A Memory of Light, Part VII

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Memory of Light, Part IV

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, I am the host. Eivind, our WoT encyclopedia, can be found in the comments. Liesel at Musings on Fantasia has cool non-spoilery fan art. Sue at Coffee, Cookies, & Chili Peppers has tiny violins for our bad guys.

This week, we covered Chapters 15-21. Spoilers run rampant for this section and all previous books below!

1) Mat and Tuon finally consummate their marriage. Do you think it was all Mat hoped for? Will Tuon’s ideas for him in her empire pan out? Tuon gets to keep her damane: how do you think Mat will deal with or adjust to this in time?

Tuon seemed more affectionate before she became Empress, back when she was just the head of an invading army and could get a little girlish over Mat’s kisses. I think Mat was surprised that Tuon did not admit to loving him when he said he loved her.

Sigh….Tuon and her cultural need for slavery. It really bothers me. The fact that Mat has rescued (or stolen property) damane in the past will probably come up again when Mat protests the treatment of some of the Channelers. At least, I hope it comes up and I hope it makes Tuon think. I can’t see Mat adjusting to the sometimes brutal methods of breaking and training Channelers.

2) Rand and Tuon have their meeting. Feel free to comment away! Also, Mat and Rand have a quiet little bragging contest. What other characters would you enjoy seeing in a bragging contest?

Wow! I loved that Rand employed his little singing trick to get some greenery going while he was shielded. I am guessing he learned the ability from the Ogier and I am betting the Seanchan assumed he was some how using the Power to make the greenery. This might make the Seanchan hesitant to shield him again in the future.

I also thought it was great how Rand essentially puled rank on Tuon and then also kneeled and offered her peace. I am a bit disappointed that Tuon pushed so hard to hold on to the captured damane when Rand essentially gave her lands in Randland – lands that are not rightfully hers. Well, if Mat gets Tuon to see the error in slavery, then he will win the bragging contest.

I would love to see Lan and Bashere have a bragging contest. Or Moiraine and Cadsuane! Nynaeve would win against anyone purely on her stubbornness and turning her nose up and sniffing at anyone else’s accomplishments.

3) Lan’s battle continues, though he has to give ground. What do you think about his conversation concerning female warriors? Taim has shown his face at Lan’s front; does that change your mind on who might finally get to kill this baddie?

Haha! I loved Lan’s half of the conversation about trained, equipped female warriors in battle. It was generous of him to offer a decent burial to the fool who had issue with women fighting. It’s THE Last Battle – of course the women will fight. Dork.

Way back when we realized Taim was up to no good, I thought Rand would have to take him out. Later, I thought it would be Logain. Then, with Logain captured and weakened, I thought it would be Androl. But now Taim is far from any of those guys. However, we also know that Egwene plans to send the Red Sisters hanging out at the Black Tower to Lan, so I think there is still a chance that Androl (along with Pevara and the Reds with their newly Bonded men) will get to face Taim. I am hoping Androl opens a teeny tiny gateway right in the middle of Taim’s black heart. Or his brain.

4) Do you think there is any significant Dark Friend left in Rand’s forces, in disguise/hiding? Lan was asked to keep an eye on Aglemar and Aviendha doesn’t care for Al’salam. Is it just so many cultures being thrown together? Or do we have reason to be suspicious of something darker?

We know that Demandred is still out there some where, but I think he might be leading the Sharran forces (see Q.6). But I also worry that there are one or more Dark Friends in key positions. Rand seems to be able to look into the hearts of men and tell if they are Dark Friends, but he needs to be facing them and perhaps even concentrating on them to tell. So there’s a who slew of folks he hasn’t been able to do that with.

I can’t recall if he has taken the time to face Al’salam, but since he is at Shayol Ghul with Rand, and is a relatively unknown and untested character, I would be concerned about him.

I expect Aglemar is simply weary like everyone else. Mistakes will happen.

5) In a short conversation with Egwene and Gawyn, Rand reveals that he is Galad’s half-brother and that the seals are fakes. Which do you think caused Gawyn more grief? Who do you think switched the seals and for what purpose?

Haha! I think Gawyn might be a little ill over learning that his half brother Galad is also half brother to Rand. He was perturbed enough to learn of Elayne’s liking for Rand.

So Rand says the seals are fake, but only he can tell. The fakes would have to be made of cuendillar to pass for real. Egwene and some of the Aes Sedai she trained can make cuendillar, but I am not sure they can shape it to closely resemble the real seals. Rand was pretty open with the info concerning breaking the seals, so I can see a lot of people wanting to steal the seals and keep them save. yet very few people, if any, would have the ability to make convincing fakes and swap them.

So perhaps Rand is lying. But why? Does he need the misdirection? Is it, in part, to keep Egwene safe? If everyone believes the seals to be fake, then Egwene is less of a target. But I think only Gawyn and Aviendha have heard the news. So, I lean towards Rand going for misdirection, but I am not totally sure why. And who would he leave word with to tell Egwene they are real and should be broken? Argh!

6) Bashere and Elayne are trying to outmaneuver 2 armies of trollocs. Meanwhile, Egwene’s forces are routed by the sudden appearance of the Sharran army. Will the forces of good be able to recover prior to Rand’s duel with the Dark One? Any ‘in retrospect’ comments concerning the Sharrans? Did you see that coming?

I am thinking the forces of good will be fighting by the skin of their teeth while Rand fights the DO. Even though Elayne and Bashere have a plan, something else will come up. Even though Rand has asked the Seanchan to join Egwene’s forces, I don’t think they will totally annihilate the Sharran army. Nope. This is epic fantasy, and the climax of a very long series. We need to have blood and death and the chance that things won’t turn out good in order for the end of the battle, when the good have won, to make us cheer.

I didn’t see the Sharrans showing up and fighting for the forces of evil. They have been mentioned briefly here and there throughout the series, but never in any major detail. We knew they had some Channelers, but I can’t recall the details. Honestly, it kind of felt like a weak plot ploy to help move things along.

7) Lorella Aes Sedai and the rest of the Reds hanging around outside the Black Tower insist on Bonding their promised 47 male Channelers. Egwene has sent riders to fetch them back in order to send them to Lan. Are we about to see the moment the purpose of the Reds changes? Do you think Pevara and Androl have shared the double Bonding technique with the male Channelers?

Yes! I think we are about to see that magical event that takes the bitchy, man-hating Reds and turns them into an awesome fighting force that will make adult Channelers tremble in their boots! Hooray! I expect great things from these small-minded women.

I am really hoping that Pevara and Androl have shared the double Bond idea with the other guys. I expect the ladies will get a few surprises more than they expected. Lorella, and perhaps most of the Reds, are going into this expecting being able to control their Bonded men to some extent. Haha! I expect to be amused by their attempts to order the men around.

Other Tidbits:

That practice session between Tam and Rand, with Tam’s new sword, was great. Rand initially wanted the Asha’men to train with weapons because it would give you an edge if you couldn’t access the power, or were weak. It seems Rand was slipping into that idea of ‘I have the Power, why bother with the sword’ and it was good to see Tam pull him out of that.

Some of the Whitecloaks felt the Ogier were little more than Trollocs and worried about them turning and fighting the humans. Silly! I am glad to see Galad keeping them in check.

Rand plans to not just capture or contain, but kill the Dark One. I always think of such supreme forces as akin to Elementals – it would be like trying to kill Mother Nature or Father Time. How would you do it? Should you do it? I thought it interesting that Aviendha counseled that it was more honorable to take the DO as gai’shain.

Gawyn has leanred a bit more about the Seanchan assassin rings. I know he feels underutilized, at least until the Sharran showed up, and I worry he will use one or more of the rings in some heroic effort, and he will die, and Egwene will cry.

A Memory of Light, Part III

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, Eivind, our WoT encyclopedia, is our host this week and can be found in the comments. Liesel at Musings on Fantasia has cool non-spoilery fan art. Sue at Coffee, Cookies, & Chili Peppers has tiny violins for our bad guys.

This week, we covered Chapters 8-14. Spoilers run rampant for this section and all previous books below!

1.  Rand is traveling around, giving precious gifts to Elayne and Lan (so far.)  Is this his way of saying goodbye, his final will? Do you think he is being unnecessarily fatalistic?

Yes, I think this is one way in which Rand is saying goodbye, and no, I don’t think he is being fatalistic. It’s the Last Battle. Any and all could die and it is a big hairy deal to everyone. For many, it will be the last thing they do – though I hope we don’t lose any of the main characters.

My fatalistic side is afraid that Perrin may be the one to fall…..but I may just be overly worried about losing my favorite character of the series.

2.  Egwene stands strong in Kandor, but the other two battlefields are suffering setbacks.  Do you think the Light has to do something drastic, or will they be able to weather the storm with the current plan?

I expect there will need to be something drastic, otherwise this will be a very long and boring book. 🙂 If Tarwin’s Gap falls, and if they can’t reclaim Caemlyn and close off the Waygate, then a whole lot of people will be screwed. But, at the same time, our heroes will have to realize that they can’t save everyone. They simply need to save enough and defeat the evil in order to be able to rebuild.

3.  Mat joins the story, on his way to Tuon in Ebou Dar.  Will the “Seanchan Question” finally be resolved?  Rand seems to be hesitating, too…

The Seanchan question has to be resolved before the end of this book, and I expect that Mat will be instrumental in that. I have to wonder if the married couple need to exchange some boon or such in order to be completely wedded. Maybe Mat could ask Tuon to stop conquering and enslaving folks as his boon?

4.  Rand takes his turn on the battlefield, but is turned back.  Do you expect him to try again, or is this the last we see of him on the field before the invasion of Shayol Ghul?

I have a hard time seeing Rand sitting things out. While I can understand the logic – he needs to minimize the chances of being taken out by a baddie and also conserve his strength, he still has this big bleeding heart that makes him think he needs to protect everyone. Besides, it is more fun (or nerve racking) seeing him risk his neck.

5.  Perrin leaves and takes the battle to the World of Dreams… in the flesh.  Do you think it is as evil as it’s claimed?  Did you like his speech?  Was it wise to bring Gaul, untrained, to this fight?

I think Perrin has the right of it. It doesn’t smell evil to go into the Dream World in body, but it is very risky. And, obviously, it has been used by evil people for evil deeds.

Perrin’s speech was very cool. To the point and I think it crystallized some things for Rand – there are no ‘good’ choices left.

I think it was wise to take Gaul. He is good in strange circumstances and should be able to handle most things on the fly. However, I do worry that he is the Red Shirt for this adventure.

6.  Lanfear makes another plea to Rand, and he lets her into his mind to prove he is over her.  She then appears in the World of Dreams to pester Perrin.  What game is she really playing at?

She’s looking for a protector that is also a patsy – she needs help getting out of her predicament but also wants to control/use her would-be rescuer. Since Rand is obviously not going to assist her and can’t be manipulated by her, she has to find someone else.

Of course, I think the Wheel will Weave her actions into the Pattern for the good of our heroes and Lanfear may very well end up ‘assisting’ the good guys even though that is not her intention.

7.  We find out how people are turned to the Shadow.  What do you think of this mechanism?  Are the turned really turned, or just taken over, as Androl seems to think?

It seems that if a person is willing to be Stilled (or perhaps it is a voluntarily giving up the Power) then they can’t be turned. Now that we the readers know that Stilling can be healed to some extent, I think more folks will be able to resist this turning. Logain has been unStilled once before, so hopefully all his loyal Channelers will recall that be able to unTurn themselves. Then the healers can return some of their Channeling ability afterwards.

Or we might not have time for that and the lot of them will have to be killed, or Still en masse by Rand and left to muddle through the end of the world as best they can.

8.  It appears Taim and his cronies are finally ejected from the Black Tower, although Taim is still alive.  What do you think of how this went down?  Will we now see the good Asha’man lend their strength to the fight?  Could that turn the tide of the war?

It seemed pretty sudden to me. I think Taim must have had some place he was suppose to be and couldn’t put as much time or effort as he wanted in fighting back. In any event, it leaves our good Asha’men free to join the fight. Under Androl and Pevara, I can’t see them doing anything else.

Will the Asha’men be the thing that turns the tide? I don’t think so. We have a lot of tides to turn and a lot of people chipping in to help win this battle. No, I think the force that will change the tide one way or the other are the Seanchan. Will they continue to harrass and enslave Randland as they fight the Last Battle? Or will they see the light and come to the aid of Rand and his fellow warriors? I really hope Mat knocks some sense into Tuon…..by bedding her! 😉

Other Tidbits:

Elayne gave Rand a dagger that makes him invisible to the Dark One. I wonder how it works and what’s it’s limitations are. I can’t recall where Elayne picked it up, perhaps in that stash she had Birgitte lugging around for a while.

 

 

A Memory of Light, Part II

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

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

1) Pevara and Androl have done some mutual Bonding, which seems to have created a rather uniquely intimate link between the two. Do you think that the other Aes Sedai /Asha’man pairs could create something similar, or do we have an example of mushy, romantic specialness in this case? Have you been surprised by the Red’s ability to work with male Channelers, or do you think that she is unusual for her Ajah?

I expect that other Aes Sedai/Asha’men bonds will happen – perhaps not in this book, but after the big battle is won and folks have a chance to get back to normal lives.

I think there are other Reds like Pevara that will be able to overcome their squeamishness towards male Channelers, if for no other reason than they don’t want to look weak and silly in front of other Aes Sedai.

I have to say that when Pevara had her little panic attack and Bonded Androl, without his permission, I wanted to slap her. Aes Sedai are such bullies. I did cheer a little when Androl turned around and Bonded her so that she could experience it first hand. I think this is nearly the only way the Aes Sedai can learn.

2) I was beginning to worry that Aviendha’s quadruplets would need to be the product of some sort of bizarre ‘virgin’ birth scenario, but now there is at least a biological chance that they could be created in the normal way! Yay! Do you really think that it was necessary for her to use sexytimes as a way to persuade Rand to grant her a boon? Were you disappointed or relieved not to have more details of what was obviously a rather extended night of baby-making?

I expect that Elayne will become injured in some fashion, perhaps end up in a coma, and Aviendha will have to raise her kids along with Elayne’s.

No, I think Rand would have granted her a boon just for getting a look at her tits. Though I am sure he is grateful for the sexytimes. Plus, the three ladies had to gather and discuss how they were going to handle Rand. I wonder what Min and Elayne did to distract themselves from the night of bedroom gymnastics they surely sensed through the bond.

Well, I think you all know me by now. I like the sexytimes to be as descriptive as the rest of the book, so, yeah, I would have enjoyed seeing how Aveidnah (who is super athletic) put Rand through his paces.

3) Apparently, being Turned to the Dark Side does not improve your intellect very much. Do you think that we will ever see a truly intelligent Darkfriend? Did the sequence with Dobser make you more hopeful of Androl and his party surviving against Taim’s attack?

No, I don’t think we will ever have a truly intelligent Darkfriend or Forsaken…. well, not one that can work with others. Cyndane/Lanfear has some cunning to her, but she despises everyone and has difficulty playing nice on Team Dark One.

Yes, I expect that Androl and Pevara will do some major ass kicking before this book is through and one of those asses may very well be Taim. Up until this week’s reading, I had expected that Logain (maybe with Rand’s help) would be the one to take out Taim. But now I suspect that Androl and Pevara will take out Taim, perhaps with Logain’s help (though he is merely a bit of a drool monkey right now due to his long imprisonment and ill treatment).

4) Rand is beginning to manifest some startling new powers and can now manipulate the Dream more successfully than Moridin. Do you think this will cause the Nae’blis to alter his plans and be more aggressive in his pursuit of Rand? It seems that Lanfear is managing to somehow slip away from his control via the mindtrap: or was that all staged for Rand’s benefit?

I think Rand’s new abilities within the Dream will irritate Moridin and while making him more aggressive, it will also make him more careless. Basically, I don’t think Rand is in increased danger on account of this.

I think Lanfear is indeed managing to escape Moridin’s complete control and this will also make him more aggressive and more careless. I don’t think he is cautious enough to have staged the whole Lanfear crying for help thing. Plus, Lanfear is not really a team player (and there are suspicions she was giving Slayer/Luc/Issam orders to kill Rand, which is in direct contradiction to Moridin’s orders).

5) And, yay verily, there will be much politicking and arguing and then Moiraine will appear and quote the Prophecy, thus creating peace and harmony amongst the leaders of the World. Did anyone else expect her to wink at Perrin in a conspiratorial way as she walked past him? Do you think that the new and improved Dragon’s Peace will hold and also stop the future we saw in Aviendha’s visions? Who do you think Rand expected Roedran to be?

So much to say here! First, I don’t know why Rand suspected Roedran. I expect that is something I will pick up on a reread.

1) Egwene almost cost the world not only peace, but existence with her inflated sense of importance. I am so glad Moiraine pointed it out (and in such a way that Egwene could swallow it).

2) Yes, Moiraine is extra awesome, and I definitely could see her and Perrin trading nudges and winks back and forth. They were the two even-headed ones on scene.

3) Aviendha was right to demand the Aiel be included in the Peace and Perrin was great to point out that they needed a job. The Aiel can not meet toh nor generate honor unless they have a task before them, be it small or large.

4) I think rand left out some folks and that may or may not cause issues later – like the Dark Tower and the Traveling Folk (though since they follow the Way of the Leaf, it may not be such a big deal for them). Perhaps even the Ogier should be allowed to sign the Peace and guarantee their rights in this new United Nations of Randland. And the newly risen Malkier, will they sign?

5) Here is my biggest criticism of the Peace – Elayne will lead the armies! At first, I thought it was a joke or some sort of subterfuge by Rand. But, nope, he meant it. Sigh….OK, Elayne is an entertaining character and she has her moments. But she is entertaining because she keeps messing up and she has her shining moments because she has dug herself into yet another trap. The entire series, she has walked into one trap or another, acted on impulse and feelings instead of logic. In fact, just last book (like 300 pages ago) she was threatening to execute Perrin. So I am guessing that this is a plot point that Sanderson was committed to via Jordan and he hasn’t had a whole lot of time to make Elayne look competent. But I also expect that Elayne will be competent the rest of the book and this will be a huge character change for her with little reason/time to make it happen. I expect this point will continue to bother me. Some people believe that beauty = competence. Alas, that is not one of the magical qualities of this world.

You know who would make a good leader of the united armies? Someone who has a lifetime of training and experience? Someone who’s culture and training allows them to absorb new tactics and use them immediately? Someone who has Channelers and flying beasts to sends swift messages? Tuon/Fortunata, Empress of the Seanchan. So, I am quite surprised that Rand didn’t try to bring them into the fold by offering the Seanchan this chance to prove that they are worthy leaders to the folks of Randland.

6) Great Trees and a singing Ogier army, then Gateways bringing aid to Lan’s final charge. Discuss, with specific dimensions for the size of your grin and/or the number of tears shed! 😀

This was pretty fricking awesome. I really enjoyed the whole scene of Lan’s final charge. He rallied the men, but didn’t lie to them about their odds. He had Nynaeve in his thoughts (but somehow couldn’t sense her exuberation at finding out Rand meant to go to his aid). The charge beginning and then suddenly being joined by 4,000 extra men. Then another gateway, and another, and another. Yes, that was great. I had dramatic theme music rolling in my head for the entire scene.

It was nice to see Loial and his mum too.

7) Mat is off in Ebou Dar doing something mysterious. Can we hope that he is trying to talk some sense into Tuon? Will he accept the Horn from Faile or run away screaming?

So Perrin knows that Mat is married to the Seanchan empress, right? Has he mentioned that to anyone? that could be a very important and useful piece of intel right now. I expect Mat is either trying to get some sexytimes with his wife (and he needs some after the Tower of Ghenjei) or arguing with her about how slavery is basically evil and she really needs to saddle up and ride with the White Hats on this one.

I think Mat will accept the Horn readily enough. He might not like it, but he already knows the necessity of it. I expect grumbling and perhaps a badger to mysteriously appear in Elayne’s sleeping quarters at some point (for ordering Mat to blow the Horn).

Other Tidbits:

Aviendha sneaking into Elayne’s tent was awesome! And she was just trying not to be a bother to the guards. But this also has me worried about the capability of the evil Aiel and the inability of Elayne’s guards and scouts to detect them.

Rand comes up with the first shower this Age has seen! Hooray! Maybe Aviendha will tell Elayne and Elayne will commission some castle engineers to make it possible for the royalty. And in perhaps 200 years, the middle class will have showers. Then all will smell better.

Androl! Gosh, this late-to-the-party side character is turning out to be pretty interesting. I could definitely enjoy a book (or trilogy) just about Androl and his adventures prior to the Dark Tower.

(Ooops! I read a chapter too far and this little comment is actually from Chapter 8). Elayne finally announces who the father of her twins is (though Bashere had to show her the logic in it). It was overdue and I am glad that whole Evil Mellar Daddy rumor can be put to bed for good.

I did like that Elayne was direct with Aiel, making it clear that they simply couldn’t run off and do their own thing, no matter how competent they believed themselves to be.

 

Towers of Midnight, Part VIII

JordanTowersOfMidnightBannerWelcome everyone to Book 13 of The Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan and the final week of this read along. We start Book 14 next week and here is the schedule for A Memory of Light if you want to join us.

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

This week, we covered the Chapters 49-END. Spoilers run rampant for this section and all previous books below!

1) Aviendha’s visions finally show us the decision that will place the Aiel upon their path to destruction. That first step seems so logical, so will she be able to persuade the Wise Ones to avoid it when only she has seen this future? Can you see any way that Randland can avoid being overwhelmed by the Seanchan, even if the Aiel try to preserve the Dragon’s Peace?

Well, Aviendha is Bonded to the Dragon Reborn, so if the Aiel won’t listen to her, then Rand will. She just needs to convince one party or the other….or prevent Tuon from being assassinated. That was part of the vision, too, right? That the Seanchan had a leader who seemed amenable to some kind of reasonable peace, but then she died and the new ruler is a ruthless pain in the ass. So, with 3 paths to change this future, I think Aviendha will be able to make it happen.

The Seanchan are driven by honor. I think that if someone pointed out their lack of honor in abandoning their homeland, then a chunk of them would go home to stomp out the trollocs (or whatever the Seanchan equivalent is). Then perhaps trade would ensue and there would be no need for whole sale Seanchan dominance. Plus, I really don’t like the Seanchan and if the series ends with them ruling Randland I will be mightily put out.

2) Elayne takes the Sun Throne without bloodshed. Were you impressed by her method of uniting the two countries or do you think that it will offer her enemies a neat way to gain power? Will she ever beat the Daes Dae’mar out of the Cairhienien nobility?

I haven’t been Elayne’s biggest fan of late. I have found her choices to be driven by childish whim or need without a whole lot of thought being put into them (gaining her first throne was more Birgitte’s work, challenging the Forsaken and nearly being killed, threatening to execute Perrin, etc.) so her well through out path to teh Sun Throne both surprised me and seemed out of character. She has been playing the twit for the past few books, so has she finally slowed down a bit, learned from her mistakes? Is she listening to her mom? We’ll have to see if she reverts back to her twitness in the final book.

No, I think Daes Des’mar is here to stay.

3) It seems that I was wrong for wanting Rand to deal with the Borderlanders earlier. Do you feel as if this plotline has reached a satisfying resolution or do you think that the Borderlanders should have been keeping a watch on the Blight instead? Where do you expect Rand to send them next: to their respective homes or to Tarwin’s Gap?

While I was amused and a little awed that the Borderlanders basically set aside their lives to deliver a few bitch slaps to Rand, I also have to tilt my head to the side and quirk an eyebrow. Really? They couldn’t be doing anything better with their time? And they felt the need to bring such a large contingent? Really, it would only take like 3 of them to do this little prophesy test of theirs. All the forced they brought with them couldn’t keep them safe if Rand decided to kill them.

I think Rand will have a use for them and Tarwin’s Gap sounds like a good one.

4) Both Pevara and Androl have detected people who have undergone mysterious changes. I guess that we all think that Taim is responsible, but do we have any idea of what has actually happened to them? I was a little unsure of Javindhra: has she undergone a similar transformation to Tarna, or does she have some other reason for wanting to stay in the Black Tower?

Could it be some kind of Compulsion or perhaps possession? We have seen Graendal possessing birds and spying. So is it possible for other Forsaken or even the Dark One to possess some Asha’men? Even and Aes Sedai or two? Whatever it is, it’s not good.

If Tarna is Black Ajah and she is working with Taim to create these transformations, then that could also be the answer in her case.

5) Foxes and Snakes and blindings, oh my! The Tower of Ghenjei certainly took its toll on our heroes, but at least Thom and Moiraine are happy now! This section was so jammed with action, revelations and fulfilled prophecies: did you manage to follow it all or were you a little overwhelmed? It seems that the second red doorway, in the Stone of Tear, has also been destroyed: do you think that Finn will finally stop receiving visitors now?

Wow! There was so much in this section and no, I didn’t follow it all. This series has gotten ever more complicated as we moved through it, so I am sure there are several small things that I missed. Plus, it looks like TOR is or just has released a WoT book with back stories for some of our side characters, stories that never made it into the series. So, yeah, I expect I missed stuff through out this big chase/fight scene.

I expect the Finn have more than just the 2 ways for people to wander in and out. Those two red doorways might have once been the Aes sedai ways, but I bet the Finn deal with more than just the Aes sedai.

6) So, Noal WAS Jain Farstrider. Were you surprised by this revelation? What did you think of his ‘death’: is he really gone, or trapped like Moiraine? Alternatively, did he die such a hero’s death that he might become bound to the Horn like Birgitte?

Uh, no, I wasn’t surprised Noal was Jain Fartstrider. I think that was broadcast loud and clear long before we got to the Tower of Ghenjei. I am guessing he is trapped by the Finn and will be drained unless he can find a way to either kill himself or force them to kill him. Once he is truly dead, then I think it would be fitting for him to be bound to the Horn (unless he is super tired and needs one big rest, then I think the Wheel should give that to him).

7) Olver seems to mirror Mat quite a lot, from his way with serving girls to his ability to beat a game that is supposedly impossible to win. It seems that his nosiness was rather fortuitous, but do you think that Verin’s letter will prove at all useful now that the Trolloc attack has already started? Do you think that she should have left instructions that would have actually made Mat open the letter in time to prepare for the attack?

Even though Talmanes and crew will be getting to the party late, I still think the info in Verin’s letter will prove useful: they know how the trollocs are getting in and can shut it down. No one else has that info and it’s already going to be somewhat chaotic inside the city anyway. I fear Talmanes may die a hero’s death in trying to save the city.

No, I don’t think instructions demanding Mat open the letter at a certain time would have been good. He balks at any directions from women, especially from Aes Sedai. So, verin making any such demand would not have worked.

8) Evil Aiel with filed teeth!!?!??!? Discuss!

I can’t recall if the Shaido had a color scheme involving red or not. I figure after Sevanna was captured and hauled off (along with others), then the remaining Shaido probably broke up into smaller bands. This could be one of them. It appears they have no sense of honor, at least in regards to Wetlanders. If they attack the Seanchan and even come close to succeeding in killing someone high up (like Tuon/Fortunata), then the Seanchan won’t bother to discriminate – they will hunt down all Aiel.

9) Lanfear barges into Rand’s happy place and asks him to help her. I suspect that we were supposed to be surprised that she was still alive, especially after Moiraine’s report of her death at the hands of the Finn, but had you already suspected this? Do you think that Rand will dash off to save her, and, if so, will she finally turn from the Shadow, be a decent person and help the man that she supposedly loves?

Wasn’t Lanfear now … uh.. whatever her name is that dresses in slinky clothing? And Moridin has her leashed via one of those little gilded cages he wears around his neck. So, yeah, we know she’s not dead and the Finn lied to Moiraine. Or the Dark One (or a minion) had to kill Lanfear while she was in the Finn’s keeping and then revive her afterwards.

I think Rand will have heartburn over yet another woman being tortured. And, as we saw way back like in book 2 or 3, Rand believes you simply have to want to stop serving the Dark One in order to be counted among the good again. I say, actions speak way louder than words, so Lanfear is going to have to prove herself in my book before I vote for her rescue.

If Lanfear miraculously turns from the dark, I expect that she will then be killed in some heroic attempt to either save Rand or someone he cares about.

Squatch having a snack
Squatch having a snack

Other Tidbits:

Just smile and nod at the evil crazy Asha’men. Just smile a nod and keep walking.

So Mat was stunned by Moiraine and Thom proposing marriage to one another. Uh…So was I. When did they ever get around to kissy kissy? I’ll definitely be paying attention to their every exchange when I do a reread in the future.

Can ta’veren-ness wear off on other people? Like Olver showing signs of incredible luck? Or was that just the Wheel’s way to 1) show Olver that the Finn can be beaten and 2) get him to wrap up the game and go dig through Mat’s mail like a cheeky blighter?

 

Knife of Dreams, Part I

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

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

I had to post late this week because we had a flood last week and I was just wiped out from the actual event and then clean up efforts.

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

1. Eamon Valda finally buys it, and Galad is now (at least de jure) Lord Captain Commander. Do you think he will be able to muster the children and fight back in any meaningful way? Or is this effectively the end of the order?

Well, I was looking for something else perhaps 2 months ago (perhaps a list of the Forsaken) and the answer to this question was revealed. I guess folks aren’t big into spoiler warnings for this series since it has been out for so long. Perhaps I should reveal the ending to The Hobbit?

Digressing…….Back to the question. First, before stumbling upon that bit of info, I would NEVER have expected Galad to rise to Lord Captain Commander. While he is a stickler for the rules, he is also a good person. I can’t see him raping and torturing his way through a country like Masema’s men do (and some of the Whitecloaks). And the 2 previous Lord Captain Commanders have been pretty ruthless.

So with that in mind, Galad is going to have to get a bit more ruthless, and suspicious, in order to stay alive, let alone retain the title of Lord Captain Commander. But I can’t see Jordan just letting this constant nuisance dressed in snazzy cloaks & armor fade out. So I expect them to be around for the end of the world.

2. The Seanchan suffer some shocking defeats at the hands of Ituralde. Suroth is furious and sends away almost all the air scouts. Will this help Mat out? What do you think is in the future for Ituralde?

First, Ituralde has incredible fashion sense, with the lace and the beauty patch on his face. Very chic.

I think anything that unbalances Suroth, who we know to be a Darkfriend, will help Mat or one of our other heroes. So if Ituralde’s sense of style (on or off the battlefield) does that, I am all for it.

Some of our WoT Quad have mentioned that Ituralde is the last of the greatest battle generals to enter the storyline. So I expect him to win a lot of battles, some of them decisive. I don’t know if he will survive to the end as we have had only tiny little bits of him so far. And I expect some of the key players will have to die in the final 3 books.

3. Semirhage has been busy in Seandar, and Seanchan as we know it (or more accurately, didn’t know it), has ceased to exist. Without support from their homeland, do you think the return is now doomed (in the long term)? Might this force them into accepting an alliance with Rand, once it becomes known?

Yes!!!!! Oh, when I heard this, I did a little dance. I know, I shouldn’t root for Semirhage, but the Seanchan have been pissing me off since they first appeared on Randland thinking they could just conquer the entire land and that they were entitled to do so.

Now with their homeland all in tatters, I hope they realize they will need to make alliances, respect the various peoples of Randland, in order to simply maintain their existence and their possible chance to return home and resurrect their homeland.

4. The Black Ajah hunters have stalled, and Pevara is now being sent away on a mission to bond Asha’men. Talene managed to hide, but Alviarin is still on the right track. Where do you see this storyline going?

Uh….Well, perhaps I wasn’t paying close attention….again.

I expect Pevara to fail at forcing a bond upon Asha’men. Period. Though it could turn rather amusing if she is bonded to one of them.

Alviarin is highly motivated to serve the DO, so I expect her to continue to cause trouble until someone kills her.

5. Of all the things that could happen between Galina and Perrin, what were you wishing for? Do you suppose she succeeded in stalling him?

Galina was doing a lot of lying and I wondered if Perrin could smell her lies and played along with part of it? Of perhaps he could only smell fear on her, which could be explained by the Aes Sedai fear and revulsion towards Asha’men.

If he didn’t pick up on Galina’s lies, then I want to slap him upside the head. He knows that things may not be as they seem. He has met and fought with Wise Women. So he knows that just because you can channel doesn’t mean you are bound by oath to tell the truth.

The rude little evil part of me wishes that Perrin had tortured Galina to verify the truth.

As for stalling Perrin, no. It sounds like they were nearly set to follow through on some plan anyway and that grabbing Galina just gave them a little extra info.

6. Egwene has been installed as a novice again, and sees advantages in her situation. How badly do you think will Elaida regret not having her tried? Is Egwene right in refusing rescue? And do you think she will manage to hold the rebellion together by proxy (in tel’aran’rhiod)?

Oh yes, I definitely hope that Elaida comes to regret not having Egwene beheaded on the spot. I really want Elaida to regret that decision just before she is exiled, Stilled, or killed. Or perhaps all 3. I’m easy that way.

Yes, Egwene is right to refuse rescue just yet. She is in a unique position to learn a lot about her enemies in the White Tower and get that intel to the Aes Sedai outside the Tower through T’A’R.

As for being able to hold the rebellion together….well, I think the Aes Sedai who greatly desire power and see the rebellion as a way to it will hold the rebellion together. Of course, they might not do much to help free Egwene so I hope she packed some clean undies for her (probable) long stay in the Tower.