Sammael thinks he’s out cold. Do you agree with this gambit? How would you rate this attack compared to the last time Rand stormed a forsaken’s lair (Rahvin)? What do you think about Sammael’s decision to retreat to Shadar Logoth?

Again, Rand didn’t take the time to have a snack before running outside to play. The boy will tire himself out, maybe even faint, if he is not careful.

Sammael was surprised, but I found this attack to be rather vague (see answers to next two questions). It makes sense that Sammael retreated to Shadar Logoth, a stronghold of evil and dark deeds. The last question kind of touches on this, but I will go on here.

The ‘death’ of Sammael was very anticlimatic and not very satisfying. Once again, we have a supposed death and I really, really want to slap Rand for not double checking his work before handing it in. I have this sneaking suspicion that Sammael fled to Shadar Logoth for multiple reasons, and one of them was that he had a fail safe fake death planned, if he needed it. And Rand just fell for it! For that alone I kind of hope that Sammael gets to leave a mark on Rand, to help remind him in the future to always, always take the head.

7. While duelling in Shadar Logoth, Rand runs into a mysterious figure (the “Wanderer”). What do you make of this fellow? Friend or foe?

The Warder deifnitely helped Rand, but this might have been to suit his own needs. He did go on a bit about how if Rand died a fair number of plans would have to be scrapped and recreated later. So, I think that so long as Rand is sane and fighting for the greater good, the Warder is a friend. But if rand ever loses it for real, I think we can count on the Warder taking him out, if need be.

And the Warder threw balefire but Rand didn’t feel him engage saidin. Interesting. If the Warder was using the True Power as granted by the Dark One, then the Warder obviously had some reason for wanting Sammael out of the picture. But perhaps there is an equivalent power source on the light side of things and the Warder was drawing upon that.

Or the Warder is a woman’s soul trapped in a man’s body and was pulling on Saidar. We’ve only seen this happen with the Forsaken, but I guess it could happen with the light side too. Perhaps Moiraine is back, with an extra appendage?

8. Rand eventually kills Sammael and is granted the throne of Illian, giving his personal empire a direct border with the Seanchan invaders (or at least soon enough), setting the stage for a spectacular show. How do you think this will come about? Will they have to be defeated, or do you think Suroth can be reasoned with?

I see the plot going one of two ways from here.

1) Rand has to utterly dominate the Seanchan in battle, shaking them to the core of their empire. I think this would take a lot of time and cost a lot of lives. Since we are only at the half way point for the series, this is a doable path.

2) Rand’s ta’veren-ness steps in again and once he gets to Suroth, she feels the need to kneel at his feet and obey his every command. Hey, it’s happened with others, why not the Seanchan.

It will be very interesting to see where the story goes from here.

Other Tidbits:

I found it very interesting how Elayne and Nynaeve reacted to Mat’s discomfort over Tylin’s aggressive affections. They appear to have had a quiet word with Tylin, discouraging her from further pursuits. I think they would have acted quite differently if Tylin was a man and Mat a woman in this situation.

Haha! It was nice to see Mat throw out the charm and simply tell the Sea Folk how it was to be. Very nice!

Is anyone else biting their nails over Olver?

A Crown of Swords Read Along Part VII

WOT 7 BannerWelcome back everyone! This week I am the host but you can catch my co-conspirators over at Coffee, Cookies, and Chili Peppers and don’t miss Liesel’s Musing on Fantasia. Eivind, our awesome commenter will be below in the comments.

This week we covered Chapters 31-37. Spoilers Below!!!

1) We finally have Nynaeve and Lan reunited. What did you think of the circumstances of their  fateful meeting? Will Lan ever be whole?

It was nice that there was limited clothing. 🙂

OK, for reals. It’s great that Nynaeve finally broke through her power block and therefore was able to spruce up for Lan upon being dragged to shore. I also like that both of them participated in the ‘rescue’ and that neither was fully dependent on the other. Lan was practical in pointing out the recent balefire-ness and getting the two of them out of sight and moving again. He also was very, very brave to tell Nynaeve about Mierella (spelling?).

As to Lan ever being whole, I am not sure. I am sure Nynaeve’s absolute insistence in marriage and a permanent bond ( of more than one type) will help him, but I think he will always have some shadow on this heart and soul.

2) Reanna Corly reveals the number of the Kin to Elayne after being told the Tower will accept any woman who can channel even the teensiest bit. 1,783 Kin. What do you think the ramifications of this will be?

A channeling army of a magnificence that has never before been seen!

But before we can get anywhere near organized enough to do that, we first have to ask all those Aes Sedai who have their heads of their asses about Wilders to please unstick themselves and mature a little bit. Then there is training and organization….ugh… what a chore. If we believe the bad guys to be uncoordinated, the good guys are a close second.

Eventually, after long painful bouts of Aes Sedai staring one another down and proving who’s will is stronger, again and again, we will have an awesome Channeler Army.

3) Corvarla returns to the White Tower and Elaida, with Alviarin in the room, finally learns of Rand’s escape. What is driving Alviarin to blackmail Elaida? What do you think Elaida will ultimately do in response?

Alviarin wants power. She can see Elaida making mistakes out of pride. I don’t think I like Alviarin, but she had Elaida issue the orders to start protecting the Tower from Egwene’s army. Alviarin isn’t an idiot. I’m not too sure why she targeted first the two with angreal, but then also two others to be rewarded. Did she want to discredit all four? Where the angreal two simply convenient? And she has been withholding news & info from Elaida, which is risky – but paid off in this instance.

As for Elaida, she’s already gone quietly to what’s her name to have her start a quiet investigation. Elaida is hoping this investigation will end with Alviarin discredited, Stilled, or dead. But what’s her name is thinking Black Ajah and probably won’t end her investigation the way Elaida is hoping.

Which means Elaida may well be forced to face Alviarin head on. Lots of flashy Aes Sedai power or a simple dagger to the heart of poison in the tea? I bet Elaida could do poison in the tea, and then claim she narrowly missed be poisoned too and make it look like the Tower has an assassin loose somewhere in it’s dark heart.

But ultimately, I expect Elaida to end up dead. Still plenty of the series for that to happen in. It’s on my WoT Wish List, actually. 🙂

4) So Min and Rand FINALLY talk about their night together. Amused? Irritated?

Haha! I soooooo wanted to smack Rand for his assumptions that Min had nothing to do with that sexual escapade. I am so glad Min gave him a decent thump, forcing him into a chair, and then flashed a dagger or two. Min was so right to point out that Rand was acting like Min and her wants and desires didn’t matter, as if he made all the decisions and moves on his own. Dork.

I am glad Min then proceeded to put Rand through a semi-public bath. 😉

5) Rand finally deigns to visit the Atha’an Miere and he takes along Min, and a few ‘tame’ Aes Sedai (Merana & Rafela). What did you make of the negotiations?

Quite frankly, I found this section to be a little dissatisfactory. I know we have heard previously that the Pattern will sometimes force something, no matter how a person fights against it. In this case, it seems that it was used a little too strongly, making it to easy. I guess we need the plot to go this direction, but it seemed a lazy way to do it.

That said, I thought it was very realistic that Rand started to freak out a bit in that small cabin. And it was totally in keeping with his personality to have little patience for haggling with the Sea Folk, if only for forms sake.

6) Once again, Rand feels the need to disappear without telling the Aiel. And into the woods he and Min go….where they run into the head of the rebels, Lady Caraline Damodred. Why do you think Lady Caraline lied about his identity? Do you think that this whole segment was the Pattern pushing Rand along?

I think this was partly the Pattern having it’s way with all involved and partly Lady Caraline wanting to see what the dreaded Lord Dragon wanted. I really liked that Lady Caraline was not all reactionary to stumbling across the Dragon Reborn while sport hunting. I am sure she had lots of questions and wanted to play out the venture a bit to see what knowledge she could gain.

Of course, she was part of the party that escorted a mortally wounded Rand back to the palace and I have to wonder if she is locked up….or was she overlooked and let go?

7) And then the tentacular fog disrupts the hunting feast and sword play. Where do you think this came from? Cadsuane got some good page time in this section. Did your opinion of her change?

I think the tentacular fog is related to Padan Fain who we saw in the feast tent just prior to the fog disrupting things. I wonder if that is what the Pattern pushed Rand to the woods for – to flush out Fain? Or was it to disrupt the rebels? Still unsure as to why the Pattern needed Rand there, and to take such a dreadful wound from Fain.

As for Cadsuane, she really shined in this section. She took charge, kept people alive, gave Rand a good slap to break him out of his Balefire frenzy, and commandeered a turnip cart. I especially liked that she listened to Min’s advice about where to take Rand and why. I am sure hearing of Rand’s recent torture gave her a deeper knowledge of his personality and current distrust of Aes Sedai.

8) Rand manages to become mortally wounded and it takes an Asha’man to heal him. Do you see a future for Flinn and Samitsu (the Aes Sedai who felt the need to pick his brain afterwards)?

I really liked this scene, even though Rand is not fairing too well. Samitsu initially showed some great fear of the Asha’men in general – men channeling! The horror! But then her need for info, her fascination with male power being used to heal, over came her fear. Could be the start of a collaboration…and knowing Robert Jordan, a romance.

Other Tidbits:

Reanna is 400+!!!! I wonder how Cadsuane compares, and yes, I would ask. Tis silly to be touchy about one’s age as not everyone makes it to old age.

If Corvarla is punished harshly for reporting that Rand escaped, it is not going to encourage the rest of the Tower Aes Sedai to be honest about set backs and failures. Elaida is an idiot.

Now some of Rand’s tame Aes Sedai know Min is the one who seems images surrounding people. I wonder if they will poke and prod her on this or somehow use it against her?

Rand did this whole section on an empty belly! He’s been moping for like 4 days, has his little spat with Min, gets his ass handed to him, has  a bath, and then decides to fix the world’s wrongs all in an afternoon – without lunch! No wonder he wasn’t performing at his finest.

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.

Lord of Chaos Read Along Part IX

JordanLordOfChaosBannerWelcome All! This week the WoT Quad is hosted by Sue from Coffee, Cookies, and Chili Peppers. Make sure you head over there for tea & intellect and to see what everyone else thinks of this section.

Chapters 46-51 were covered this week. Spoilers lurk below!

1. So the meeting that we have all been waiting for took place and Perrin met his in-laws. Perrin found the whole thing rather confusing, and I have to say that I agree with him: either Saldaeans are all crazy or it is just this particular family. What did you think of the encounters and do you think he will succeed in ruling his wife in a suitable fashion from now on?

I think once again we see Robert Jordan has all the characters’ hormones stuck at about age 16. Throughout the series, we see this constant competition, or sniping, back and forth between the sexes, and this was simply more of it. Mother and daughter are trying to outwit the men; the men are simply trying to keep up. And then we also have daughter trying to outsmart mother. All together, I think it was a test to see who could be pushed and how far. Luckily, Perrin was oblivious to much of this and simply stood his ground. He’s a smart lad. 🙂

2. Aiel attacking Aes Sedai: what is the world coming to? Any guesses as to who instigated the attack on Demira and why they let her survive?

This could be 1 of 2 things.

1) Some Aiel took in to their own heads and hands to send a message to the Aes Sedai to leave Rand alone. They were smart enough to know not to kill the Aes Sedai, as they simply wanted to get the message, “we can and will hurt you,’ through to them. Bodies are so much harder to deal with.

2) They were either Shaido or not Aiel at all. Whoever they were wanted shit to go down between Rand and the Aes Sedai and what better way to instigate that than to parade as Aiel and wound an Aes Sedai near to death. As Egwene found out, most people never look beyond the garb to see if the wearer is truly Aiel. This is my preferred theory.

3. Ebou Dar is certainly proving to be interesting. Any suggestions as to why Nynaeve is so upset with Mat? Also, what were your impressions of Tylin?

Nynaeve did kick Mat pretty darn hard for little reason when they were all reunited. Nynaeve use to be able to get away with stern look, a sharp tongue, and few hits or kicks back when she was Wisdom. But she isn’t that anymore. And Mat isn’t some punk kid with a badger either. So, I think she is worried that 1) Mat may give her a kick, or a spanking (and not the fun kind) or 2) She will be forced to apologize for her juvenile behavior. We all know how she hates to apologize. 🙂

Was Tylin the Queen? If so, I am so glad that meeting turned out well. She was regal and strong and courteous. Once the ice thawed, they actually had a meaningful and pleasant conversation.

4. Yay, Loial is back and being all nervous and cute about Erith trying to track him down! No need to ask if you are happy to see him, but do you think he will abandon his friends and spend the rest of the War in a Stedding if she catches up with him?

I think Erith will have to come along for the ride. I expect that the Ogier as a whole will be reluctant to join in the Last Battle, but Rand & crew will need their strength and wisdom. Loial, and perhaps Erith, will be the ones to talk or bully or shame the Elders into joining.

It is a quite cute. Loial isn’t ready to give up his travels yet, but he is interested in Erith. Hopefully she is the adventurous type.

5. On a scale of one to eleven, how stupid was Demira’s attempt to chastise the Dragon Reborn by making herself look big and shouting at him? Also, what do you think of Kiruna’s great plans to bring him to heel?

Ah, these ladies. You almost pity them. Almost.

Hooray for Min! If she had not rushed ahead on her mighty steed (Rosey Thorn? What is the mare’s name?), Rand would have been caught off guard. I think things would have gone quite messily then. rand might not have been able to lock down a surprised Lews Therin, and if Lews grabbed saidin and tore lose at the Aes Sedai….well, that would have solved things temporarily and created a larger problem for them to solve later.

Is it just me, or are all the Aes Sedai (even the good ones) getting rather narrow-minded and thinking a little too highly of themselves? was Moiraine the only one with a wider world view and appreciation for things and people not Aes Sedai? So, Kiruna’s plans. Yes. Well, I expect, since they are built on ego and faulty info, they will fall apart and she will rant and fume and perhaps even cry over it. If she doesn’t end up dead.

6. Berelain seems to be trying to give Faile a very good reason to stab her to death, but poor Perrin is getting all the blame, of course. Any idea what Berelain is doing and how Perrin is going to repair his marriage? Do you think Faile is handling this in a sensible and mature way?

First, I think Berelain is doing this for personal amusement – she likes watching Perrin blush and stammer and flee and she likes watching Faile fume and stamp her little foot.

Second, Faile is being a dumb ass. If you trust another person, in this case Perrin, with your life, your money pouch, your bed, your reputation, why not trust his penis? Perrin has given Faile no reason to believe he is interested in pursuing another woman. If I was Perrin, I would be deeply hurt by Faile’s lack of trust when it is so blatantly obvious that Berelain is of zero interest.

How will Perrin repair the marriage? Well, I think it is up to Faile to repair it as she has done the most damage through her irrational and misplaced jealously. But I do expect sooner or later Perrin will have to put his foot down with either one or both of the ladies. Perhaps Faile will get her bum spanked again?

7. Holy boxes of Dragon Reborn, Batman! They actually went ahead and took Rand! I think we all knew that the Tower envoy might try something like this, but were you surprised by how well it worked? Any ideas on what has happened to Min?

That was smooth. Very smooth. Rand has a reputation for taking off without his Aiel escort and without leaving word. So the Aes Sedai reporting that the Dragon Reborn left during their audience raised no suspicions. But gosh, folding a big man like Rand into that chest. That must have sucked!

As for Min….well, she was with the Aes Sedai, so I fear they also have her tied up somewhere….and if she were a minor character, I would be concerned that she would be dead.

8. Now that Rand has been captured, what do you expect to happen? Will someone eventually work out that he is missing? Will Loial Hulk-out and tear all the Aes Sedai’s heads off? Arghhhhhhh!!!!!!!

Well, this is a cluster fuck. 🙁 I really hope that someone notices soon that Rand is missing, but because of his reputation for taking off, I fear that it will be 2-4 days before anyone really worries. And once someone does worry, how will they figure out where he is? I mean, the Aes Sedai aren’t going to stay in place with him, right? They will be on the move.

So let’s say they figure it out this book, I expect the Aiel will all veil themselves, grab as many spears and knives they can carry, and head off in all directions if they don’t know where he is. Loial will probably ride with Perrin and, hopefully, Faile to chronicle their attempt to rescue Rand.

As for the Aes Sedai who did this, I really really hope that Rand gets to punish at least some of them once he is unfolded from the chest. So, hear that Aiel! Don’t kill them all. Not immediately, anyways.

Other Tidbits:

Hmm…marking your kids on your dagger hilt. That’s a new way to ‘notch the belt’.

Demira is being used, and by Verrin. I am not sure I like Verrin anymore. She was the book geek, the scientist, the nerdy detail-oriented, info-seeking Aes Sedai. Now I think she is manipulative on so many levels. She needs a sign: Do Not Trust!

Lord of Chaos Read Along Part VIII

JordanLordOfChaosBannerWelcome all! This week the WoT Quad and it’s fans are gathering over at Musings on Fantasia. So make sure to swing by there to see what everyone else thinks of this week’s section.

We covered Chapters 39-45 this week. Spoilers lurk below!

1. Egwene wants to send Mat to Ebou Dar with Elayne and Nynaeve. Because of his promise to Rand, he goes. What do you think of this situation? Good idea? Bad idea? Where do you think the plot will go–for Mat or the girls–from here?

Mat treats the ladies like they are juvenile idiot lasses with stuck up noses on the public green. The ladies treat Mat like he is some prankster jackass with an errant, and somewhat pissed off, badger. All of these characters have grown since leaving Two Rivers, but they haven’t been with each other to see the changes. So, I expect that they will treat each other as they did back in Two Rivers and I will laugh quite a bit at this. Then they will get into some nasty little fight, perhaps Trollocs or a Myrrdraal, and then they will see what each other now brings to the table.

2. Aviendha and Elayne finally have a…ahem…heart to heart. What did you think of each of their reactions, Elayne’s refusal to “meet toh” and the fact that Aviendha later ended up in a frilly dress?

Well, first just let me get this out of my system. I am still finding it difficult to believe Rand gets 3 women, and that they turn out to be OK with it. After all, they are each headstrong in their own ways, rather possessive, etc.

OK, thanks. Now, setting that disbelief aside, I think Elayne showed remarkable restraint. But I think this was, in part, because Aviendha was so straight forward about the matter, and because she offered up her flesh in payment for her ‘transgression’. Aviendha’s actions were in keeping with her character and I found that believable.

Part of me is amused that the ladies are treating Rand as an object, as if he has no say in how they divvy him up. *eye rolling*

3. Min comes to Rand. She’s obviously trying to win him. What do you think of her methods and his reaction to her? I know in my own (Liesel Hill’s) writing, whenever I try to make a character as clueless as Rand seems to be about Min’s feelings, I always get criticized for it. How does Jordan pull it off? Or does he?

I’m not trying to be all negative this week….but I am not trying real hard to be all positive either. Perhaps I am just an imp.

Anyhoo, Min was not acting according to the character we know and is well established after 6.5 books. So, that was the main problem I had with this section. Faile did this squirming on a man’s lap thing, I could see Elayne doing so in private, but not Aveindha. I am looking for character consistency and that was not present in this scene.

As for Rand, well he was way more friendly and inviting to Min than he has been to any of his friends, confidantes, guards, advisers, horse, cooks, pillow fluffers than he has been since Thom Merrilyn way back in….Book 3? So, again, this seemed a bit out of character. Plus, Min and Rand have not spent much time together at all, so why Rand views her with such open affection was odd.

As for him being clueless at first, that made sense. Again, they have not had much time together. But then he caught on and let her rest on his lap and later even pulled her back down when they were interrupted. As for what he will do with these new found affections – probably try to shove them in a little box and ignore them for next 5 books.

4. The formation of the Black Tower. What do you think of it? The name, the different levels of asha’man? When Rand put the pins on Taim’s lapel and proclaimed him second only to Rand, Taim seemed angry. What do you think he was so mad about?

I, like Rand, am uncomfortable with the name ‘Black tower’, but it fits so well with the themes – good versus evil, the ancient aes sedai symbol on the seals, and of course, the White Tower. I am sure some of Rand’s opposers will see the ‘Black’ in Black Tower and proclaim it evil without looking deeper.

I do like the different levels of asha’man as it gives structure to Rand’s little empowered army, and gives the men something to strive for. So, smart thinking on Rand’s part with that.

I would guess that Taim feels he is equal or superior to Rand, so to be publicly proclaimed a ‘second’ was infuriating to him. Perhaps Taim is also starting to lose his grip on sanity here and there, and it starts with his ego. Hence, this impingement on his ‘command’ struck his ego, his sanity slipped a little, and Rand caught a glimpse of the anger, ego, and insanity that lurks beneath.

5. At the end of chapter 43, we see several of the Caemlyn Aes Sedai manipulating Andoran nobles. And then there was Egwene’s manipulation of Mat. Apparently she wanted to get him away from the Band and keep his soldiers close to her. What do you think everyone’s plans are and how will they play out?

Well, no one’s plans are going to work out as planned. You notice that Jordan in general doesn’t allow plans that lack mutual respect to work out? Whereas those that are a true cooperative act actually stand a chance of happening?

Egwene doesn’t respect Mat’s authority, few respect Rand’s authority, the Aes Sedai are losing authority left and right, and the Andoran nobles are in a jumble. So, yeah, things will not go according to anyone’s plans, and I will thoroughly enjoy reading how things DO turn out.

6. Halima dances with Mat and then tries to channel at him, though Mat comes to the conclusion it wasn’t her. What do you think s/he was trying to do? Can you think of something else significant we learned in this exchange?

I think Halima was trying to Warder Mat. Then she would have some significant intel and perhaps control over a ta’veren and a close friend of Rand’s. Oh yeah, that would make her pretty powerful right there. I am so glad that Mat’s charm flummoxed her.

Well, we learned that Halima is a bad dancer – probably because she is more use to leading than being led.

Then we learned that Mat’s powers of observation are lacking  – asking Siuan to dance! Then being snatched up by Leane! I found this amusing. All these forward, powerful-willed women were so off-putting to Mat.

7. Hooray! Perrin is back! What impressions did you get of his and Rand’s reunion? How about the introduction of Faile and Min?

It was predictable that the men got to talk of marriage and war and the ladies got to sort out who was top dog and who had a crush on who. Though I did find it funny that Perrin’s nose told him what state Faile was in, and yet he had a hard time figuring out why Faile went from jealous to bonding towards Min so quickly.

Other Tidbits:

I am looking forward to Faile’s reunion with her father….and her introducing him to Perrin.

Anyone else find Min’s embroidered pants and little ringlets too cute?

The Fires of Heaven Read Along Part IX

JordanFiresOfHeavenBannerWelcome all to the ninth week of read along goodness of The Fires of Heaven. This week, we covered chapters 50-53. Make sure to check out my cohorts, Eivind’s answers will be below, and then Sue from Coffee, Cookies, and Chili Peppers, and Liesel from Musings on Fantasia!

We’ve got spoilers unclothed and running free below!

1) How long do you think Birgitte will be able to keep her identity mostly secret? What do you think the Salidar Aes Sedai would do with Birgitte if they knew?

Considering the warm reaction Nynaeve and Elayne have received from the Salidar aes sedai, I would not want them to find out about Birgitte. Even though Siuan brought dire tidings, these ladies haven’t really woken up to the fact that there are superior forces out there and also tasks that must be accomplished in order to preserve some part of the world in the coming tide of evil. It’s like the Salidar aes sedai haven’t read the back of the book jacket at all!

As to Birgitte keeping her ID secret…..The longer she is in Salidar, the greater the chance is. However, being bonded to Elayne means that she can’t simply pack a few supplies and hike away. I am hoping that the Wheel will send Nynaeve and Elayne off on more tasks soon and Birgitte will be safe from the prying microscope known as the aes sedai for a while longer. However, there are still plenty of other people who would be fascinated by her true ID, and exceptional abilities. I think Thom and Jullin will have to be brought into this secret sooner or later too, if they haven’t already figured it out.

2) What good, if any, will come out of Siuan’s and Nynaeve’s agreement? Is Nynaeve smoking leaf and reaching for the stars?

Well since these two ladies seem highly incompatible, perhaps Nynaeve will get mad enough to heal a stilling. But will she get the results she wants? Not all cures take you back to your original state. How many folks have completely different hair, or no hair, after cancer treatments? Still, Nynaeve is reaching for the stars on this one. I think part of it is that she is so use to her stubborn manner being unwilling to except another outcome, that she is relying on it still to carry her through.

I can’t see Nynaeve being a particularly good teacher (having a deep set lack of impatience) and I also have equal difficulty seeing Siuan being a good student (inability to follow directions). While these attempts will most assuredly be entertaining for me as the reader, I am sure they will be a huge source of irritation for both ladies! Will Siuan end up walking Tel’aran’rhiod? Perhaps. Will she much about an end up getting someone killed? Distinct possibility.

3) Elayne and Min had a little heart to heart. How do you think this will affect their relationship in the future?

Actually, I felt that Elayne was a little dismissive of Min, caught herself doing it, and curbed it. Still, I can still see her thinking, ‘Why would Rand want plain (in every way) MIn when he has all my charms on offer?’ Hopefully Elayne will continue to keep an open mind and let Rand figure out his own mind about which woman, and how many, he wants to share himself with.

Still, whatever Rand decides, no matter how gentlemanly he acts, I expect there will eventually be some competition between these two ladies. I am still a suspicious of Min’s love for Rand, considering how little time she has spent with him. It could be a super intense crush under stressful times.

4) What do you think of Rand’s latest ways of dealing with the never-ending parade of court ladies?

Wow! Rand, you have come a long way from the sheepherder of Two Rivers and are infinitely more interesting. Part of me cheered his scaring the ladies and part of me was reluctant to cheer openly because it would be impolite. But I did it anyway. He didn’t lie; he just pointed out that he is the bogeyman of all horror stories, and do they really, really want to spend time with such a man? Let alone bed him? Have his children? Have their fate tied to his? Yep, Rand, you cut to the heart of the matter in a few sentences….and then added creepy chuckling. Muuuwaaahahah!

Here's Jake, our Mammoth Donkey.
Here’s Jake, our Mammoth Donkey.

5) Rand received two interesting letters from the White Tower. Should he trust either? How do you think  this latest ‘news’ from Tar Valon will affect his actions?

Trust no one. I think he needs that embroidered on his underwear to remind him every day, multiple times a day. While the letters are each interesting, and he should keep their info in his head as background info, trust them? No. I don’t care what assurities Elaida offers, Do NOT Trust!

Still, the two approaches are interesting. One is clipped, decided, yet polite. The other worshipful, even begging for recognition. I guess if Rand ever needs to get inside the White Tower (openly, instead of simply Traveling there), these letters are his in.

6) Do you think Mat will be scarred for life by the death of Melindrha? What about their last encounter triggered her attack?

Yes and no. I think he will regret the necessity, he may even become more cautious about who he beds from now on. Will he get a Rand-complex concerning killing women? No. He’s a little too practical for that, and also very attached to his own skin. I wonder if his tastes will skew towards weaker women, shorter than him, etc. from now on?

I think Melindrha decided that Mat was no longer necessary as a source of info for Samiel’s plans. Perhaps she even intended to leave his dead body in place to sew confusion, sadness, terror (one attacked in the palace, and that one a close confidante’s of The Dragon Reborn!).

7) Moiraine and Lanfear: they have passed through the doorframe ter’angreal. Assumptions have been made that both are dead. If they are, how do you see that affecting the ones left behind? If one or both were to reappear later, how do you think that would happen?

Well, Lan will eventually end up in Nynaeve’s hands, and hopefully not too long from now. She needs a protector because her ornery attitude is making her enemies. I expect Moiraine’s letter to Thom will have a significant, if private, affect on his life and I look forward to that unfolding. Loial will be crushed, such a big sweetie that he is. I think Perrin and Nynaeve will be shocked in different ways – he may feel that yet one more thing he thought stable and permanent for this ongoing conflict has been yanked out from under him; Nynaeve because she put so much angst into teaching Moiraine specifically that she can’t just yank good kids out of Two Rivers without having a reckoning.

Lanfear was one of the most organized and driven of the Forsaken. I expect some of the Forsaken plans will fall apart with her out of the picture, which will be good for most of our characters. However, she was also, in her deranged way, protecting Rand/Lews. Without her protection, I expect we will see an increase in attacks on Rand.

If Moiraine can turn up later, so can Lanfear. Hmm…. should I wish for it or not? I think I have to for multiple reasons. Moiraine has a lot of knowledge and has backed Rand from the beginning. She has also learned her lesson that Rand and the Wheel will not allow the aes sedai to guide or control him. Also, I feel that Rand needs to face Lanfear on his own. While he has acknowledged his shortcoming (his inability to harm a woman, even an evil one in the act of destroying the good), he has not found a solution for this shortcoming.

8) Rand had a very intense discussion with Sulin. Do you think that Rand will be able to overcome his hesitancy to harm women in light of that discussion and Moiraine’s sacrifice?

I can see that Rand is already starting to think of this shortcoming differently. Sulin & crew are warriors. They have chosen this life and Rand cannot deny them their choice. By refusing to harm Lanfear he ended up sacrificing Moiraine and nearly lost Egwene and Aviendha too. While it was probably a virtue for 99% of his life to never, ever harm a woman, here he saw how that ‘virtue’ held him back from protecting good people. Not good women; not good children. Simply good people. I think Robert Jordan will keep this conundrum going for a few more, if not several more, books. But I am hoping to see Rand face and overcome his deeply ingrained hesitancy for the right reasons.

Other Tidbits:

Gosh, the Salidar aes sedai superiority streak has me wanting them to be faced with some horrendous set back or attack or such just to break that superiority complex! For the first time, I am not actively rooting for the aes sedai. Anyone else feeling this?

I wonder what the aes sedai will find upon testing Nicola and the other lady. Since it was made a deal of, I have to think Robert Jordan does something with one or both ladies. If one is a Forsaken in disguise, I wonder if she will be able to shield her abilities from detection…..

About time Rand told Mat straight up that he needs him and his past lives at his side. Mat obviously doesn’t like it, but at least he now knows that Rand, and the Wheel, won’t easily let him walk away.

Robert Jordan used plenty of foreshadowing concerning Moiraine’s sacrifice, going back….1 or 2 books. When she handed over the letters, I thought for sure something would click with the more logical of our party, like Lan or one of the Aiel. The Aiel know about sacrifice, so even if it clicked, perhaps they would keep silent. Still, I wonder why Lan didn’t raise an eyebrow on that one?

Lanfear is insanely jealous. Not healthy. She needs impulse control management therapy and some deep counseling concerning her possessiveness disorder.

The Fires of Heaven Read Along Part I

JordanFiresOfHeavenBannerWelcome everyone! The WoT Quad continues their Wheel of Time adventures with The Fires of Heaven, Book 5 in the series. Peek over here for the schedule if you think you would like to join us.

I’m you’re lucky host this week and if there are any quirks in the questions, or my answers, I blame sleep deprivation because sleep deprivation is too tired to fight back and say that it is not at fault, haha!

Anyway, spoilers are having a party below. Avert your eyes if you fear that your Wheel of Time innocence will be forever tainted.

1) Elaida doesn’t seem to have as strong a hold on the White Tower as she would like. Do you think her tactics to demand obedience and courtesy will work with all? How would you go about defying Elaida if you were stuck in the White Tower with her?

No, I don’t think Elaida will get obedience from all. She knows that she did not rise to power on her own, and those that put her in power know that too. I do believe she will be able to dominate many of those, but not all. After all, I am reading this for entertainment and I believe Robert Jordan knew that Elaida butting heads with at least one person in the White Tower would greatly amuse me.

If I was stuck in the the White Tower at this time, I would wiggle my way into having some control over Elaida’s food or bed linen. I will let your evil minds run amok with the kinds of unpleasant and sneaky things I could get up to ;).

2) A few of the Forsaken get together at the end of the Prologue for plotting and sniping at each other. Will any of their plans come to fruition? If you were Rand, who would you neutralize first?

I think that whatever Lanfear puts her mind and will into stands a chance of coming to fruition. She is focused and capable. For these same reasons, I would put her at the top of the list to neutralize.

With that said, I can see a few reasons why Rand has not done much to take Lanfear out. She is powerful and has a brain, so Rand might not feel ready yet to go toe to toe with her. Also, she has a vast amount of knowledge that Rand could benefit from, if he could get it out of her. So, on my personal list I will put Rahvin first because he irritates me with treating mere humans as puppets for his pleasure. Oh, and because he is breaking Wheaton’s Law – Don’t be a dick!

3) Leane, Siuan, & Min nearly get hanged for some burnt hay and stolen coin. Each woman chose a different approach to appealing to the judge; whose did you appreciate the most? What do you think of Siuan’s reaction to Lord Gareth Bryn?

While I don’t flash my boobies or bat my eyes at men to get what I want, I do see that it works very, very often. However, in a case like this where the villagers were threatening hanging, I would not be above trying such a tactic. I see that Siuan’s reaction – a mix of fear and defiance – was more effective in a way. Yet, she also peaked Bryn’s interest and he will be pursuing their escape. Poor MIn, in the middle thinking it is all mad and truly concerned about breaking her oath. I had to laugh a little. I mean, these ladies are trying to save the world so I think that obligation trumps doing maids’ work for a few seasons to pay back a black eye, some burnt hay, and some stolen coins.

Siuan obviously knows Bryn for some reason and fears him recognizing her. I smell a romance that was set aside for Aes Sedai glory.

4) Couladin still has not entered Rhuidean, even though it is now open to all. Rand plans to use the Aiel to quell the other other nations before he tackles the last battle. Do you think Couladin & the Shaido could jeopardize that plan?

Oh, I hope so! It would be oodles of fun for me as the reader to see Couladin presenting a major threat to Rand’s plans and then watching Rand quell that threat – with flaming sword, shirtless. He should have a decent tan going on now, right?

I am not too sure how the Aiel will feel about being used as a weapon to force the other nations into compliance. I assume many will quite enjoy the task, but others may feel that it is below their dignity and honor.

Here's Jake, our Mammoth Donkey.
Here’s Jake, our Mammoth Donkey.

5) Rand continues to pluck info from Asmodean about use of the Power and also details about the Forsaken. How much do you think Asmodean is holding back? What little tricks would you play on Rand if you were his ‘guest’?

While Asmodean appears to be the densest of the Forsaken, he would not have survived this long without some tricks, sneakiness, or other useful abilities. So I will assume at this point that he is withholding from Rand – and I think Rand at least suspects this. Good for him. He really isn’t the Farm Boy we started with The Eye of the World anymore, is he?

If I was Rand’s guest, I would first make sure that all his small clothes mysteriously turned to ash. Next, I would do my best to see that whatever he drank, or whenever he bathed, the liquid was just short of what he desired – just enough to be irritating.

6) At the end of Chapter 3, Melindrha hints at things she would like to do by moonlight with Mat. Hehe. What are some of the craziest moonlit excursions you have ever been a part of?

First, just let me say that I am very glad to see that Mat has become the prey in this hunt for love. I think it is good for him.

As for moonlit stories – well there was the time at the golf course collecting markers left by players so they could continue the next day (no, I didn’t know what they were at the time, but as a scientist I took some home to investigate further). I also rode around in a car driven by a blind man. There was a shrubbery involved. There was also that time stuck in an arroyo in the Jeep. Camping with my man under a full moon was great, until the dogs brought a deer carcass back to camp and into the tent. Sigh….the good old days when I still intentionally ventured out in the depths of night.

Other Tidbits:

Padan Fain is over the deep end and now he is near his dagger. I have to wonder how that will affect his abilities once he gets a hold of it, if he does. Of course, this is coupled with my concerns for the Horn, which is still in the White Tower. Hmm…. Mat may have to go toe to toe with Fain at some point.

As some of you know, I was a bit distracted this past week, but what the hell was Logaine up to? Why did he run in the first place instead of knocking a few more heads and getting the ladies out of there? Why wait until they are being carted up to Lord Bryn’s for a not-heroic ‘rescue’? Did I miss something?