Towers of Midnight, Part I

JordanTowersOfMidnightBannerWelcome everyone to Book 13 of The Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan. You can find the schedule to Towers of Midnight over HERE. Everyone is welcome to join us!

This week, Eivind, our WoT encyclopedia, is our host and can be found in the comments. Make sure to swing by Liesel’s at Musings on Fantasia  for cool fan art.  And Sue at Coffee, Cookies, & Chili Peppers has intellect and teensy violins.

This week, we covered the Prologue – Chapter 4. Spoilers run rampant for this section and all previous books below!

1.  Everyone who thought Graendal might not be dead can pat themselves on the back.  With Aran’gar’s death that leaves six.  Are there any others, thought dead, that you fear we might see again?

I’m afraid to look on the WoT Wikipedia for a round up of Forsaken names. Of course I want to know who killed Asmodean, but I am not worried about him coming back. Let’s see, who haven’t we balefired lately? Semirhage is balefired. Several of the male Forsaken (probably because it took Rand so long to get over his sissy squeamishness about permanently disabling women). Moghedien is still running around, but tightly leashed by Moridin.

Eh. We’ll see if any spring back to life. Who was it that Rand took out in Shol ghul and we had no body? Moridin helped him out that time. So we might see that pesky Forsaken again.

2.  Is this the first time we’ve seen Padan Fain since book nine? Running around the Blight setting world records for creepiness… What role do you think he has to play in what is coming?

I don’t recall where and when we last saw Fain. Sometimes he gets a short little bit in a book here and there and that’s it, so it fades from my might what book(s) that happens in.

Let me say that Fain has his shit together, unlike many of the other baddies. He didn’t rush his badness either. He let it bloom and swell slowly over many, many books. He is beholden to none (unlike so many of the Forsaken and all of the Darkfriends and Black Ajah). He has this major creepiness power going on that gets him servants for his evil bidding. And he is goal oriented. So many of our Forsaken don’t have a solid goal in mind. Also, I don’t think Fain cares about becoming Nebless – nope. He’s definitely has his own idea of power and domination to attain.

All that said (which kind of looks like a strange fan letter, now that I reread it), I think Fain will go on to march to his own drum which will screw up the few plans that the Forsaken and/or the Dark One have going on, making it that much harder to take over the world.

3.  The blightborder in Kandor is attacked and will probably not hold for long.  Meanwhile, Lan is in Saldaea, heading east. Will he even make it to Tarwin’s Gap, or will he be caught up in the invasion?  How many followers do you expect to see before he gives up the lone wolf plan?

Lan’s an idiot. He can’t accomplish any good by himself in the border, unless you count adding your bones to the soil in order to enrich it after the Trollocs have sucked out all the marrow.

Maybe some Asha’men will join him and make gateway(s) so he can get to Tarwin’s Gap and die in relative comfort.

And I think he already gave up the lone wolf crap when he accepted the supply boy into his entourage.

4.  Yet another reunion happens as Rand reveals part of his plan to Egwene, but she is not pleased.  Rand looks quite sane but Egwene is not so sure.  Do you expect this to be a big conflict before the Last Battle?  Who do you think is right?

No one is going to like the idea of breaking the last seal, so yeah, I expect plenty of people to be yelling at Rand for this idea. But I also expect Min (our little, quiet, knife-weilding brainiac) to figure out the riddles and then explain them to the others, speaking slowly and using small words, so they can absorb the content of the message easier.

I expect Rand is right but I also think that right now he doesn’t fully understand why. he needs Min too.

5.  It looks like we’ll be spending a lot of time this book with Perrin and Hopper in T’A’R.  Excited?  Anything special you want to see?  Will we maybe run into Slayer again?

Hooray! I am so glad that Perrin is finally girding his loins and tackling this problem that has been dogging him for so many books. Running from it doesn’t work. Hiding from it doesn’t work. Ignoring it doesn’t work. So, yeah, he has to go through this training and I bet it will be awesome!

I want to see the wolves explain to Perrin that his loss of control on the battlefield is more a human thing than a wolf thing; Perrin feels great remorse in taking a life, any life, no matter how justified it is. He needs to learn to either set that aside (until after the Last Battle) or let go of such a false notion.

It would be great to see Slayer again. He is so mysterious and deadly! (Ack! It sounds like I am some fan-flousy for the bad guys – I’m not! Really!)

6.  It also looks like we’ll see a confrontation between Perrin and the Whitecloaks, world champions in grudge-keeping.  How will this play out?  How do you think Galad is doing as Lord Captain Commander?

Ugh. The Whitecloaks have the biggest, thickest sticks up their asses. I use to think that Galad was pretty stuck up, but then he joined the Whitecloaks and I now see how mellow he is compared to them.

Once again, i expect Perrin will offer to submit to their judgement in exchange for a temporary truce between them. I hope that Galad will continue to play the voice of reason, will listen to Perrin’s truths of the slaughter of his family and the Whitecloaks’ role in the Two Rivers nastiness, and their with holding of assistance when the town was attacked by Trollocs. I think that once Galad corroborates that (which might have to happen after the Last Battle), Perrin will be free of the Whitecloaks.

Though it might be way cooler if Perrin had to square off one on one with the pesky grudge holder, smacked him down, and showed mercy by not fatally wounding him.

If the Whitecloaks have to be alive, healthy, and still kicking at the Last Battle, then I hope Galad is around to teach them the power of humbleness and acceptance of others. Galad seems to struggle with these things too, but I feel that he at least recognizes his struggle to accept others.

Squatch having a snack

Squatch having a snack

Other Tidbits:

So Graendal can use doves, not just crows and rats, to do her spying. I am going to guess that she is not the only dark power to use other, less noticeable, animals for spying. I kind of hope Graendal does more spying with a plump dove and that dove is shot and eaten by the starving Randlanders, giving Graendal a nasty shock.

It was nice of Rand to take the time to give people apples. But I bet they will be sick of apples once all this is said and done. I would be surprised if we see decorative crab apple trees planted in Rand’s name after he saves the world, while they also plant peach orchards for main sustenance.

I was complaining to my man (who has already finished the book) that Asunawa (spelling?) really needed to be dead. And then, there it was, his head, without a body! It is like the book heard me griping and gave me a little present.

 

Towers of Midnight Read Along

JordanTowersOfMidnightBannerHello all, the WoT Quad is continuing their adventures through Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time world with Book 12, Towers of Midnight. Below is the schedule. Liesel (Musings on Fantasia), Sue (Coffee, Cookies, & Chili Peppers), Eivind (our Nordic WoT encyclopedic commenter) and myself will be hosting the readalong. Anyone is welcome to join us in the comments or with blog posts. If you want to receive the discussion questions a little early each week, leave me a comment on this post or email me (nrlymrtl@gmail.com).

Week 1 Nov. 23: Eivind – Prologue – Chapter 4 (87 pages)
Week 2 Nov 30: DOD – Chapters 5-13 (97 pages)
Week 3 Dec 7: MOF – Chapters 14-20 (115 pages)
Week 4 Dec 14: CCCP Chapters 21-25 (106 pages)
Week 5 Dec 21: Eivind Chapters 26-33 (117 pages)
Week 6 Dec 28: DOD Chapters 34-40 (98 pages)
Week 7 Jan 4: MOF Chapters 41-48 (98 pages)
Week 8 Jan 11: CCCP Chapters 49-END (119 pages)

The Gathering Storm, Part VII

JordanGatheringStormBannerWelcome everyone to Book 12 of The Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan. You can find the schedule to The Gathering Storm over HERE. Everyone is welcome to join us!

This week, Eivind, our WoT encyclopedia, is our host and can be found in the comments. Make sure to swing by Liesel’s at Musings on Fantasia  for cool fan art.  And Sue at Coffee, Cookies, & Chili Peppers has intellect and teensy violins.

This week, we covered the Chapters 42-END. Spoilers run rampant for this section and all previous books below!

1.  Egwene appears very reluctant to forgive Siuan and Gawyn for having rescued her from Tar Valon.  Do you think she went overboard?  Has Siuan lost her status forever?  What sort of thing might it take for Egwene and Gawyn to finally get together as they should?

I might be in the minority here, but I feel that Egwene has been a highhanded with many people who have supported her these many months – like all the Salidar Aes Sedai, including Siuan. So, let’s start with Gawyn and Siuan – they had to make a split second decision in the middle of a battle. They saw the Seanchan forces were pulling out but they had no idea if they would regroup and attack again. Plus we have all those assassins running around and Siuan and Gawyn had no way to know how few there actually were. Lastly, they themselves were unwanted invaders in the Tower, so they had to leave anyway and was there anyone standing around looking competent and trustworthy that they could have handed Egwene off to? No. So, yeah, Egwene is being just a touch overly sensitive to this.

Next, she is welcomed into the Tower with open arms, asked to be the new Amyrlin. She makes her loyal ‘rebel’ Aes Sedai wait outside in a courtyard, the ceremony is had without them. She does give a nice harsh berating to the Tower Aes Sedai, but she does this in private. She then gives the Salidar Aes Sedai a very public (and less severe) berating. I thought this was rather rude and put the ‘rebels’ in a lesser standing than the Tower Aes Sedai.

Egwene still has plenty to learn about people in general and leading in specific.

I am not sure what it will take for Gawyn and Egwene to get back to the kiss-kiss state. Perhaps he will take a very bad wound and she will have to save his life and will realize in that moment what a dumbass she has been and want to spend the rest of her life with him and make babies and hav e a pet goat. It would suck if he took that nearly mortal injury from Rand but with the unfounded vengeance he has going for him, he might just force Rand into forcefully defending himself.

2.  The Black Ajah is purged and all its members are now either dead or missing.  Do you agree with Egwene’s plan, or would you have waited until after the reunification, to get all of them at once? Would you have liked to see the hunters in the White Tower (Saerin et al) play a larger role?

I think she did the best she could in that situation. After all, it was known by the Tower that Verin had passed away and that news would travel swiftly to the Salidar Aes Sedai. Not all but some of those Black would know that Verin was Black and the simple fact that she expired in Egwene’s room would cause them to worry (if they have 10 or more brain cells to rub together). Some of those would probably tell others, etc. I suspect that is why some of them disappeared as swiftly as they did.

Saerin and crew had their time in the limelight discovering a handful of the Black. But they also fucked up in forcing some of the Aes Sedai to swear oaths of obedience to them specifically. Naughty! Obviously, they weren’t ready to hold such power and the hunt had to come out into the open.

3.  The Aes Sedai are reunited, eight books after the split, with no more bloodshed.  What do you think of everything?  Do you agree with the decision to take Silviana as a keeper, and to distribute the blame?  What will now happen with the Red?  And just how epic were those speeches?

I already answered part of this question above (in Q. 1). I think Egwene was not equal in spreading the blame and publicly berating the Salidar Aes Sedai (after the private berating of the Tower fools) was not OK.

I really like that Egwene insisted that the stole and Amyrlin seat (throne?) have all the colors represented before she was crowned (raised?). And yes, I like that Silviana is her Keeper. She was steadfast and fair throughout her dealings with Egwene. She carried out her role and took no joy in beating Egwene.

I am not sure even Egwene knows exactly what (and how) she will do with the Reds at this point. She gave a very nice little speech about how their role will change but that they will be very important, etc. She sounded very convincing, but I know she has had plenty on her mind; so this might have been a nice bluff to keep them from fidgeting while she figures out what to do with them. I am not sure what she will have them do.

While I disliked her public negative remarks of the Aes Sedai, I did like her speech about becoming a force of Light to be reckoned with and how the Aes Sedai will be remembered as a unified force that fought for the good at the Last Battle instead of a bunch of bickering women who couldn’t prioritize.

4.  Were you happy to see Hurin again?  Do you think he was happy to see Rand?  What can be done now, from Rand’s side, to fix this problem with the Borderlanders?

It was nice to see Hurin and to see that his nose was still working. I think at first he was happy to see Rand but then when he realized how much Rand had changed, and how Rand did not return the affection, he was a bit disturbed.

Honestly, I think Rand messed up but I get why. I don’t think the Borderlanders are up to nefarious deeds nor are they trying to dodge their duties leading up to the Last Battle. But Rand has been tricked and shoved and attacked and forcefully Bonded and betrayed and he also has a few too many extra voices in his head. So, yeah the Borderlanders probably picked the location to protect themselves, but it could also be a set up for a trap. With Nynaeve and Cadsuane shoving him around, on top of everything else, I could see why this was just too much for him to trust the Borderlanders.

5.  Rand has a surprise meeting with Tam, for the first time since book one, and it does not go well!  Even though Rand was insane, how much blame rests with Cadsuane and Nynaeve here?

This was a great scene – so much going on and so many emotions yanked out of me! I really felt for Tam, and for Rand. They’ve always had a great relationship, Tam having raised him as his own in a loving, caring way. Rand returning that affection and respect. To see them so awkward with each and Rand needing to keep a barrier in place, calling his father ‘Tam’ instead of ‘dad’, etc. So sad to see. And yet, they were connecting, talking, sharing. At least, until Tam mentioned Cadsuane’s name.

I have to say that Cadsuane and Nynaeve have a large chunk of the blame to carry in this one. I think Min’s viewing needs to be reevaluated as I am pretty sure close inspection/reflection will show that both Rand and Cadsuane have something to teach the other in order for the world to go on spinning after the Last Battle. Cadsuane and Nynaeve can’t control everything and they certainly can’t control Rand.

6.  We got some more hints about the nature of Callandor, and now that the male Choedan Kal is also destroyed, they are more relevant than ever.  Does anyone want to try guessing what it’s for?

The sword Callandor is like Rand’s penis and the two female Channelers needed to wield it correctly are like Elayne and Aviendha. Min will be directing things and providing guidance, being the most experienced of the 4.

Or Callandor is simply a powerful weapon that needs 3 Channelers to get the most out of. Min, the brains in the bunch, will be the one to figure out how this all works and will convince Rand to give it a try.

7.  Rand travels to Dragonmount and has his epiphany.  Is he now sane for good?  What do you think he will be like when we see him again?  Was this what Cadsuane needed to teach him?  Feel free to speculate on the nature of the Lews Therin voice.

I have hopes that he is no sane for good. Of course he will have moments when he is sad, tired, stressed, questioning his actions, etc. But unless one of his Bonded ladies dies, I think he will be good to go for the rest of the series.

I think Rand will want to make some amends when next we see him. He’ll want to apologize to Tam and truly sit down and have a smoke and ale with him. He will probably want to let Nynaeve know that he has been insensitive about Lan’s ginormous task. I hope he tells some dirty limericks to Cadsuane and leaves her mystified. He’ll apologize to Min and then make sweet, crazy loud sex with her. Egwene has said in the past that Rand will bow to the Amyrlin Seat, so I am sure that will have to get worked out and the new, laid back (in comparison) Rand might not mind at all.

I am thinking that Rand probably still has to learn something from Cadsuane. Perhaps something to do with Callandor? Or maybe it is that he has to learn to trust a female Channeler, and not just any Channeler, but one he feels used him, lied to him, put his life at risk, etc.

Eivind shared several theories about Lews Therin several books back. The theory that stands out most to me is that Lews was Rand’s way of segregating his crazy thoughts and giving them a persona he could argue with and lock away from time to time. However, this idea that Lews was truly all in Rand’s head doesn’t explain the knowledge on past events & people Lews made available to Rand.

Squatch being cute.

Squatch being cute.

Other Tidbits:

Shiriam was beheaded! And why such an execution? I totally agree with executing them, but since they have so many ways of killing them, why that method? And what will they do with the distraught (and the Darkfriendish) Warders?

When Cadsuane bundled Tam up in air and lifted him, I loved his response. He called her a bully, and she is. While she released him, I hope she takes his comments to heart and adjusts her manner. Through out this series, this has probably been the biggest aspect about the Aes Sedai that I have found infuriating – so many of them are bullies!

 

The Gathering Storm, Part VI

JordanGatheringStormBannerWelcome everyone to Book 12 of The Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan. You can find the schedule to The Gathering Storm over HERE. Everyone is welcome to join us!

This week, I am your host. Eivind, our WoT encyclopedia, can be found in the comments. Make sure to swing by Liesel’s at Musings on Fantasia  for cool fan art. Sue at Coffee, Cookies, & Chili Peppers has critical thinking skills and tiny violins.

This week, we covered the Chapters 36-42. Spoilers run rampant for this section and all previous books below!

1) Verin demands a deal for Travelling his army & Mat demands a compromise. What do you think is in Verin’s sealed letter of instructions? Will Mat hold to his bargain?

Ugh….what could Verin have in mind? Well in light of what we learn later on in this section, I think she has left instructions that will 1) make amends for some of her past bad deeds and 2) help the Dragon Reborn’s efforts to defeat the Dark One. But I really don’t have any idea on specifics.

I am not sure if Mat will hold to the bargain. Obviously he is reluctant to agree to carry out sealed instructions (which seems remarkably prudent of him – must be because he so strongly distrusts Aes Sedai). If Mat hears about Verin being Black Ajah but that she died in order to reveal the Black Network to Egwene, then I think he will be more inclined to carry out her request. But I don’t see Mat and Egwene having a chat before the time limit is up.

2) Tuon, now referred to as Fortuna, carried through with her decision to attach the White Tower. What did you think of her discussion with Selucia concerning how this action might very well turn the Dragon Reborn against the Seanchan? Is Fortuna’s concerns well founded, or should she be more concerned about how the Aes Sedai will react?

I think Tuon is having second thoughts about her decision to attack the White Tower and defy the Dragon Reborn. But of course she can’t outright say that and she sure as hell can’t act on these misgivings in any way that would lower her eyes.

She has stirred up a hornet’s nest one way or the other. Face the wrath of the Dragon Reborn or face the fury of a trampled on and surly united White Tower? Hmmm… I would rather face Rand. either way, Fortuna is in deep shit.

3) Rand is certain he has removed Graendal from the picture. Do you agree? Will Nynaeve forgive Rand for having her play a part in his ruse?

I am one of those people that always needs a body. Or a head. Or a heart. In the case of balefire, I need to see with my own eyes the person who is being wiped out of existence. So while I hope that Rand’s little ruse told true, I wouldn’t be terribly surprised if Graendal popped up later.

Nynaeve is pretty cool about telling Rand that she despises the action he has taken. She is very careful to separate the action from the man. She doesn’t hate Rand but she sure as hell hates having been a party to killing an entire castle full of servants and playthings (even if they were little more than mindless zombies). It think that if Rand defeats the Dark One and saves the world, and lives to talk about it later, then Nynaeve will be able to forgive him.

Though she will probably take pains to gather up all the mentally tortured and broken who were affected by the Forsaken, myrrdraal, etc. and tuck them away in a very comfortable basement while she strives to find a way to heal them all.

4) Nynaeve swallows her pride and asks Cadsuane and the Wise Ones to let her in on The Plan. Why do you think they want Perrin? Any ideas on what The Plan is?

I am not sure why they want Perrin, though I think that whatever they are planning won’t work unless you have the trio together (Rand, Perrin, Mat). I hope they have already figured this out. Though it does seem to be a bit childish to keep the entire plan from Nynaeve as I think she has proven to be one of Rand’s truest friends.

While listening to this section, I really felt that Cadsuane had backslid and was being an arrogant ass once again. Sigh…..Is Min the only one to realize that Rand needs support not bludgeoning? He needs guidance, not to be herded? I wonder why Sorilea didn’t take a greater lesson from Cadsuane’s banishment.

5) And the big reveal for this section concerns Verin. Did you see that coming? What more did she leave in her notebook for Egwene to decipher?

Argh! OK, so no offense at all to my compatriots in this read along. But since it had been asked more than once during past books if we thought Verin was Black Ajah, I had kind of figured that she must have some tie to them or be one, otherwise why keep asking? So, I had a sinking feeling that Verin was going to turn out evil and I was deeply concerned for Egwene when Verin turned up in her room.

But, Verin held true to her character – deeply curious about the world around her, she fond herself in this horrible situation where she could either die or become Black. And yet, she plans her death so that she has some time to leave Egwene a pretty powerful gift – all the info she has collected on the Black Ajah. I bet is like a huge PhD dissertation. So I was very happy to see that Verin is indeed a good guy, even if she had to do some horrible things (which she regrets deeply) to get to this point.

I would love for there to be a side story on Verin!

As to what else (besides the very long list of Black Ajah) is in the book… well, I would think there would be a list of Dark Friends, especially those in stations of power or influence. I wouldn’t be surprised if there was some detailed notes on Weaves of torture or Compulsion or How To Be A Sneaky Bitch.

6) The Seanchan finally attack the Tower! Feel free to gush about your favorite parts. What did you think of Bryne’s demand of Warder status of Siuan (and his still unnamed second demand)? Was Egwene bad-ass enough for you? Pleased or surprised by the actions/reactions of the other Aes Sedai?

I loved how Egwene took control of the battle in her section. When she was challenged by one Sister (who said something like – Oh, so you think you are in charge?) and Egwne bluntly tells her yes and asks her if she would prefer to be in charge. Of course, the Sister declines because who really wants to be in charge in a fucked up situation like that (and if you just raised your hand and said, ‘Pick me!; then you need to get a job in Emergency Management.

I also like how Sierin (spelling?) had a central place for info to flow into and back out, and for the wounded to stumble to if there were no Aes Sedai on hand to do the healing on the front line.

And then Siuan and Bryne have to save each other. So romantic! In a totally kick ass kind of way.

And I like tht Bryne made the demand to be Siuan’s Warder. I look forward to seeing what his second demand turns out to be. Perhaps he will ask her to stop doing his laundry and consider that debt paid. It might be a bit too gushy if he asks her to marry him.

7) The aftermath: Do you think the Seanchan raid on the White Tower will be seen as a success or a loss by the Seanchan? How will Egwene react to being removed from the Tower? How will the Tower react to it’s loss of Elaida?

I am really hoping the Seanchan see it as a loss, but I am not sure their collective pride will allow that. Also, I am not sure what their body count was compared to the number of captured and/or dead Aes Sedai.

I know Egwene was mumbling not to remove her from the Tower, but if they start flying a white flag of truce and talks the next morning, then Egwene may not be too upset about it. Plus, she will have a chance to snuggle kiss Gawyn.

Well, once they have confirmed that Elaida is missing, I think many will sigh a big sigh of relieve. Then they will have to struggle with the moral question of trying to rescue or ransom her (which might not be possible due to the Tower losses). It would be funny if it was Egwene of all people who insisted they rescue Elaida – but Egwene hates the a’dam enough that she might just insist on freeing every Sister from such a fate, even Elaida.

Squatch being cute.

Squatch being cute.

Other Tidbits:

Verin describes the ritual for becoming Balck Ajah as rather singular. *shiver* I just want to say that is messed up and that maybe becoming Black Ajah isn’t for the faint of heart.

But where are the rest of those specialized assassins? How long do they live again? Could they still be creeping around?

OK, I know this was in this section, but I felt I had asked one two many questions as it was. The last chapter is Rand getting ready to leave Bander Eban in Arad Doman. The Sea Folk ships have arrived and all the food is spoiled, every last bit. He has to walk away leaving all these starving people. And…. well, he was right. He had done everything he could. Arad Doman and the Merchant’s Council needs to pull their own weight and try to save their people and themselves. The world may be ending and Rand has the big chore of saving the known world. It would be great if a few more folks stepped up and took a few items off his to-do list.

The Gathering Storm, Part V

JordanGatheringStormBannerWelcome everyone to Book 12 of The Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan. You can find the schedule to The Gathering Storm over HERE. Everyone is welcome to join us!

This week, Sue at Coffee, Cookies, & Chili Peppers is  your host. Eivind, our WoT encyclopedia, can be found in the comments. Make sure to swing by Liesel’s at Musings on Fantasia  for cool fan art.

This week, we covered the Chapters 29-35. Spoilers run rampant for this section and all previous books below!

1) We journey to yet another impressive city. What are your impressions of Bander Eban and its inhabitants? Do you think that Rand will succeed in bringing peace and unity to the region, or will it all dissolve into chaos again as soon as he moves on?

I think  Bander Eban, like many cities Rand touches, will hold together until the Last Battle and that is where their fate will be decided. If they hold strong through it, and aren’t swarmed and destroyed by trollocs or other minions, then they will be around to help rebuild the world afterwards.

2) I feel as if I am being overly harsh towards Gawyn, but he does seem to be very slow on the uptake! Do you think that he will ever see sense and stop trying to rescue Egwene? Will their reunion be all magical and gushing, or will Egwene take exception to Gawyn’s image of her as only a helpless puppet and not the awesomely powerful woman that she has become?

I think Gawyn will only see reason when he sees Egwene call down lightning and take out a dozen Aes Sedai, or when the the entirety of the White Tower (reunited) bows to her. So, yeah, he needs a slap upside the head. If he insists on saving her at any point and calls her a puppet (of course, in a very well meaning let-me-rescue-you-silly-girl kind of way), then she just might use a bit of balefire to demo her sincere commitment to her curse.

3) Cadsuane has decided to enlist the Wise Ones in her efforts to ‘guide’ Rand. Do her thoughts suggest that she is starting to truly understand him and do you think that her efforts will have a positive or negative result?

We are nearing the critical mass moment in the series; that point where if something doesn’t give, then all is lost. I don’t think we want everyone dead and the world on fire at the end of the series. So I am pretty confident that soon we will see some of our more stubborn characters (Cadsuane, Nynaeve, Egwene, etc.) learning how to bend and work with Rand instead of just pushing him around. So, yes, I am very hopeful that Cadsuane’s efforts will have a positive outcome.

Or Rand loses his shit and balefires her, unraveling this time thread as we know it, and sending the wheel of time off into the cosmos with a broken axle.

4) Nynaeve decides to go off and ‘help’ Rand behind his back. Were you surprised by what she discovered or how she went about it? Do you think that there is any chance at all that she will be able to moderate her behavior to guide Rand in a similar way to Moiraine?

Ah….remember those early days when many of our characters had little or no power, so they had to actually go chat with folks to figure out what was going on? Yeah, it was nice to see Nynaeve returning to her sleuthing ways. I was only a little surprised at her discovery, as it made sense.

I am really hoping that Nynaeve, like Cadsuane, can learn to bend a bit in order to help Rand relearn how to bend.

5) Mat spent hours coming up with very interesting, and thorough, backstories for his group of spies. Was this a justifiable use of his time or were his men correct in finding it all rather funny? Aludra demands all the resources in the world for her ‘dragons’: will Rand go along with this plan or see it as pointless?

Since Mat probably would have spent the time carousing, dicing, and drinking instead of writing backstories, then yes, I think it was an excellent use of his time. Besides, his handwriting probably needed the practice and we all know his men needed the laugh.

I think Rand will need a simple demonstration of Aludra’s fireworks/weapons and then he will be on board. Perhaps this will be useful is swaying Tuon’s take on the Dragon Reborn?

6) Verin has returned! Any ideas why she has been hanging around in the mountains distributing flyers rather than Travelling about trying to find Mat and Perrin?

Well, she did mention that Mat’s ta-veren-ness was holding her in place and she was damn tired of hanging out in these particular mountains. She could be right, if her finding Mat and then transporting his army turns out to be critical to the plot. We will have to keep reading to find out if this is so.

On the other hand, she could be a Dark Friend, as she is kind of hard to read, lacking social graces as she does. I know we get asked every few books as to whether or not we trust Verin and so far, she only done one or two slightly questionable things (remember the Compulsion on the Aes Sedai t swear to Rand several books back?). So, yeah, so far I trust her and it is apparent so does Mat.

7) Could Rand’s meeting with Tuon have gone any more badly? Do you think that this will signal open warfare between Rand and the Seanchan, or is there still a chance of a truce?

As you all know, I am not feeling the love for Tuon. Even when I take into account her upbringing, both as the the daughter of the Empress and the Seanchan love and dedication to hierarchy, I still can’t believe she is so bullheaded! She spent several weeks to a few months traveling with Mat seeing a bit of the local culture and she is still so utterly out of contact with these people she believes she rules. Dork.

Anyway, yes, it could have gone a little worse – like if someone from Rand’s party had drawn a weapon when Tuon’s guard did.

I don’t think we will have open warfare until (and unless) Tuon successfully attacks the White Tower and the Rebel Aes Sedai and enslaves a chunk of them. But if I recall Egwene’s dream correctly, then a Seanchan warrior was offering Egwene a hand up, right? That alone gives me hope that this can still be salvaged. Oh, and that we are nearing the end and these folks all have to get their shit together if they want to even make it to the last party.

Squatch being cute.

Squatch being cute.

Other Tidbits:

When Mat was going over the backstories with the guys, I loved Talmanes’s dry humor, especially when he suggested he be a wandering Aiel who had heard there was a horse (or was it a goat?) who had insulted his father within the city.

I think Tuon is handicapped by the fact that she doesn’t really have friends All the people who would be her friends, she sees as inferior, and ultimately, she can command them to kill themselves. Real friends don’t do that. So, unlike all the other stubborn fools we have, Tuon doesn’t have an equal-footed friends to tell her when she is being an idiot.

And at the end of this section, we learned a little about the Seanchan prophesy for the Last Battle, and, did I hear this right?, rand needs to be blind before the Seanchan can ride to glory, and then send Rand in to do single combat with the Dark One? Did I get that all right? WTF?!?

 

 

Interview: Erin Gitchell, Author of The Feast

GitchellTheFeastWelcome Erin Gitchell, author of The Feast. Today we chat about the company of Ents, Firefly, library work, coverart and more. Enjoy!

If you could, what book/movie/TV series would you like to experience for the first time all over again and why?

Book / Movie: Howl’s Moving Castle. I’d like to read the book before seeing the movie. I did it the other way around and have regretted it ever since. I wish I could go back in time and read the book for the first time without the movie characters in my head.

TV Series: Firefly. It was such a fun show! Perfect blend of humor, danger, spunk, chemistry, violence, and shiny lingo. The first time I saw it, I missed a few episodes here and there. I’ve watched it multiple times since, but I wish I could go back in time and watch it properly the first time around.

Given the opportunity, what fantastical beast of fiction would you like to encounter in the wild? Which would you avoid at all costs? Would you take a selfie with the beastie?

I think I’d enjoy traveling with an Ent for a while, and I’d REALLY enjoying talking to a dragon (but not the kind that would want to eat me). I would definitely avoid a dementor, since, being a muggle, I’d have no way to protect myself from them. And no, I’d never take a selfie with an Ent, dragon, or dementor. My daughter is the only beastie I’ll take pictures with (begrudgingly).

Who are your non-writer influences?

I work at a library and see a wide variety of people every day. Some just look so much like characters, it’s hard not to imagine them that way, inventing fantastical histories and personalities for them. The downside is when they do actually talk to me, I have to pretend like I didn’t give them a name and place in a story. I’m influenced by daily life, just little moments that trigger ideas, nothing grand or methodical. “There is learning in everything,” someone said in a book I read once, and it’s something I truly believe.

If you couldn’t be a writer, what would you chose to do?

I’d be an inventor or explorer. I like to take things apart and try and fix them, too, which kind of goes along with inventing. Or an artist (but not the snooty kind). However, I am pretty happy being a librarian (except when grumpy patrons yell at me).

McKinleyTheDoorInTheHedgeIf you were asked to create the syllabus for a college class in SFF literature, what books would be on there as required reading? As passing discussion?

Required Reading:

-The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien (Lord of the Rings trilogy also encouraged)
- A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin
- A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin
- The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle
- 1984 by George Orwell (if they somehow managed to make it this far in life without reading it)

Encouraged Reading:

- A Song of Ice and Fire series by George R. R. Martin
- Sabriel by Garth Nix
- Anything by Robin McKinley
- Anything by Robert Jordan (if they want to go down that road, more power to them!)

I guess the syllabus focuses on fantasy. Oh well.

Care to share an awkward fangirl/fanboy moment, either one where someone was gushing over your work…..or one where you were gushing over another author’s work?

In truth, I haven’t had one yet, unless you count joining the Legolas Fan Club in junior high with the first LOTR film came out. It was a very awkward club. I usually just demonstrate my admiration for an author by re-reading the book(s) over and over.

MarillierWildwoodDancingCover art can be so important for a book, making or breaking sales. What cover art has caught your eye, that you found stood above other books?

Some covers are so photoshopped these days, that’s all I see (the photoshopping)! It’s great authors have access to artists that can use that kind of software (whether they’re self-published or working with a publisher), but sometimes there are just too many layers. That being said, some of my favorite fantasy covers were created by Kinuko Y. Craft (she has done covers for Robin McKinley and Juliet Marillier, among others). They are EXTREMELY detailed, but in a way that’s not overwhelming…more like a, “The more you look, the more you see” kind of way. I’m intrigued when the cover tells a story, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be an illustration of a scene within the book.

Which mythical/fantastical race would you rather be?

I always choose mermaid (so long as I am speedy enough to avoid getting eaten) since there’s so much of the ocean that needs to be explored. However, not everyone can see the benefit of being a mermaid…

GitchellTheFeastGoodreads blurb about The Feast: Rebellion was sown…Revenge will be reaped…and The Feast for freedom awaits!

Delaterra, once a land of peace and prosperity, is tainted with suspicion and fear. The King’s Eyes and Ears, spies without conscience, hunt the Farmers, a group of Delaterran rebels who are dedicated to restoring Delaterra to her former glory. Yet there are whispers traveling fast on the wind, that the Farmers are not alone in their desire to rid the world of the Nameless One and the tyranny he sows. As The Feast draws near, a woman trapped in the body of a horse, an ex-knight, a seer, and an assassin must draw the factions together if they are to have any chance of success.

Places to Find Erin Gitchell

Website

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The Gathering Storm, Part IV

JordanGatheringStormBannerWelcome everyone to Book 12 of The Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan. You can find the schedule to The Gathering Storm over HERE. Everyone is welcome to join us!

This week, Liesel at Musings on Fantasia is  your host. Eivind, our WoT encyclopedia, can be found in the comments. Make sure to swing by Sue’s at Coffee, Cookies, & Chili Peppers for logic and tiny, tiny violins (on occasion).

This week, we covered the Chapters 22-28. Spoilers run rampant for this section and all previous books below!

1. We finally learn Rand’s logic for swapping Bashere and Ilturalde. Do you agree with his logic? Will it work?

I think so. It’s not the first time in epic fantasy or in history that a big-time ruler has assigned underlings to major posts outside of their home countries for the very same reasons Rand has. Though I think Bashere has been with Rand long enough now that he deserves a bit more trust. But, alas, Rand is over burdened, a little insane, sleep deprived, and quite frankly doesn’t have the luxury of time. I think if the Last Battle was scheduled to take place in 10 years, then Rand would have time to use more finesse in his maneuverings of the rulers of Randland and the invading Seanchan. But with the time pressure, he has to push people into positions they are not 100% comfortable with.

2. Rand balefires Semirhage, then banishes Cadsuane. He says he has become “cuendillar” but Cadsuane sees darkness around him. What do you think it is? Is this a good thing? Will it help or hinder him in the Last Battle?

This is a messed up situation. First, Cadsuane is not given to worry about small things. So if she is seeing a darkness about him before he took up the True Power, then there’s a darkness about him. Semirhage was not surprised by this new-to-Rand power itself, although she was surprised that the Dark One would grant the power to Rand. So, I believe this is probably another tainted power source and is likely responsible for Moridin’s black dots in his vision.

Perhaps this is where Cadsuane will have to use some subtlety and teach Rand either how evil this new power source is (and how to let go of it or block it) or how to cleanse it. We know he has experience cleaning power sources. I think this will have to be done before the Last Battle otherwise it could overwhelm Rand and make his a toy of the Dark One.

3. Gawyn reaches Gareth Bryne where he IDs an Aes Sedai in hiding, and is told the truth about his mother, Elayne, and Egwene’s situation. Even after he sees Egwene, do you think he’ll go to be at Elayne’s side, or stay to be Egwene’s warder? Do you think he’ll ever accept that Rand wasn’t responsible for what happened to Morgase? What will the discovery of Shemerin do for the rebels?

I think a lot depends on Egwene. If Egwene goes from being the White Tower’s prisoner into another immediate danger, she may be quite glad to have a Warder as adept as Gawyn. But if all the dust settles after the Seanchan attack the Tower and Egwene has the Aes Sedai united, then she may well tell Gawyn to go protect Elayne, who is after all, pregnant with Rand’s kids.

I think Gawyn won’t ever believe Rand unless one of two things happen. 1) Morgase shows up again (total possibility) and personally slaps some sense into Gawyn (which I would very much like to see); or 2) He Bonds with Rand and then he will be able to easily see that Rand is telling the truth. Since Rand is already Bonded to so many people, adding yet another to his head may be too much to ask for (but it would amuse me greatly).

I think Shemerin’s tale will unite more of the ‘rebel’ Aes Sedai against Elaida. Those who have started wavering will think again about just what life under Elaida would be like….and they will shudder and decide that such a life would suck.

4. Yup. It’s official. Sheriam is a Darkfriend. Were you surprised? Does it bring any clarity for you of her past actions? Do you think she’ll be successful at stealing the dream ter’angreal?

I was surprised. I think it was because we recently read the prequel and saw Sheriam as a younger woman. Uh…. she had past actions? OK, I know she did, but there are so many side characters in this series that often trying to recall what one character did or didn’t do is beyond me. I think when I give this a reread in a few years, knowing that Sheriam is Black, I will pick up on such details then.

Because she has such a short time frame, and that it will become obvious they are missing when even just one of the regular users can’t find one, then I expect she will get caught. And remind me, is Nynaeve walking about T’A’R on her own or does she surreptitiously borrow one of the ter’angreal for her meetings with Egwene? Either way, this will bullocks up Sheriam’s plans.

5. Aviendha gets her honor back and we finally learned what all the punishments were about. What did you think of the Wise One’s tactics? What will Aviendha see in Rhuidean, and what’s next for her?

I think the Wise One’s would make good dog trainers as this tactic so reminded me of the doggy towel test that I described a week or two back. And yeah, I see their point – you have to be ready to take up the mantel of being a Wise One and no one but you can decide when you are ready for that. Self-worth is important. I just wish they had had some sort of further test for Sevanna.

I am not sure what Aviendha will see in Rhuidean. Min had some Viewing that Aviendha would end up with 3 kids not her own, right? So maybe she will see something that gives her more information about this. Perhaps she will be given a view of some betrayer among the Wise Ones (there has to be more than Therava among the ranks, right?) or perhaps the location and disguise of a Forsaken.

6. The cockroach incident was pretty gross. It was definitely a dark omen. What do you think this incident is foreshadowing?

The cockroaches appear at a meeting in which Lelaine and Romanda were doing yet more maneuvering, right? And Sheriam was there, so if I believed in portents, I would say that the rebel Aes Sedai have some major housecleaning to do – do away with the Black Ajah and politicking. Or such large cockroaches are merely another set of eyes and ears for the Dark One and his touch upon the world was releasing another bubble of them to go forth and collect data. In such a case, it was probably good that they were exterminated. Though the smell of that many burning cock roaches (and remember, they explode) was probably revolting.

7. Hinderstap. (Oh good heavens!) What do you think that was all about? And what does it mean for Mat?

This is yet one more messed up situation that Mat has stepped into. Ugh! The Wheel of Time version of zombies! But to be aware the next day of what you have probably done while you were a brainless, violent fiend has got to weigh upon the soul. Again, I think another bubble of evil surfaced and affected this particular community in a different way than we have seen previously.

I am really hoping that Mat can do a side adventure and cure this town of this evil enchantment/bubble/whatthefuck. But I fear that it will take defeating the Dark One to put this town to rights again. In which case, the town needs a pep talk about how cool Rand is and how he has all this help in prepping for the Last Battle and he will deifnitely triumph so they just need to hold out a little longer and don’t drink themselves stupid each day and tend their sheep instead.

Squatch being cute.

Squatch being cute.

Other Tidbits:

I have to say that part of me was glad to see Cadsuane humbled by Rand’s banishment. So many folks have been treating Rand like a bumbling 20 year old man with too much power and not enough wits. Well, Cadsuane, Nynaeve, Min, Elayne, & Egwene are not without flaws and their arrogant handling of the situation (thinking to bully or steer Rand) is becoming a hindrance instead of a help.

I like that the common washer women tried to protect Shemerin and let her fade into the background, as she wishsed to do. Any one of them could have gone running to any senior Aes Sedai with the news, and would have probably been rewarded for the info.

It’s been many, many books since we last saw the fighting prowess of Mat and I liked seeing it in zombie town. He always seems to be mildly surprised when someone continues to come after him when he just knocked their buddy in to the mud.