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 I

WOT 14Welcome everyone to Book 14 of The Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan and the final week of this read along. Here is the schedule for A Memory of Light if you want to join us.

This week, Liesel at Musings on Fantasia is out host. Eivind, our WoT encyclopedia, can be found in the comments at Liesel’s. Sue at Coffee, Cookies, & Chili Peppers has fine intellect and a wicked sense of humor.

This week, we covered the Prologue through the end of Chapter 1. Spoilers run rampant for this section and all previous books below!

1. We get a terribly interesting chapter from Isam’s POV in the Town below Thakandar. So many things we could talk about here, including the pointy-toothed Aiel. What stood out to you? What did you think? What do you want to know more about?

There’s a lot going on here. First, I enjoyed getting this little insight into Isam/Luc/Slayer. When he saw the scruffy child across the street, his thoughts about urging him/her to try crossing the desert, that it is better to die than growing up in the Town, were fascinating. It seems Isam grew up in this creepy Town. That explains a lot about his inability to make friends.

Next, there was a caravan (or large wagon) that came in with 13 aes sedai. Isam concluded the ladies had trapped another male Channeler, but he wondered why since the Taint had been cleansed. Now I wonder too.

2. Talmanes becomes a freaking hero in his own right. Will Nynaeve’s healing be enough to save him? What did you think of his antics against the trollocs in Camelyn?

Talmanes is my hero!

I really want him to live but I fear he may have been living with the Red Shirt far too long. Nynaeve is a great healer, but she may only be able to put off the inevitable. Plus, there is this whole Last Battle thing. So, even if Talmanes is now healed, he has to go fight the big battle. He has learned that the best way to take out Myrrdraal is to be dead yourself. This kind of thinking could save thousands, but at the cost of the hero.

I LOVED how Talmanes ‘recruited’ the mercenaries and got them to fight the Trollocs.

3. Leilwin offers her services to Egwene. What do you think will come of this? Will Egwene be accepting of a Seanchan servant?

Well, we got a chunk of Leilwin’s thoughts. She is Seanchan in blood and she is desperately worried that the whole empire will collapse if/when the truth of the Channelers is finally realized. So she is offering to serve the Amyrlin Seat to either 1) show the Seanchan that there is another way and so the nobility doesn’t have to go all suicidal; or 2) she plans to assassinate Egwene to forestall the fall of the Seanchan empire.

Egwene will be stubborn and distrustful at first but, yes, she will accept Leilwin into her service.

4. Bair goes to Rhuidean after hearing Aviendha’s account. Do you think she’ll see what Aviendha saw, or something different? Do you think she was wise to send herself?

I think she will see something similar. I get the impression that each person sees similar things, but not the exact same images. Or perhaps each person can only retain so much of what they are shown, so individual recollections would vary a bit.

Yes, I think Bair is a good choice. She is not as reactionary as some of the Wise Women. Also, she is the one who can walk Tel’Aran’Rhiod but isn’t a Channeler, right? So she has skill and power without relying on Saidin.

5. Evil Mofo Meeting! Taim is raised to the level of Chosen and Moghedien is commanded to “help” Demandred. What disasters do you see arising from these decisions, if any.

So way back in like Book 4 or 5, whenever we first start getting Asha’men, we had a discussion question about them and I couldn’t recall names. So I stupidly went to the WoT Wiki to look up Asha’men names. Under Taim, the sentence about him being raised to Chosen by the Forsaken was like the first sentence. Ack! Big fat spoiler slapped right across my face like 10 books before it actually happens! Ugh!

Now that I have that off my chest, on to the question.

So Taim, Demondred, and The Dark One all want to be THE one to kill Rand. I don;t think any of these guys are team players, so I expect there to be a lot of wrangling for power on the Baddie side. In fact, Demondred and Taim may even decide to kill one another off. All this could be good for the good side, but it also means there are 3 Baddies dedicated to killing Rand. Oh, and Isam has explicit orders from a female Forsaken to kill Rand too. Maybe Isam will take out Demondred? Could be amusing.

6. What do you think of Egwene’s argument about when to break the Seals? Is she right?

Egwene has just won her seat and it was a long hard battle. Of course she wants to be cautious and if the world had even 6 months, I would say, sure, call an assembly of world leaders and argue it out for 3 or 4 months about whether or not to break the seals. But, alas, the world doesn’t have 6 months. Perhaps someone could show Egwene a calendar?

I liked Rand’s chat with Perrin about forging metal. He’s right. This has to be done. It’s going to suck, but it will suck more the longer they wait. So Egwene needs to get her Big girl Panties on, and perhaps some sensible boots instead of slippers, and get ready to kick ass.

7. Rand says it is the last night of peace they will know before the end, and on the morrow he will meet with every leader of the known world to forge an alliance. Predictions?

In Aviendha’s Ruidean visions, the Dragon Reborn’s peace was a theme that was repeated. I think that is what Rand will be forging at this big meeting. And I think this is where Aviendha will have to step in and save the Aiel from whatever inadvertent mistake Rand will make that would doom the Aiel to a slow dwindling death.

Other than that, I am not sure at all what to expect. Perhaps he will give them all a tongue lashing and rousing, inspiring speech all together about how differences and grievances must be put aside in order to face the Last Battle, etc.

Other Tidbits:

The book opened with a crazed military dude and his starving men, who basically mutinied, left him tied to a tree, and walked out on him. I think they are wise, because who wants to miss the Last Battle, really? And metal that has turned to putty! Good thing there are still stone workers!

The Wise Women (and the Aiel as a whole) seem snubbed that Rand told them not to worry about whatever he has planned at the big powwow. But Aviendha was good to point out that his insults have mostly been by accident/ignorance and not intentional slights. Still, the Aiel are stuck believing that their ways are the best ways, 100%. If they don’t get a bit more flexible, they won’t do well in the world that is left after the Last Battle.

We haven’t heard from Padan Fain in some time. Where is he? What is he doing? It can’t be good. And when is Mat going to return and get his Horn? Where is the gholam? elayne just lost a throne, good thing she has a second spare. Tuon is still planning to attack the White Tower and she has Traveling now. This could really fuck things up.



A Crown of Swords Read Along Part IV

WOT 7 BannerWelcome back everyone! This week I’m your host, and you can catch Eivind’s discussions below in the comments. You can find cool fanart of the non-spoiery kind over at Liesel’s Musing on Fantasia and don’t miss Sue’s intellectual take over at Coffee, Cookies, and Chili Peppers.

This week we covered Chapters 13-18. Spoilers Below!!!

1) Bravery comes up more than once in Chapter 13. Aviendha on the water, Elayne offering to discuss Rand….What do you think about how the ladies measure bravery?

I really liked how Robert Jordan used this trait to show the differences in culture. Aviendha belongs to a culture that doesn’t have dealings with the ocean, where such words as ‘sea’, ‘ship’, and ‘boat’ are perhaps even mythical. So, for her to face those ‘myths’ head on takes some guts. Add to that, her embarrassment over sea sickness, and you have a pretty brave woman.

Elayne, coming from a monogamous culture, probably finds it both difficult and embarrassing to discuss her beloved Rand with another woman, a woman who she intends to share Rand with. Right now, this sharing is a private thing, but it has great potential to become very public. So Elayne risks public ridicule too, as many cultures will view her part in the polygamous relationship as scandalous. In some ways, that is brave too. Though I think Aviendha is the little bit braver as she knows nothing of large bodies of water, which can prove deadly.

2) Within this section, we see Nynaeve and Elayne beginning negotiations with the Sea Folk for info on the Bowl of Winds, and yet Rand is still ignoring the Sea Folk. When the ladies find out Rand ignored the Sea Folk for so long, what do you think they will do? Why are the Sea Folk so interested in Rand? And if they find out the connection between Rand and the ladies, what do you think the Sea Folk will do?

Well, I expect there to be a big muddle. Of course each of the ladies will berate Rand for his short-sightedness in their own way. Perhaps Nynaeve will finally tug her braid out. Or perhaps Rand will cut it off for her if she uses her sharp tongue to harshly.

The Sea Folk have their own prophesy concerning Rand, about the Coramor (spelling?). Perhaps they need to verify he truly is their One & Only via some test or special knowledge. Perhaps they need to whisk him off to some secret Sea Folk island and have him chat with their version of Wise Ones. And once verified, I hope they offer Rand their loyalty because he could sure use it.

I am not sure the Sea Folk would do anything if they knew of the connection between the ladies and Rand. I am not sure they would see any significance to it. Right now, I am not concerned that they would hold the ladies hostage in an attempt to get Rand’s attention. At the most, I think they might refuse to deal with the ladies until Rand chats with the Sea Folk.

3) Mat recognized Darkfriend Shiaine and followed her to White Cloak Inquisitor Carridin. In turn, Carridin recognizes Mat, and then tells Sammael. Do you think this will change Sammael’s plans at all?

I had to break out the maps for this question. Listening to the audio, I don’t pay as close attention to where everything and everyone is. With that, Mat and Rand had some plan to draw Sammael out, or trick him, or box him in. If I remember correctly, Mat was to take his army to Illian for this plan to work. But Rand sent it and him to Salidar to bring back Elayne. I think this was meant to be a quick trip, but, alas, Egwene sent Mat to Ebou Dar, and kept his army for the march on Tar Valon.

I think this leaves Rand’s plan in tatters. Still, Sammael seemed quite shaken to hear of Mat in Ebou Dar. He talked of being betrayed, and I assume he means by whatever Forsaken he confided in. He seems to think that Mat is there hunting or spying on him and his agents. Ha! Mat, and his luck.

Still, Sammael seems set on having Carridin and crew continue to hunt for the stash of angreal. But what will Sammael do on his own? Well, I hope that he goes off in a rage at whatever Forsaken he thinks betrayed him and take her (it was a her, right?) out. Haha! Or perhaps she will take him out. Either way, it would be one less Forsaken for Rand to deal with and will completely discourage the Forsaken from working together.

4) Mat and women and the example they set for Olver. What did you think of Mat’s reaction to Queen Tylin’s straight-forward interest? Were you amused by Olver imitating Mat in his interactions with women? Foresee Mat changing his ways?

Mat was pretty darn amusing, in his rakish way, in this section. Mat seems to be comfortable when he is the hunter, when he is the one to decide a woman should be interested in him. So, yes, I did get a wicked grin on my face with Queen Tylin discomfited him so easily. Still, I was glad that he had enough sense to not jump into what might be a deadly relationship. I don’t think he knows enough of the local customs to safely navigate quickly and easily getting out of Tylin’s bed when he wants.

Olver….tsk, tsk. How old is he? Like 8? 10? Isn’t that still when most boys are like, ‘Girls, ew! Cooties!’ and not interested in doing anything more with women than either avoiding them or setting their pigtails on fire? Anyway, it was still funny, and a little sad, to see that Mat made no connection to Olver’s recent bought of bottom-pinching and his own ways of treating women.

Will Mat change? Maybe the Daughters of 9 Moons can get him to modify his behavior, but that will most likely be because he fears loosing his most favorite appendage by angering her and not because his inner inclinations have changed.

5) Why do you think Mat was attacked at the inn and who do you think sent the men?

Mat seems to write off this attack as due to the gold that noble idiot from the race track put in Mat’s room. However, these men attacked Mat, instead of going for the gold when no one was around. And they had that large, apparently empty box. I think that box is big enough to stash a man in, a man as big as Mat. I think they were sent to fetch Mat in a box, unconscious.

As to who sent them, I am not sure. Sammael specifically told Carridin to leave him be, so I don’t think Carridin would be stupid enough to act against that order. And I don’t think Queen Tylin would have to stoop to such means to arrange a secret tryst with Mat. So I turn my eye towards the two Ebou Dar palace Aes Sedai. Jolin and….??? I forget. I believe these ladies are still loyal to Elaida, and bringing Elaida Mat would be a little feather in their caps. Or they might simply question him about the current whereabouts of Elayne and how best to get through the defenses to stick her in a box with a bow and send her off to Elaida.

6) Moghedien seems to be back in the game, at least directing folks from the sidelines. Fallion doesn’t believe there to be a cache of angreal, but Ispan is ready to search for it. However, Fallion has another plan. How do you think that will fare?

If I was a bad guy, and perhaps I am, and a Forsaken told me to do a thorough search for a cache of angreal, I would do it even if I thought the Forsaken was daft. I don’t enjoy pain…..most of the time, but the definitely not the kind of pain the Forsaken would inflict. So, I would search. Hence, I think Fallion will be in for a nasty surprise when not only does her alternative plan fail but when also her refusal to look for angreal becomes known to Moghedien.

And while I do expect her plan to capture Nynaeve and Elayne to fail, as they have casually walked into enough traps in the past to be on high alert for future traps, I do expect her efforts will inconvenience the ladies. Perhaps, it will speed up their search and leaving of Ebou Dar.

7) Rand has women problems, and not because he is bedding too many (at least not yet). Between Berelain demanding she stay, Rand’s ‘tame’ Aes Sedai, and now Cadsuane Sedai, he may need a holiday. Why do you think Cadsuane has appeared and has chosen to show the Dragon Reborn such cheek?

If I understand correctly, Cadsuane is the oldest living Aes Sedai, and has lead a rather secluded life for many years. I think she is testing Rand, to see if he is truly the Dragon Reborn, and to see how violent a man he is. While she pushed him to the point where he crumpled some serving dishes, he did not harm anyone in the room. I wonder why she appeared unafraid of the possibility? I wonder if she has some power or angreal that shields her from those wielding saidin, like Mat’s pendant.

If she is wanting these answers for herself, to help her decide which side, if any, she will take, than I think she will be cool character. If she is Black Ajah or even a Forsaken in disguise, then I expect she will be a pain in the ass.

Other Tidbits:

Did anyone else enjoy Aviendha’s way of keeping the men from looking up her skirts before boarding the Sea Folk vessel? Haha! And while retrieving her knife, she lifts her skirts above her knees. Very funny.

Birgitte! She used that Sea Folk saying, and now they are all interested in her. Most of the time she thinks before speaking, but this must be an unusual situation. Normally, she is reborn into the world without her prior knowledge (until needed?), and she might not have realized this is an ancient saying among the Folk and no longer widely used.

While hanging around outside Carridin’s place, Mat talks with an old man who tells him whose place it is. Later, we have one little snippet from an unknown character, a man who has lost his ability with a sword due to age and who is trying to remember something important. I think these two characters are the same, but don’t know his significance to the story yet. Any guesses?

Someone has been sneaking notes into Mat’s clothes and they are aren’t all hugs and kisses. No, received a very definite warning for the ladies to be cautious. I think one of the ladies playing tug of war with Mat at the palace is responsible for the note, but I don’t know which one.

Alanna needs therapy to help her deal with the loss of her Warders, and perhaps her guilt over her impulse to bond Rand.

The Fires of Heaven Read Along Part X

JordanFiresOfHeavenBannerThe END! Yes, we have reached the End of Book 5, The Fires of Heaven, of The Wheel of Time series. Wow! I wasn’t expecting that, or that, or that. Oh dear. That can’t be good. What the Hell!?! That was my quick summary of the various things I said while reading the ending.

Musings of Fantasia is our host this week, so make sure to visit her for intelligent chit chat and awesome fan art.

This week covers Chapters 54 to the End of the Book. Spoilers – they are big, crunchy, and will stain if you happen to glance upon them!

1. As soon as they get to Caemlyn, Rahvin lashes out, killing Mat, Aviendha, and Asmodean. Later, after Rand balefires him, the recoil in the Pattern brings them back to life. How did you feel about this roller coaster twist? Did you see it coming?

I was sad to see Aviendha dead, but thought it would happen sooner or later to Asmodean. It seemed just a tiny bit nebulous as to whether or not Mat was dead, or just severely wounded and unconscious, so I expected him to pull through. A few books back when Jordan killed off Perrin’s family, I finally felt that this series was getting real. I mean, if the main characters can be killed off, or severely hurt like that, then I really do feel for them, and fear for their safety. So, when Jordan killed off Aviendha, and perhaps Mat, my respect ratcheted up for his writing. It was real; Rand and his entourage are not untouchable.

And then the balefire recoil kicked in, and they are all back, untouched. Sigh…. All I could think was that this would truly fuel Rand’s dual obsessions with protecting/not harming women and also bringing the dead back. So, I expect to see some Rand angst in the future when this doesn’t work as intended.

Little Fella sniffing the book.
Little Fella sniffing the book.

2. Rahvin had a rough afternoon, not that he didn’t deserve it. First he got his face–one to rival Galad’s apparently–melted off. Then he got disintegrated out of existence. How did you feel about how Rand handled Rahvin’s execution?

It needed doing and he did it swiftly. It worked for me. I didn’t need Rahvin tortured for a day or week before execution. Though Rand might have gained some knowledge by questioning him on Morgase and/or the plans of the Forsaken. So, maybe 10 minutes of a torture & question session wouldn’t have gone amiss.

3. Nynaeve captured Moghedien. Again. With an a’dam. What do you think about holding one of the Forsaken hostage with the metal device? What’s your opinion of Moghedien after seeing her at Nynaeve’s mercy in this section?

It seems the Forsaken are pretty much human, with extra strengths, kind of like our heroes. I think Moghedien, and perhaps the rest of the Forsaken, have gone too long without a challenge, and so they themselves have forgotten that they are subject to the same issues anyone would have if, say, an a’dam was slipped over their heads. I think Nynaeve made a very useful tool out of Moghedien, by drawing on her power. Part of me wants to call Moghedien a coward for her actions in this scene, and that is part of it, but also I have to keep in mind that no one (not yet anyway) enjoys wearing an a’dam, and also Moghedien’s fear of both Rand and Rahvin in Tel’aran’rhiod told me as the reader that they were both very, very dangerous. Nynaeve and Moghedien could have both been fried, or worse. I have to say that Moghedien may have been exhibiting a touch of prudence, and deeper knowledge of possible effects of such two powerful entities wandering T’A’R as they were.

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

4. Nynaeve has now openly battled two Forsaken, capturing Moghedien and full on attacking Rahvin, even after being told that he was far stronger than she, being in T’A’R in the flesh. Do you think her actions were foolish or wise? What further role do you think she’ll play in the story?

I think Nyaneve did what she felt she had to do. Perhaps they were all foolish to be wandering T’A’R hunting Rahvin. In that light, Nynaeve was no more foolish than Rand. I can’t see her going back to cleaning chamber pots for the Salidar aes sedai. Perhaps they will want to study her. Perhaps they won’t want to remove that block after all, fearing her strength. Whatever her future role, I expect I will be entertained as the reader.

Moghedien will definitely wait to strike until either she is very powerful or Nynaeve is extremely weakened. I wouldn’t expect to see her again for a while.

5. Rand relayed Lan’s message. Do you think Nynaeve will listen? Do you think Rand will follow his own advice and stay away from Elayne?

Oh, hell no. Nynaeve is too stubborn and has set her sights and her heart on Lan. He won’t get off that easy. Nor will Elayne simply let Rand be. I bumped into a spoiler some time ago, that I won’t reveal here. But, yeah, Rand and Lan won’t be pushing their ladies away that easily. Silly boys. Why do they think they are stronger, more capable, and less harmful without a sensible, loving woman at their side?

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

6. Davrim Bashere (that’s Faile’s father, for those who missed it) shows up in Caemlyn and offers his services and (practically) an alliance with his country. What do you think his motivations are? Do you trust him?

I am trying to recall what Faile has said of her family. She has honor, and while her parents expected her to settle down and get married off, she seemed to speak with affection about them. But Davrim is having to the deal with The Dragon Reborn and doesn’t know the sheepherder Rand at all. So, he might be willing to pull a bit of subterfuge, or other, in the name of protecting his people from The Dragon Reborn.

I wonder if things will change when he meets Faile’s husband? That should be quite entertaining.

7. The murder of Asmodean! This was such a big deal on the forums. It drove fans nuts for many thousands of pages. Who do you think killed him and why?

Well, I think whoever killed him knew he was Asmodean and not just Natael, the Lord Dragon’s harpist. So, that limits the number of folks. Rand, all the Forsaken, hmmm… I don’t think Rand told Morraine, Aveindha, definitely not Mat. Morraine may have guessed, which means Lan may have known, but I think he had ridden away before this. Though, the man does have the skills to sneak back in, kill, and sneak away.

If one of the Forsaken wanted him dead (and that was like everyone but Lanfear – at least before she went through that door), then anyone of them could have ordered one of their slavish Dark Friends to stick a knife in Natael the Harpist, and they would. So, I am going to say this is the most likely. It could even be an order that Rahvin gave to his minions before he had his face melted off.

When nice, she is Bell Pepper. But mostly she is evil, so she is Pepper Corn.
When nice, she is Bell Pepper. But mostly she is evil, so she is Pepper Corn.

8. Morgase is determined to get her throne back, and to not look at Tallanvor with his well-turned calves as a man, apparently. How do you think she’ll fare in either battle?

I expect she will have a hard time on both fronts. First, her people have seen her acting the love-sick fool, turning control of her kingdom over to Gabriel, for several months. I think they will not so easily be ready to accept her rule again.

Second, Morgase is known for her assignations with men – she likes them. So I would expect that sooner or later for her to find a love interest, whether it is Tallanvor or not.

Other Tidbits:

I loved how Nynaeve swallowed her pride and tricked Moghedien – pretending to beg her not to hurt her and then forming an a’dam. It must have taken quite a bit for Nynaeve to 1) beg in front of others (even if it was a trick) and 2) face Moghedien.

The ladies were chatting about something intently with Aviendha before Rand was noticed. I feel so sorry for Rand, because everyone wants something form him, but so few want the whole him. I think Aviendha is pregnant and that the Aiel Wise Women are pretty darn happy about this. I am not sure Aviendha is so happy about, perhaps because Rand may see it as being used.

The Fires of Heaven Read Along Part VI

JordanFiresOfHeavenBannerWelcome back all! Liesel over at Musings on Fantasia is our awesome host this week, so make sure to stop by her place and enjoy intelligent discussion (unlike my asinine comments :P).

This week, we covered Chapters 33-39. Spoilers are waiting below to pounce on the intrepid and naive alike.

1) The first thing we see in this section indirectly, more cat fights between Nynaeve and Cerandin. Nynaeve ends up with a black eye. So, Wheel of Time death match! Who wins?

Are powers allowed? If so, Nynaeve. But I think she would withhold her aes sedai powers unless absolutely pressed, in which case, my vote is for Cerandin. Nynaeve is stubborn and practical, but not trained in hand-to-hand combat at all. Switching errant children doesn’t count. Whereas, Cerandin has military training, including close quarters hand-to-hand.

Can they both be wearing those infamous red dresses in this fantasy death match?

2) Elayne believes she can make a’dam and other objects of the One Power. Do you think this is a good idea? What do you think she’ll do with this ability?

Personally, Elayne is scaring me just a little. She is fascinated with the idea of making a’dam, but not really contemplating if she should, what would she do with the items she makes, how would she keep them out of nefarious hands, etc. Also, a little later in this section we see her contemplating binding Rand as her Warder, potentially without his consent. Hmmm….control freak in the making? If she keeps going down this road, she may need someone to put the a’dam on her for a few days to bring her to her senses.

3) Nynaeve and Brigitte eavesdrop on a meeting of Forsaken, where they hear talk of linking. What do you think these arrogant baddies are planning?

Well, they are planning a trap of some sort for Rand. For some reason, Rand or Asmodean would notice if the Sammael guy linked with the rest, so it probably takes a bit of the One Power. I think this might be like how it takes 13 aes sedai to still another aes sedai. In order to block Rand from the source, like he did with Asmodean, several of the Forsaken will have to be linked and work in concert to accomplish the same affect.

4) Brigitte is ripped from T’A’R and into the human world. What do you think of her as a mortal? Do you think she’ll find Gaidal Kane, even though she wasn’t spun out as she ought to have been? What did you think of Elayne’s solution to save Brigitte’s life?

I like Brigitte a lot. She is even more practical and blunt than Nynaeve, but so much more confident in herself. I think she will find Gaidal Kane and 10 or 20 years age difference in a relationship can be overcome. Folks do so all the time. I think Elayne was honest in that she couldn’t think of anything else to do to save her and I believe she was sincere about releasing her if Brigitte demanded it. I really liked this twist – a female Warder to an Accepted.

Little Fella sniffing the book.
Little Fella sniffing the book.

5) Nynaeve is not acting much like herself. What do you think of her reaction to Brigitte’s plight? How about being talked into being a human target and wearing revealing clothes?

Nynaeve is having a mid-life crisis in her 20s. Her identity has shifted greatly from what she was, and what she expected for herself, to this crazy ride we call The Wheel of Time Roller Coaster with Bumper Cars. First, people started to question her authority. Then she started to doubt and question herself. Now, she witnessed the injury to an epic being and feels responsible. But she has taken it too far, waiting on Brigitte hand and foot, acting like her personal slave. But I think Brigitte has the trick of snapping her out of it. I expect these two ladies will become great companions once Nynaeve gets her head straight.

The clothing makes sense. The show is about the ‘Wow!’ factor, and that includes clothing whether skimpy or covered in sequins. Brigitte is also very practical about this aspect, being proud to be female and not at all hesitant to let people know it.

6) Liandrin is not having such a great day. Are you surprised about where she’s ended up? Where do you think she’ll go from here?

Let me just say that it was satisfying to see Liandrin in such dire straights. To hear her begging, while slightly disturbing, also seemed just. We had not seen her at the White Tower serving Elaida, so it makes sense that she was serving one of the Forsaken. While I had not thought of it, it did not surprise me. I expect that once she gets over the shock of being tied off, at least temporarily, from the Source, she will be scheming and wreaking plans left and right. Some of these plans will be the Forsaken’s plans, which is exactly what I want (evil grin).

7) We finally learn the identity of the Prophet, and he’s someone we’ve seen before. Were you surprised? What do you think of his new-found faith?

Yes, I was surprised to see Uno and then Masema. I had not been paying attention to the Prophet twitterings going on the background, so when Nynaeve stumbled upon them, I was completely surprised. It definitely complicates things. Even Masema’s men are uncomfortable with his religious fervor. Masema does sound like he wants to take things a little too far – telling men & women how to dress, forcing people into mass marriages without knowing one another, etc. I expect sooner or later Rand will have to address this butt blister of a man.

Other Tidbits:

Nynaeve’s contemplations about how the men gather at their campfire except for nights when she cooks. Hmm…I wonder why that is? 😛

Sounds like Elayne was pushing it with the latest tightrope act – where she refused to use the Power in case Moghedien or her underlings were nearby and felt the use.

I like that Elayne told Jullin and Thom most of what was going on in Tel’ara’rhiod, about Moghedien, and some (but not all) about Brigitte. These men have and continue to risk their lives to keep these ladies safe, so they deserve some if not all of this knowledge. I am glad Elayne took this approach, instead of what appears to be the typical aes sedai approach of doling out as little info as possible.

Nynaeve’s inner and outer comments on Uno’s and Ragan’s cussing – I loved it. First, they are soldiers and this is part of their subset-culture, so it is to be expected. Yet, Nyaneve with a few choice words and a few raised eyebrows modifies their behavior, a little. I think it is funny because the men with simple looks and grins modify Nynaeve’s behavior concerning her red dress and the placement of her shawl. Ha!

The Fires of Heaven Read Along Part IV

JordanFiresOfHeavenBannerWelcome all! This week Eivind, our ever fearless and insightful commenter, came up with the questions. We’re covering Chapters 17-24 this time around. For the second week in a row, I am a little behind in the reading. We had family from out of state and some other craziness has been going on in my life. On the other hand, my man is having a birthday today and I will be roasting a turkey in his honor. This means quality time in the kitchen cooking and listening to The Fires of Heaven. I expect I will be caught up by this evening.

With that, keep in mind spoilers are free-ranging below, grazing on the unwary.

1. The menagerie reads like a sitcom on wheels. What are your impressions? Will Cerandin play a role? Do you recognize someone else we haven’t seen for a while?

Haha! I really liked this menagerie scene. Elayne as a tightrope walker makes me laugh. Should be interesting to see what kind of outfit they put her in to show off the legs. Perhaps Jullin will get to show off his legs as well – you know, equality in eye candy and all.

I’m listening to the audio, so I have trouble imagining how some of the names are spelled. Cerandin is the Seanchan in hiding, right? At first I didn’t really like the Seanchan and how they swooped in with their collars, but I do find I like these few remnants left behind to spy and/or hide and try to make new lives. I don’t know what role she will play, but I think it is interesting to see that Nynaeve didn’t outright truss her up. She must be softening.

No, I didn’t recognize anyone else that had been missing for a while… but then again, I wasn’t expecting anyone. Perhaps there is more on the Menagerie in a chapter I haven’t gotten to yet and enlightenment will hit me when I get to that chapter/

2. Moghedien recruits the rogue Black Ajah. Speculations on the orders they were given? Just how much danger is Nynaeve and Elayne in, now?

I expect that 1/3 she sent on important missions – either carrying messages or spying. The next 1/3 were given mediocre missions, such as merely gathering info from well established communication networks – you know the kind of work that requires a little intelligence but not too much discretion. The last third were given tasks for the hopelessly vain or useless such as fetching strawberries from far off gardens, tending to the privy, and gathering goose feathers for a king-sized mattress. All were ordered to learn new bawdy songs and be prepared to sing them aloud to the court.

Nynaeve and Elayne are in plenty of trouble, but this is mostly because they keep ending up in easily avoided traps. Still, if Moghedien had me in her sights, I would be worried.

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

3. Morgase finally escapes Gaebril, with some other old friends returning to the story. Will she ever be back in power? Was Lini as expected?

I loved Lini! She is just the antidote Morgase needed to finally kick the Gaebril habit. She may be the only person who can still treat Morgase like a real person, even give her a bit of well-intended chastisement too.

I was a bit surprised that Morgase had such a high opinion of herself through out this entire scene. I mean, she has managed to alienate, even exile, nearly all her supporters and friends. She is very lucky to have the small following that she does.

4. Rand seems to be having a brewing identity crisis. Is this a manifestation of the madness, genuine memories from a past life surfacing, or maybe both? Do you think his insistence on being himself only will work?

This is where I am in the book. Rand has these memories and insights from his past incarnation as Lews Therrin. I can understand how it would be disruptive to his current life. Still, I keep hoping he will learn to embrace those memories and insights and put them to use, much as he seems to have done with his ability to channel. I don;t think his denial of that part of him will do him good.

But, hey, if I was stuck in the same situation I can’t say that I wouldn’t stubbornly hold onto my current identity and fail to embrace the ancient memories.

5. The Rand-Aviendha plot seems about ready to explode, don’t you think? Is there a resolution in sight?

Haha! I am not exactly sure on this question as I am behind in the reading. But I will tell you that last week I accidentally skipped ahead several chapters. I am listening on Audible, and for whatever reason, my Audible lost my book mark. So, I fired up the book expecting it to pick up where I left off. Nope. I was many chapters ahead, with Rand and Aviendha tucking in for night. I don’t want to say too much because I don’t know what chapter it was from. But I will say, I don’t expect them to have this resolved any time soon.

UPDATE: OK, all caught up. So, yes, they have been sharing a room and trying really hard not to come up with mental images as they listen to one another undress. Haha. Too funny. This book is filled with all sorts of denial. Also, I have to say that Aviednha is not doing a good job of teaching Rand the Aiel ways if he still hasn’t grasped the whole gifting a woman means I am interested in getting married thing. Bad teacher.

6. Our heroes turn back another attack out of nowhere seemingly doomed to fail. Moiraine says not to think the Forsaken simple, but I’m having
a hard time not to. Thoughts?

Sorry to say I have not gotten to this attack yet. I will comment on what I have seen of the Forsaken so far. Once we know which Forsaken we are playing with, then we can guess what they will try. They seem to be like old mountain lions. They long ago found a way to live life that got them what they wanted. Why change? Moghedien has always gotten by on sneakiness. Gaebril what’s his name gets by on pupiteering women of power. Lanfear seems a little more complicated in her scheming, but her desires are simple enough: Power and Rand/Lews naked in her bed.

UPDATE: Sammael and his golden bees. That’s a war cry to make one giggle. I think one could also say not to assume aes sedai are simple, but we notice that most seem driven by one or two things, with a handful able to juggle more than 1 thing at a time.

As I catch up, I will post updates to my answers. Thanks everyone for being so cool about my being behind in the reading for yet a second week.

Other Tidbits:

It’s nice to see that Rand has another heron-marked blade. I can imagine how it has some sentimental value as he lost the heron-marked blade his father had given him.

Mat and his little naked massage going on when the trollocs attack. If trollocs kept popping up in my life as much as his, I might not ever be caught naked & without a weapon.

Aviendha saved Rand’s life and he jumped to some conclusions. The shock of nearly loosing your head one way or another can make you act like an idiot.

The Shadow Rising Read Along Part X

JordanShadowRisingBannerHere we are at the finale of Book 4 of The Wheel of Time series, The Shadow Rising. There were some twists that I wasn’t expecting. We’ll be jumping right into Book 5, The Fires of Heaven. You can see the schedule over HERE if you missed it and want to join us.

This week our fearless and insightful commenter Eivind came up with the excellent questions.

The spoilers don’t want you to avert your eyes, but I suggest you do if you have not read this book.

1. Seems like Rand is not the only one who can stand toe-to-toe against a forsaken. Surprised? Could there be others, and if so, who?

No, I was not surprised that Nynaeve could at least hold her own against Moghedien. I expect we will see others, like Mat and Egwene. Also, we might groups of folks who face a forsaken together and win, like the Ogier. I expect we still have plenty to learn about their culture and strengths.

2. What went on between Elayne and Amathera? Should she lay off the forceful reeducation of foreign monarchs or just keep at it, you think?

I expect it was girl talk. I don’t think Elayne hurt Amathera, but rather, showed her that she really is out classed and that prettily pouting and stamping her little foot won’t get her what she wants. In this case, I think Elayne is doing some good, though I do find it a little hypocritical in that Elayne was sheltered and pampered most of her life and it has only been recently that she has been rubbing elbows with the masses and having to tend to her own needs. Yet, perhaps that is why she feels that such an education is so necessary for Amathera.

3. So we have our first “proper” battle, of many more to come no doubt. Please air your thoughts here, since I can’t find anywhere to put a question mark.

I liked that the women of Emon’s field were present, armed, and competent. They had the children taken into the forest in hopes that they at least would escape the slaughter. It was really hard on Perrin, but he stood with them to the last, never balking. Of course Faile showing up in the nick of time with armed men from Debin (spelling?) was great. She said that she was the first woman of her land to lead soldiers in battle. I didn’t laugh a little as she lead men to  versus in a battle, but I don’t recall her actually doing more than finding Perrin.

4. Could these whitecloaks be any more pathetic if they tried? REALLY HARD?

I have to wonder what all the Whitecloak soldiers think of this. I mean, we have the leaders, who are into ineffectual, single-minded idiots. But what does the average Whitecloak piss ant think? Did they sign up to fight the dark, but then their leaders keep them from taking out trollocs? I would be pissed. Or were most of them coerced into joining and silently sighed relief at not having to join in the fighting? At any rate, they were the best equipped to assist in the fighting and they did not. Loosers.

5. So now (or soon enough) EVERY Aiel knows their history, and many are none too pleased. Was this the right call? How much support has Rand lost now?

Rand had to prove that he had been to Rhuidean, which meant publicly revealing something major he learned there. By Couladin calling Rand and idiotic liar, the senior Aiel who had also been to Rhuidean could immediately tell who was the liar. I think Rand was right to do it in that moment, and I think he was right in what he chose to reveal. The Aiel cannot come together as a people, let alone fight side by side with non-Aiel, without acknowledging their roots.

I expect that initially there will be some who will not want to support Rand, and I know the clan chiefs are pissed. But eventually his Ta’veren-ness will pull them all together, or destroy those who continue to oppose him.

6. With the massive sa’angreal access keys in hand, shouldn’t Rand be able to just steamroll through the next 10 books? Do you think he has a use in mind for them?

Well, we wouldn’t have another 10 books if Rand suddenly became all powerful and could just take out all opposition. So, these sa’angreal will be a boost, but won’t be the answer to all problems. I expect he has a few ideas in mind for their uses, but I bet there is plenty to learn about what they can do, but also their limitations or dangers. I wish they came with warning labels, even simple obvious ones like: Do not cook meat in dryer; Do not hold wrong end of chainsaw; This sign has sharp edges.

7. Asmodean… teaching Rand? On a scale from Kim Kardashian* to Stephen Hawking, how good of an idea is this, really? (*) Please ignore if you’re a fan.

So, I did not see this coming at all, and yet, it is obviously what Rand needs. Not only was he expecting at least 1 Forsaken to try to take him out in the Aiel Waste, he was hoping it would be a man, so he would have a servant teacher on hand. I really like that Rand is using his brain instead of just reacting on gut instinct to the situations he finds himself in.

But, yeah, Asmodean doesn’t seem to be the brightest of the bunch of Forsaken. So, Rand might not have picked the best teacher, even though his choices are limited.

Other Tidbits:

Nynaeve was ticked that somehow Moghedien escaped her bonds without her noticing, while she was busy with one of the Black Ajah and her Bale Fire Stick. I thin Moghedien is a great one for disguise and camouflage, and that she was there all the time but had camouflaged herself in to the background.

Perrin wrote Aiel a love note. Well, a goodbye note. He is more of a romantic than I thought.

Haha! Rand tricked a Forsaken and captured another. I’m sticking out my tongue at Lanfear!