Winter's Heart Read Along Part VII

WintersHeartBannerWelcome everyone to the continuation of The Wheel of Time saga. Here we are with Book 9, Winter’s Heart. As always, anyone is welcome to join us, so check out the schedule if you would like to do so.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Other Tidbits

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

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

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

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

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


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 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 Fires of Heaven Read Along Part II

JordanFiresOfHeavenBannerWelcome back everyone to the second week of The Fires of Heaven read along. This week, Liesel of Musings on Fantasia is our host, so make sure to head over there for more discussion. This week, we covered Chapters 4-9.

Spoilers are jumping around in their birthday suits below. You have been warned!

1. The Wise Ones want Aviendha to sleep in Rand’s chambers. Do you see this leading to any kind of change in her and Rand’s relationship? If so, what?

There’s usually a latent bond of trust built simply by sleeping with, next to, or in close proximity to another. So, yes, even if they sleep on opposite sides of the room with weapons drawn, there will be a build up of trust. I expect the Wise Ones know this and are using it to force a situation or relationship on the two.

2. Our buddies the Darkhounds make an appearance in Rhuidean. Lanfear claims they were sent by Rahvin and reveals to Rand that the Forsaken is Morgase’s manipulative lover. Do you think she’s being truthful?

The Darkhounds were easily defeated, which leads me to believe this was a clumsy, ill-informed attempt on Rand’s life or no attempt at all. As for Lanfear not beign able to get there sooner – I doubt that. So, this could easily be Lanfear trying to manipulate Rand, yet again. She balances this deception with the truth of Morgase and Rahvin, which is probably the more important piece of information for Rand.

3. Moiraine cautions Rand about balefire and promises not to try and manipulate him. What do you think of balefire? Is it worth its consequences? Should Rand use it to take out the Forsaken? What do you think of Moiraine’s promises? Will they work out the way she hopes?

Balefire worked to Rand’s advantage in this case. I think it should come with a caution label. CAUTION: DO NOT USE BALEFIRE SETTING FOR LONGER THAN 1.2 SECONDS. PROLONGED USE WILL UNRAVEL THE HEART STRINGS OF THE WORLD. I bet Rand will have to make a gamble with it sooner or later, much to this reader’s entertainment. If he bruns too long on a Forsaken, and they have such long lives, it could seriously mess up our storyline. I hope he keeps it to a light toasting instead of charcoal.

As for Moiraine’s promises….See, this is where I have to wonder if they is bound to the oath to never lie. She needs the flexibility. Just look at Nynaeve, Egwene, & Elayne – anyone who was outside the White Tower when they were there could full well believe they are full-blown Aes Sedai. Couldn’t this unusual set of circumstances have happened before…. and therefore allow Moiriaine the flexibility of the occasional little fib? Moiraine is a control freak – she wants to control others and also she holds on very tightly to what knowledge she does have, only parceling it out when it suits her. I doubt things will turn out just exactly how she wants them to.

4. Rand’s making lots of changes–his new arrangement with Moiraine, sending for Ogier to help rebuild Rhuidean, making the fountains flow again in the city. What do you think of all these changes?

The Aiel are going to have to grow up and rejoin the larger world. Have water and permanent, stone cities will be part of that. Next will come trade, and hence foreign customs, foods, clothes, etc. I hope the Aiel can show their adaptable side.

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.

5. Egwene is “rummaging” around in lots of people’s dreams and finding disturbing things there. Do you think this is a good idea? Would you do it, in her position? Do you think it could backfire, and if so, how?

I think Egwene would be able to use her slyly-gained knowledge better if she wasn’t such a prude. You going digging around in folks dreams, you are going to see them naked, and with other people(s) or animals or mythological deities. Instead of turning your nose up at it, use that little bit of knowledge for something. I’m not saying Egwene should manifest some popcorn and sit to watch the show (that would be my job after all), but just tossing the info aside means her time was wasted.

I would totally rummage through people’s dreams if I could. I am very good at keeping things to myself, so no need to blush. But I also firmly believe that you never really, truly know someone until you have been intimate with them. Not that that level of knowledge is needed for all your daily people transactions. I think snooping through their dreams would be the next best thing. And a lot less messy (both emotionally and physically).

Will it backfire? Hell yeah! 1) Egwene is somewhat of an idiot because she is cock-sure and innocent at the same time; and 2) Because it will be highly entertaining for the reader, and that is what Robert Jordan does – entertain his readers.

6. Moiraine muses on Lan and Nynaeve’s relationship. She says she’s already “taken care” of certain things. What do you think she means by that? On the other side of the world, Nynaeve and Elayne are drugged by Mistress Macura. What do you think this woman’s intentions are?

Moiraine takes care of everything. She knows that she may not live out this series, and being the control freak she is, she will make sure to continue to manipulate the lives around her long after she is gone – for their own good of course.

Mistress Macura…hmmm more Black Ajah laying traps for the helpful, and gullible, aes sedai traipsing the world? Maybe Macura isn’t aes sedai at all, but perhaps just a darkfriend acting under instructions? If she is a darkfriend, are her orders to capture aes sedai, or just Elayne? Was it just last book where a price was put on Elayne’s head – so this could be that coming into play.

I hope Nynaeve cuts her braid off for her rash behavior on this one ;).

7. Fun bonus! Now that Rand, according to Lan, is practically a blademaster in his own right, he moves quite naturally through the sword forms. There are whole online communities dedicated to these sword forms that love to come up with new, interesting, often comical ones. (i.e. cat and bird in a nap sack, sparrow blinks uncertainly, cheetah runs and trips, etc. You get the drift.) Come up with one or two sword forms you’d love to see Rand perform! Just ’cause.

Haha! what fun. hehe… let’s see:

A Heron’s Failed Landing;

Goats Snickering

Donkey Tail to the Face

Beetle-Entranced Cat

Dog Dances Along Chairbacks

Other Tidbits:

Isendre in a veil, jewelry, and nothing else? Can they really call her a flip-skirt? She isn’t wearing a skirt! And besides, she really is only pursuing one man – Rand. But she made him blush too hard. He will never accept her advances now.

Aviendha and her tantrum over jewelry and belt buckles. Sigh! The Aiel should realize by now, having traveled with Wetlanders for some months, that they are dense folks and need the ways of the world and society explained to them. She could at least explain to Egwene. Then again, Egwene, Nynaeve, and Elayne all have issues with some Aiel customs, such as sister-wives, and can’t seem to be open minded about several of them.

Is it just me, or did the whole Elayne flirting and hanging off Thom thing seem out of place, forced, ridiculous? 1) It seems totally out of character for Elayne. Did some one slip her some Spanish fly? 2) It seems totally out of character for Thom to not have put a stop to it after day 1. If he is not Elayne’s father, does he really want to live that male fantasy of bedding the mother and the daughter (purely for scientific comparisons, right?)? Sigh……

The Shadow Rising Read Along Part IV

JordanShadowRisingBannerOnce again we gather together to enjoy The Wheel of Time and machinations upon our beloved heroes and our dastardly bad guys. This week, Musings on Fantasia is hosting, so make sure to stop by her place to enjoy more fun.

Chapters 18-23 were devoured this week and discussion questions follow below. Spoilers are having a full cook out below, complete with adult drinks. You have been warned.

1) Perrin and Co. are on their way. He thinks he’s headed to his death. What kind of reception do you think he’ll find in the Two Rivers? How long will he and Faile’s stubborn, silent treatment of one another last? (Bonus question: Moiraine made a brief reference to secrets Faile is keeping from Perrin. What do you think they might be?)

I expect that Perrin will both be slapped by a distraught parent and hugged and blubbered upon. He and the rest left Two Rivers abruptly without any word of when they would be back. I also expect that he will be forced to call in some local wolves and be forced to use his axe, and maybe his hammer, for defense. He may cry if he has to kill anyone.

How long will Faile and him remain in this pissing contest? Hmmm…..Until they grow up? Perhaps a decade?

I love speculating about Faile. Perhaps she is royalty. Maybe she is an assassin in training. Maybe her folks are traveling thieves and cut throats. Maybe she escaped from some religious sect. Ooooo! Her father is a White Cloak! Yes, I will go with that because it would cause some serious angst between her and Perrin.

2) What do you think of the Seafolk and their strange clothing customs? Were you surprised to find hidden Channelers among them?

Channelers seem to be every where, and I like this as it means the White Tower does not reign as supreme as they like to think. It also points out once again how the Aes Sedai have managed to ostracize themselves by looking down on and occasionally dissecting Channelers from other belief systems.

For the dress customs, I think equality is the way to go. Ladies should be able to remove their shirts same as men without reprisal (from women or men). And men, if you want to wear skirts, pantyhose, and makeup, knock yourself out. Everyone, the utility kilt is the sexiest fashion statement around.

3) Rand dealt, after a fashion, with the Tairen High Lords, extra export inventory, famines in other lands, Callandor, and a few other things all in one fell swoop. How do you think he did?

He was marvelous. He did far better than I thought he would, and I like how he set his main enemies against one another while still avoiding declaring war on another nation. Rand is turning into an interesting person in this book. Really stressed, a little dark, infinite power (at cost), moral but stuck in a tough situation, and heron scars.

4) Into the Waste. Do you think Rand was wise to use the Portal stones again? What are your first impressions of Rhuidean and the Aiel homeland?

Well, the plot dictates we use the Portal Stones sooner or later, so why not have Rand lead a group through them to Rhuidean? I liked Mat’s complaining and how the Aiel helped Rand pick the right symbol.

My first impressions of the Waste and the Aiel is a parallel to Frank Herbert’s Fremen from the Dune series. Tough in every sense of the word, definitely into water conservation, strong sense of superiority (based on ability). An Aiel will drive herself or himself harder than anyone else, being their own toughest critic.

5) Couladin sure seems to be looking for trouble. What kind of role do you foresee him having in the story?

Is this the dude that had his penis in a knot over allowing Rand & crew to Rhuidean? I’m listening to the book, so I don’t catch the spelling for all the side characters and locations. If that’s the guy, he is wanting to start some shit because obviously there isn’t enough shit running around loose on hoof or wing for him to mess with. I predict that he will raise just enough of a following to cause a minor challenge to Rand. Rand may have to kill him. I hope that happens in single combat and they both have to remove articles of clothing.  Just like Paul Atreides in Dune and his hand-to-hand combat with an uppity Fremen that basically paved his acceptance into Fremen society.

6) The instant they hit the slopes above Rhuidean, there’s lots going on. Aviendha can channel, both Moiraine and Mat end up going to Rhuidean, and the Wise Ones accuse the Tower of coddling its trainees. What kind of learning experience do you think Egwene is in for in the Waste?

Egwene is going to get her ass kicked by the Aiel training. But I expect her stubborn streak will assert itself and she will end up greatly impressing the Wise Ones and will go on to complete her dream-walker training in record time. I mean this series is long, but not so long as to leave Egwene in the Waste for years.

Other Tidbits:

Moiraine got to be in the dark a chunk of this section. She made several sour faces. I don’t think she likes being used, left in the dark, strung along, or controlled through lack of info anymore than anyone she has used the same tactics on.

So, why didn’t the men have to strip butt-naked to enter Rhuidean? I mean, I enjoy the view of athletic humans as I enjoy SFF paintings, so it’s cool that Aviendha and Moiraine have to go running through the desert nude. But, let’s just say it – Equality , folks, that is what I want. Even if Mat or Rand are hairy and pasty white, I still think they should have been required to enter Rhuidean nude too.

The Shadow Rising Read Along Part III

JordanShadowRisingBannerWelcome everyone to the third week of the read along. This week, we covered Chapters 11-17. Post a link to your answers in the comments so we can all visit one another.

Spoilers are throwing a party below. There may be language, references to nude behavior, and run on sentences. You have been warned.

1) Egwene dives back into Tel’aran’rhiod to investigate Tanchico and comes out with an Aiel Wise Woman’s contact info. Egwene kicks herself for not having the knowledge and skill to interpret her dreams. Have you ever given dream interpretation a shot? Do you think Egwene’s plans to train and pass that on to Nynaeve and Elayne will work out as she plans?

I think this was the funnest trip to Tel’aran’rhiod yet! Egwene got several lessons, such as messing with another’s hunting dream can lead to all-over sunburn! I think it is great that at least one of the Supergirls is going to actively pursue some training. But will Egwene be able to pass that on? Perhaps, but I doubt it will go smoothly or as she plans. Something will crop up, and distance and time between Egwene and Elayne and Nynaeve I expect will be a factor.

I have never really dabbled with dream interpretation. In college, a friend told me that if you dreams include anything even marginally phallic, like candles, lying broken all about willy nilly, then you have ‘man issues’. Hmm…. So, what means you have ‘woman issues’ in dreams? Broken clams? *snort laugh*

2) Robert Jordan loves setting up the battle of the sexes, doesn’t he? In this section we see that Perrin and Faile are having a contest of wills. Rand versus the Aes Sedai (Moiraine in particular). Thom versus Moiraine. Even Min! What do you think of Jordan’s use of this?

In Min’s case, I found it very amusing. Her whole disguise and being a helpless airhead – and men were OK with it! But for Perrin and Faile, I found this a bit over done. While initially amusing, I sometimes do get a little tired of the underlying message that men & women are different for two reasons: 1) over done and 2) not necessarily true. So, a bit of it is amusing; too much takes away from the story line.

3) Mat, Perrin, and Rand finally hear about Whitecloaks in the Two Rivers. Perrin feels an obligation to return, tries to break some ties, and then finds out he won’t be going alone. Were you surprised at Perrin’s self-sacrificial take on this situation? Will the White Cloaks get more than they are looking for?

At first, I believed Perrin was going back to defend Two Rivers, not to put himself in a gallows tree! I was pissed at him when I figured out that was his plan. I was worried Rand would be the one to consider some form of suicide, but no, it is Perrin I must keep my eye on.

So Perrin is gathering quite the small, effective strike force to take with him. Faile alone, in her current state of pissiness, would give the White Cloaks a second thought about messing with Two Rivers. But then throw in Loial and the Aiel and now it looks like I might have to feel sorry for the White Cloaks.

I do worry that we will have some Two Rivers death to mourn before this book is over. Will this book maintain it’s PG rating, or will the shit get real and we loose some characters we care about? I don’t expect Perrin or Faile to be taken out this early in the series, but some Two Rivers parents or friends may have to die to move the plot along :(.

4) Ladies and their weapons: We saw some hand-to-hand altercations and some subtler weapons in use in this section. Who do you deem the more dangerous – Berelain or Faile?

Berelain. Hands down. She is not afraid to harm folks to get what she wants, she is driven by power not goodness, and no one expects her to be trained in hand-to-hand combat in those oh-so-sheer and skimpy clothes.

Faile is dangerous too, but she has a strong moral compass that won’t allow her to manipulate people (without very good reason) as Berelain will. She has to have a clear signal that someone needs to be taken out before she’ll take a knife to them with conviction.

5) Of course Mat goes through the doorway! But once he is done with his question and answer session and tossed out, he realizes he wasn’t the only one seeking answers. What kind of beings do you think the folk in the doorway were? What do you think Rand and Moiraine asked and had answered?

Mat, Mat, Mat! If anyone could break a ter’angreal, it would be Mat. Those beings made me think of succubi – beings that feed off the life force or emotional energy of others. Leeches, if you will.

I expect that Rand and Moiraine went into the ter’angreal with specific questions in mind, just as Mat. Rand seemed, perhaps not content, but at least set on a decision based on what he learned. Moiraine gave no hints at all. I am guessing that Rand and Moiraine got the run around same as Mat, but perhaps were asking bigger view questions that Mat.

6) Finally, Loial is back in the story. While he seems to be content as a chronicler, do you think The Wheel will let him sit in a corner with pen and ink the entire book? What do you think of Faile’s twisting his arm to visit The Ways?

It was so very good to see Loial again (chapter 16 folks!). No, I don’t think The Wheel is done with Loial and it’s set up nicely for him to have need to hit the road again – avoiding his mother and her plans to marry him off. hehe.

Faile. tsk, tsk. I think Faile has taken things too far on this one. Yes, Perrin was harsh with her. But dragging Loial into their lover’s spat, basically lying to and manipulating Loial….not cool. Poor Loial is stuck in an awkward position now. And Faile pushing Perrin to the breaking point when she knows that he is trying to get to Two Rivers swiftly, to protect his family, friends, and home town – well, kind of low of her. These two will need counseling after this if they intend to remain a couple. Should I root for them, or just for Perrin at this point?

Other Tidbits:

Moiraine had a summons for Egwene from the Aiel Wise Women…..which she received long before Egwene’s visit to tel’aran’rhiod. Spooky!

We ran into some very, very interesting side characters in this section, but I have to say I am very interested in Rhuarc and his comments to Berelain about their past conversation. I wish I knew the back story on that one!

When Perrin ran into Gaul, who told Perrin that he and some Aiel would be going along, Perrin comments about using The Ways for travel. Gaul’s response, paraphrased – ‘We all must face death sooner or later’ – had me laughing out loud. I hope we get to know Gaul better.

Gawayne and Galad – one is so sweet and one is scary in his convictions, his flirting with the White Cloak way of life.

Thom and Moiraine have a very interesting and revealing conversation about their names. I so very much want a back story on both these characters!

What Others Think:

Musings on Fantasia

Coffee, Cookies, & Chili Peppers

The Shadow Rising Read Along Part II

JordanShadowRisingBannerWelcome back everyone! This week, our questions come from Eivind – and I had quite a fun time coming up with answers. As Eivind doesn’t have a blog, just leave a link to your answers in the comments.

This week covers Chapters 4-10. Yes, there are spoilers below. You can also check out the schedule if you want to join us.

1. The “supergirls” are at an impasse, and they have conflicting testimonials on Liandrin’s plans. Who do you believe? Where would you have them go?

The first question is easy – trust no one. The second question is difficult. I would first see if there is a way to verify any piece of either story and then make a best guess of where to put the limited good guy resources. One story is more disastrous than the other (2nd chatty Black Ajah), so I am inclined to say that is to distract the good guys, to draw their resources away from where they would be needed.

2. Moiraine claims she knows her future husband better than the other girls know theirs (and no, it’s not Lan). What could she possibly be on about?

It is so very interesting to think of Moiraine as a married woman. I almost want to say this is some Min vision that Moiraine has interpreted. I would guess that at some point Moiraine will be forced into a marriage in order to save the world, because until that goal is achieved, I can’t see Moiraine seeing to her personal happiness (or even marrying as a convenient way to provide stability for children).

3. Saidin and Saidar are revealed to be very different things. This is the first time we have some real info about male channeling. What do you think of this magic system?

1) Egwene and Elayne won’t be able to teach or guide Rand as they had hopes. 2) Rand can accomplish a lot, like pissing off everyone in the room, the cleaning staff, and the guards – all in a short amount of time. Way to go Rand! 3) I was a little disturbed when Rand held Egwene and Elayne helpless while he demonstrated his flammatory abilities. Perhaps the taint of Saidar subtly encourages one to questionable uses of the power?

4. Elayne seems to approach this seduction business from a different angle than Berelain does. Successfully so, it seems. Rand and Perrin have both apparently found love. What about Mat? Are there anyone for him?

I was checking out another blogger’s review of Book 3, The Dragon Reborn, and let my eyes flit over the comments. Unfortunately, I read and comprehend quickly. I didn’t mean to, but I now know that Mat will have a relationship that is more than casual. I even have a name. No, I am not going to share here and possibly spoil it for others. I can’t wait until we finish the series and I can safely look at the wealth of fan art.

This is Waffles. Normally she is a sweet, toothless kitty. Today, I am concerned she will burn a hole through me with the Evil Eye.
This is Waffles. Normally she is a sweet, toothless kitty. Today, I am concerned she will burn a hole through me with the Evil Eye.

5. In the depths of the Stone there is a doorway ter’angreal, through which one can get true answers to three questions. Will someone end up using it, and if so, who? What might they ask? What would YOU ask, if given the chance?

Of course it will be used! that’s why it’s mentioned. Will it be used this book? Last book? I’ll have to wait and see. If Moiraine knows of it, there is a chance that other full Aes Sedai know of it, which means the Black Ajah know of it. I bet the Black Ajah want to use it. If they get to use it, I hope they have to pay a steep price for there answers. I expect both the Black Ajah and maybe even the White Tower would want to know if there is a way to control the Dragon as Egwene was controlled by the Seanchan. Yes, I can see a group of women wanting to collar Rand…..for a number of reasons.

6. Trollocs fighting people, trollocs fighting trollocs, and Lanfear in the middle of it, denying any involvement. What do you think happened here, exactly? Do you believe Lanfear?

Hell, no, I don’t believe Lanfear. Obviously, we have some different factions that all showed up to the party. Some want Rand dead, some may just want to capture him – leaving him alive. Lanfear wants to possess him, mind, body, soul, and seed (I expect). So, yeah, Lanfear prefers Rand alive, but she also said that the Ultimate Dark One could destroy his soul. So, if it looks like Rand will be captured by the Dark One’s minions, Lanfear may decide to kill Rand instead of risking his soul being destroyed for all time.

7. Rand promises to announce his intentions the next day. You’re in his place, the future of the universe rests on your shoulders, and you have who knows how many sides expecting you to act in their interest. What do you do?

Well, I would be surprised if Rand hasn’t contemplated suicide as a way to remove him and his immense power from the game board. He may decide to target the Seanchan, as they are a far off foe and Rand wouldn’t actually have to risk lives for a time. He may decide to move to the White Tower and set up a seat of power there. Whatever he tries, I expect things won’t go as planned and I will be highly entertained by everyone’s antics.

Other Tidbits:

While I was rooting for Elayne, I did find it a bit tacky for Egwene and Elayne to orchestrate such a hand off of Rand’s affections. Yes, I understand there was only 4 days in which to get any kissing in, but still… Even a few hours between Egwene dumping him and Elayne picking him up would have given Rand time to react on his wants and not on his roiling, bruised emotions alone.

Thom Merrilyn, Super Secret Spy!

Rand threatened to hang some lords! On one hand, that’s not the sheepherder we’ve been following around for 3 books. On the other hand, I like his determination.

Why hasn’t Perrin or Rand sent for Mat to chat about the assassination attempts on the the three of them? Mat still thinks Rand’s crazy powers are responsible.

What Others Think:

Musings on Fantasia

Coffee, Cookies, & Chili Peppers

The Dragon Reborn Read Along Part II

JordanDragonReborn BannerHello everyone! This week, our host if Liesel over at Musings on Fantasia. Make sure you stop by over there to leave your link and catch her savvy comments.

This week’s reading was Chapters 9-20. Spoilers roam free and eat the unwary from this point on.

1) Perrin saw Hopper in his dreams right after Moiraine warned him to be cautious of them. What do you think it means that he saw Hopper? Should he be as paranoid about his dreams as Moiraine leads him to be?

I don’t really think being paranoid is helping Perrin, just like with Rand. Moiraine and Lan keep saying to be cautious of this and that, but without the background knowledge, it is only making these boys paranoid and freaking them into poor choices. Personally, I like to think that the wolf’s spirit goes on, so seeing Hopper protecting him in his dreams by waking him the only way Hopper could is a good thing. Perrin has folks on his side, they just happen to have four legs, fur, and butt sniffing predilection.

2) Some kind of large, deadly dog was hunting Rand. What do you make of it and Rand’s plans to go to Tear?

I’m listening to the audio….and there’s a large dog hunting Rand? Hmmm….Was that a dream sequence? I always find those a bit vague. Well, if it’s a real dog, and it does catch Rand, I am sure I will make note of it. As for Rand’s plans to go to Tear, same kind of answer as I said for #1. Moiraine provides a great big serving of Be Careful, Caution, Guard Yourself, etc, but not enough background info for Rand to make real good, informed decisions. Her reasons for this are not clear to me. Perhaps she is trying to protect him. Perhaps she is trying to maneuver him. Could be both. Could be Moiraine is playing us all and is Black at heart and we will all be crushed emotionally to find out.

3) What do you think of Nynaeve and Egwene being asked to hunt the Black Ajah and the all-access passes the Amyrlin gave them? Do you think the Amyrlin is wise to trust them and Verin?

See, this section got me all paranoid. Basically, we know Min, Nynaeve, and Egwene are NOT Black Ajah. At least, not now. This is a long series. But the Amyrlin….well, we’ve heard a little of her internal monologue, but not enough to know if she herself is on the Good Guy side. Same for Verin. I really want Verin to be on the good side because I love her geeky, scientist nature. But I could see how she could be all about the knowledge gained and not so interested in good Vs. bad. Unfortunately, I can see Nynaeve becoming all about the payback and not so much about the Good Side in the future. In short, this could get very complicated very quickly.

4) Who do you think sent the Gray Man and who was he aiming to kill? (Who stabbed him, for that matter?) Nynaeve seems to suspect Sheriam of something. Do you concur?

Egwene holds great potential. So does Nynaeve. So, a simple rival for power could have wanted either of them dead. Both those ladies know what was brought to the Amyrlin – the Horn of Valere. So, someone could want them dead for their knowledge. If Verin is naughty Black Ajah, she would be logical. Supposedly, she told the Amyrlin everything about their adventures and the Seanchan. But the Amyrlin never verified that info with Egwene and Nynaeve. So, Verin could be playing both sides. If Egwene and Nynaeve know something that Verin doesn’t want the Amyrlin knowing, then they are targets again.

As for Sheriam – nah. Too damn convenient. Nynaeve suspects everyone expect Two Rivers folks. I hope this turns out to bite her in the ass. Even peaceful villages have dark friends.  I could point my little finger at some folks in my little village.

Pico is fixated on another kitty off-camera.
Pico is fixated on another kitty off-camera.

5) Elaida’s visit to the Accepted’s quarters was…interesting. What information do you think she was fishing for? Between the two, who would you more readily believe to be Black Ajah–Elaida or Sheriam?

Elaida obviously wants Rand, and not in a good way. More like in a vivisection way. But is she Black Ajah? Well, Robert Jordan already was obvious about Leandrin being a bitch and then also Black Ajah. But can we say that all the bitchy Aes Sedai are Black Ajah? I hope not – I hope Jordan wasn’t that obvious throughout the series. So, no; Elaida is not Black Ajah. Sheriam could be, but I still think it was convenient of her to walk onto the Gray Man issue. She would be in the perfect place at the perfect time to take the suspicion from someone else.

6) Once again we find Mat plotting to “get away” from all Aes Sedai. Do you think he’ll succeed this time?

Hell no! He’s Ta’veren. He sounded the Horn of Valere. There is no way the Aes Sedai will let him wander free. Heroic efforts would have to be made to free Mat from their clutches – which could happen. We still have like 11.7 books to go. But for right now, no. Mat is not savvy enough, hasn’t fully grasped the stakes, and is still weak from his near-death. Plus, there may be just a touch of evil left in Mat, which will make things complicated – and entertaining for me the reader.

7) Selene came to visit Mat and when he wasn’t as submissive as she wanted, she started doing something to him that gave him a headache. What do you think it was?

Naughty Selene. tsk, tsk. Normally it is the woman’s role to have a headache at an inopportune time, driving the man a little nuts. Perhaps since Mat was driving her a little nuts, she chose the vicious headache as a form of gender payback. I don’t know how she did it. Certain odors can do so, visual stimuli (like pulsing beams and such). But most likely, since this series is all about the mental powers, she used her enormous will to try to wake to dormant, weakened evil within him.

I know. It’s a piddly little theory.

Other Tidbits:

When Perrin went to Moiraine about his dreams, how he wants it all to stop, and she made that morose joke about being Blue, not Green, Ajah, so she could only have one Warder, I thought Perrin’s blush would last 3 chapters. hehe.

I am a bit frustrated for Egwene and Nynaeve – having nearly everyone at the Tower believe they ran off….when they actually put on their Super Hero costumes and saved the world, with no little cost to themselves.

Gawyn and Galad. Interesting pair. One a goody two-shoes to the point of being slightly evil, and the other too much of a good guy to act. It will be interesting to see what happens with them.

The Amyrlin actually considered NOT healing Mat just so the Aes Sedai could control the Horn. I wonder if Robert Jordan left room in this world for a woman to sound the Horn?

The Dragon Reborn Read Along Part I

JordanDragonReborn BannerWelcome one and all! Here we are at Book 3 of The Wheel of Time Read Along. Book 3 will be hosted by the WoT Quad – Liesel of Musings of Fantasia, Sue of Coffee, Cookies, & Chili Peppers, Eivind – the King of Comments, and myself here at Dab of Darkness. You can check out the schedule over HERE if you would like to join us.

This week, the discussion questions cover the Prologue through the end of Chapter 8, so beware of the free-roaming and ravenous Spoilers with Claws from here on in. Fellow readers, please leave a link to your posts (if you made one) in the comments so we can hop around enjoying each other’s thoughts.

1) Both Niall and Carridan seem to be playing with two-edged swords. Niall wants the Dragon Reborn to create enough panic, sorrow, and destruction to have the populace begging the Children of the Light to do something. Whereas Carridan vows to one lord to keep the Dragon Reborn alive and vows the opposite to another. Did you enjoy this beginning more or less than the first two books in the series?

I love seeing all these enemies stacking up to use or eliminate Rand and his friends. Right off the bat, we get the very real sense that Rand and crew are going to have to go up against some real opponents in this book, opponents with detailed and immediate plans. Also, I like that this book started off where the last book left off (timeline wise), instead of some nebulous history lesson (Book 1 – breaking of the world) or mysterious half-dream meeting of the masqued bad guys (Book 2 – Dark Friends post luck).

2) Throughout this section we see that Min believes herself in love with Rand. What do you make of this one sided romance?

Robert Jordan has told us through Min that Rand’s love/sex life is going to be complicated. But I have to wonder if poor Min fell in love with Rand first or rather convinced herself that she was in love with him because of what she saw in his aura (which is up for interpretation, right?). I have to wonder if Min has had other loves in her life or if this is the first, and since there isn’t really anyone else with her gift for her to commiserate with, perhaps she is taking her fate as given, instead of making active choices about relationships.

Besides, Min would be so cool with knife or bolo skills. And she needs time to develop those, so romance of any sort probably needs to be put on hold for a few years.

3) Within a few chapters, the big picture story arc of this book starts to follow the story arcs of Book 1 and Book 2 – trollocs unexpectedly appear and shortly thereafter our main heroes are separated for one reason or another. What do you think of this pattern?

As with Book 2, this set pattern makes Book 3 feel like an old friend before we even get a quarter of the way into it. I can see that Jordan may have done this on purpose for this reason – familiarity. On the other hand, I am definitely keeping an eye out for a river and potentially a sinking ferry – predictable plot?

Pico is fixated on another kitty off-camera.
Pico is fixated on another kitty off-camera.

4) Rand has run off and some of our heroes follow, tracking him. At one place they come across a village that recently suffered a bout of weddings and Whitecloaks going AWOL. Did Rand make the right choice, leaving? Do you think the decisions made by folks while Rand is around will hold after a few days?

While I can understand why Rand ran away – or at least part of it (not wanting to inadvertently harm friends) – I am not sure it is a useful thing for him to do. Perhaps there is no right or wrong to Rand’s decisions at this point, but simply trying to navigate his way to the least amount of collateral damage.

I have to wonder if the weddings will hold up – Randy Fever may keep them together for a year, but a life long commitment is a much bigger thing. I truly do hope the Whitecloaks that wen walk-about find better lives for themselves and that Rand’s mere presence encourages more of that behavior.

5) Do you believe that Moiraine had not caught fish before in the manner Perrin and Loial ‘taught’ her or do you think it was some clever ploy of her’s?

Either way, she was being clever. By asking someone to teach you a skill, you put them in a position of superiority (Moiraine is such a good kiss ass) but then by catching 3 large fish so easily, she shows them up (forcing Perrin to rethink his near-constant questioning of her decisions and actions). But let me be honest, a little part of me wants to see Moiraine questioning her handling of the Two Rivers folks. Perhaps if they saw her as flawed, and hence, as human, they would be more inclined to put their trust in her.

6) Perrin’s wolfish gifts are growing in strength. Then we come upon a man, Noam, who has lost himself completely to such gifts. Have you ever found yourself in a similar situation as Perrin, facing what you might become if you lack self-control?

Throughout this entire scene I kept hoping Perrin would be able to reach out to him and make some sort of connection, explain things enough to keep Noam from harming folks in general, and to advise Noam to stay away from humans. But things didn’t fall out that way, and it makes it bitter sweet. On a personal note, I have several alcoholics in my family, so I have some idea of what it is to face someone and see the consequences of loosing self-control over a long period of time. Usually, it happens bit by bit and not all at once.

Other Tidbits:

It seems Rand’s power, if not his control, is growing – shaking the earth the way he did. I enjoyed Min’s grumbling about the men being OK with Rand doing that, but not an aes sedai.

The Tinker lady’s philosophy on non-violence was interesting, but not very practical. Can we say ‘Enabler’?

What Others Think:

Musings on Fantasia

On Starships & Dragonwings

Coffee, Cookies, & Chili Peppers

The Great Hunt Read Along Part IV

JordanGreatHuntBannerOnce again we meet to discuss a Robert Jordan book in detail – and so much good stuff happened in this section. This week, we are covering Chapters 21-27 and On Starships and Dragonwings is hosting, so make sure to stop by there for good times. If you want the schedule for the the read along, click HERE.

Cage Free Spoiler Section!

1. Rand had quite a connection with that statue that Captain Caldevwin was digging up. What do you think it is?
I kind of remember this part. It was more of a footnote for me. I mean, they keep running into old ruins, abandoned cities, and leftover statues left and right since they left Two Rivers, so this was just one more to torment Rand with his destiny of saving the world or dooming us all. Was this the large Artur Hawkwing one that Caldevwin didn’t want to chat about? Perhaps its only a relic and perhaps it will be a teleportation stone of some sort. Let’s let Rand sleep next to it and find out.
2. We had quite an informative look into Moraine and Lan’s relationship. What do you think about Moraine’s actions concerning Lan’s bond?
Moiraine has never compelled him before, so perhaps Lan should slow down a bit and ask himself why she has set up a spell to do so upon her death. Normally this guy is pretty level headed, and I would like to see him use that trait now. Think with your mind and experience Lan, not with your pride!
Obviously Moiraine feels the stakes have risen and that either she is in imminent danger from something set in motion recently or she is about to do something necessary and very dangerous. Either way, I expect that I will be highly entertained by it.
3. Poor Nynaeve had to go through quite a lot in her trials. What do you think each were about (especially that first one….)?
Nynaeve is one of those well meaning folks who is highly driven and who honestly believes that if they are not there to see to things, then they will go to shit. So, she is deeply afraid she is correct in her assumption that she was the only competent person of Two Rivers and now that she is no longer there, BAD THINGS will happen left and right without anyone stepping up. I think this shows Nynaeve’s flaw – her pride. We met several competent and well-meaning folks in Two Rivers back in Book 1. It hasn’t had enough time to go to compost yet. Chill Nynaeve!
I wanted to see her go all kissy face and get entangled with Lan before she walked away. But that is probably just the smutty side of me. Sigh…..
Waffles & Streak sleeping in the bed. Yes, I did tuck him in.
Waffles & Streak sleeping in the bed. Yes, I did tuck him in.

4. Reunion time! How do you feel about all these old faces showing up all over the place?

So we have Captain Domon, who is in an interesting pickle with his death warrant. Now we have Tom Merrylin back in the picture. Did anyone else feel that Rand was way more happy to see him than Tom was to see him? Is Tom trying to stay out of Aes Sedai business because he has his own secrets or because he doesn’t want to tackle a myrrdraal again? Hmmm…. I was a little confused by Tom’s luke warm response.
5. Selene sure showed up at a convenient time didn’t she? What do you think she is plotting?
She wants Rand’s lower anatomy. Haha! She wants the Horn, I am sure, and perhaps to turn Rand to the dark side to earn extra points with The Dark Lord. As for plotting, not sure yet because Rand has been foiling her without really trying but by simply being a decent guy……and remarkably inexperienced with women so he doesn’t know how to make a first move and hence get ensnared by Selene’s feminine charms.
Other Tidbits:
Loial sure does seem very cautious about being seen by other ogier. What do you think would happen if he bumped into some? Would they somehow compel him home?
Hurin seems like a good chap, always helping Rand, guarding the Horn. However, I am deeply afraid he is wearing a Red Shirt.