A Memory of Light, Part V

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

This week,  Liesel at Musings on Fantasia is the host. Eivind, our WoT encyclopedia, can be found in the comments. Sue at Coffee, Cookies, & Chili Peppers has tiny violins for our bad guys.

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

1. What do you think of the Sharans so far? You can address fashion, choices, attitude, class distinction, the fact that one of the Forsaken leads them, whatever you want, or all of the above.

I really like tattoos. However, it looks like they are used to note class and since tattoos are permanent, I am not sure this allows for much movement among the classes, except for downwards.

And they totally came out of the blue…so I am not really liking them. Oh, and their entire army appears to be willing Dark Friends and not tens of thousands of people enslaved or under mass Compulsion. It would be fascinating to read about their society and see how they went about developing this army of darkness. I read on-line that the anthology Unfettered has a short story written by Jordan & Sanderson on the Sharans that was cut from this book, so I plan to check that out once we finish the series.

2. Gawyn is actively using the Bloodknife’s ring, Leilwin saves Egwene’s life, and Egwene meets with Tuon, amidst the chaos of the raging battle. What do you think, what stood out to you, what do you predict will happen?

First, I am pretty worried about Gawyn doing some heroically stupid at some point during this book and if Nynaeve isn’t around to heal him, he won’t live to see the epilogue.

I no longer think Leilwin is contemplating assassinating the Amyrlin Seat, and with Gawyn gearing up to be a bloody hero, it is probably a good thing she is hanging out with Egwene.

I am glad that Tuon is meeting all sorts of new and interesting people that keep telling her she is full of herself and dead wrong about some things. 🙂

3. It seems that both Agelmar and Bashere might be darkfriends. Do you think they are? If not, what is going on, and might it be connected to whatever Graendal was doing, messing with people’s dreams in T’A’R?

So last week, I totally missed that Bashere was having difficulties as well and thought it was just Agelmar. So I was worried about a Darkfriend amongst the Great Captains. But this week I see that it is happening to at least 2 of the Captains and we also have Perrin’s POV showing Graendal up to no good. So, is it possible to do some kind of Compulsion through dreams? Maybe it wouldn’t be called Compulsion as it would have to be more subtle than that. Anyway, I think both these men are being tampered with and, of course, the Side of Dark probably has their thoughts and mental plans about the battle. Neither of those things are good for our heroes.

4. Rand finally enters the Pit of Doom with Nynaeve and Moiraine, leaving Thom outside to witness the fight below. Rand’s blood stains the rocks, we hear the DO’s voice and Moridin shows up. What do you think of how this is playing out? How do you think Rand will fare?

So I am guessing that Rand, Nynaeve and Moiraine will have folks to battle inside the Pit, while Thom will do his best to keep anyone from attacking them from behind, if they get past the army. Rand has to battle the DO at some point, so I don’t know if he will finish the fight with Moridin first, or if the ladies will tackle him while Rand goes straight to the DO.

As for how Rand will fare….well, since Book 1 we have and he have been told he has to die. If he doesn’t die, I expect others will have to. This is THE LAST BATTLE, so I expect we will have a few dead heroes by the end of the book and if Rand is one of them, then we know he died for a good cause, having already spread his seed among three worthy ladies.

5. Oh good heavens, Perrin! Slayer tries to kill Rand in the Pit of Doom, but Perrin heads him off. They fight, and Perrin sees phantoms from the waking world (and maybe other worlds!). The wolves want him to lead them into the Last Hunt. He sees Rand and Moridin sword-fighting, speaks to Nynaeve, though she’s in the waking world, puts the dream spike around the Pit of Doom, and figures out how to defeat the red-veils (in T’A’R’ at least). Um…discuss!

Perrin sure is learning quickly! I really enjoy the scenes with him. He is so practical in his thinking and his approach to problems. I believe many wolves will die, both in the waking world and T’A’R, but I am also looking forward to Perrin leading them in the Last Hunt.

That’s cool he can speak to Nynaeve from the Dream World, but I was also concerned about him distracting her during a critical moment.

And Perrin has to face Slayer, right? There’s no way around that! They have to fight! And I fear it will be messy. Quite frankly, I have been worried for some time that out of all of Rand’s friends, Perrin is wearing the Red Shirt and won’t come out of this battle alive.

6. Fortuona has developed some interesting thoughts about Mat. She names him Rodholder. When she hears of Min’s talent, she names her a Doomseer and suddenly Min is as important (and trapped) as Mat is in the Seanchan court. Mat throws away his “emperor’s clothes” and heads for the battlefield. Were you surprised by the twist with Min? Are you excited to see Mat on the battlefield? Discuss!

While I had not thought about Min and the Seanchan, it made total sense that they would be fascinated with her and hold her in high regard, with their talk of omens every five minutes.

I am glad that Mat is making some of his own choices about clothing. After all, he is not wholly Seanchan even if he is married to the Empress. I especially laughed when he threatened bodily harm to the one of the clothing attendants who wanted to remove his small clothes. The Seanchan always take him serious in such things!

Yes, it will be good to see Mat on the battlefield. I expect his luck will help many and keep him alive.

7. Perhaps comment on some (or all) of the more minor events, such as why Moiraine and Nynaeve are getting along so well, while Moiraine and Lan aren’t, why Nynaeve would actually seem older without her braid, Elayne’s war speech before her troops, the darkness that shadowed the sun for a time, or the fact that Aviendha has officially joined Team Badass.

I hadn’t really noticed Moiraine not getting on with Lan. Perhaps she knows Nynaeve is with child and she wants Lan to be more careful? But Moiraine has always struck me as more practical than that – if there was ever a time for risk takers, it’s during the Last Battle.

Elayne’s war speech was pretty good. I liked that she didn’t give them false hope and yet pushed them towards something worthy of fighting for.

There’s something like 6 solar and 6 lunar eclipses each year (but best you look up those numbers). Obviously, it matters where on Earth you are as to how many you personally witness each year. But the thing is, eclipses aren’t that uncommon on our world, and so I would expect one to show up in Randland. But putty my nerdy girl glasses aside, I really enjoyed this small bit because our history shows humans reading a lot into eclipses and comets during major battles, so why not during the Last battle?

Hooray for Aviendha! You know she will make sure shit gets done.

Other Tidbits:

Demandred sure does seem to have a big ego on him – even larger than many of the Forsaken.

I think all those years of stealing pies and messing with badgers in the Two Rivers really prepared Mat for having words with Tuon on a regular basis. 😉

 

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.

 

A Memory of Light, Part I

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Talmanes is my hero!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Other Tidbits:

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

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

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

 

 

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?

 

Towers of Midnight, Part VII

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, Liesel at Musings on Fantasia is the host. Eivind, our WoT encyclopedia, can be found in the comments. Sue at Coffee, Cookies, & Chili Peppers  has the insight and wicked humor.

This week, we covered the Chapters 41-48. Spoilers run rampant for this section and all previous books below!

1. Galad names a punishment for Perrin. What did you think of it? Also Perrin becomes, in essence, Galad’s commander (and therefore commander of the Children of the Light!) for the Last Battle. Thoughts? Predictions?

I thought Galad’s punishment for Perrin was pretty just. It wasn’t over the top and it gives the grieving families some closure (assuming there are grieving families, because these Whitecloak are a bunch of assholes and perhaps the families are actually relieved to have them permanently gone).

That said, I would still like to see Galad dig into the Whitecloaks actions at Two Rivers and meet out some justice.

I expect that acceptance of Perrin as Galad’s commander will come slowly – like we have seen with Galad and Bornhald. Others (hopefully only a few like Byar) will never accept it and will either have to be put down or will split off and go cause trouble elsewhere (hopefully troubling trollocs).

2. Gawyn and Egwene finally reconcile and talk of marriage. Gawyn takes three ring ter’angreal from dead sisters. What do you think he plans to do with them?

I found it amusing that Egwene is totally freaked by the idea of marrying without her parents’ permission!

I am not sure what Gawyn plans to do with the rings. Perhaps he will take them to Elayne for analysis and replication (hopefully without the death results). Or, if he hears of Perrin’s new found ability to forge weapons of power, he may ask Perrin and his Channelers to have a look at them and replicate. It would be quite useful to have rings that gave you a boost of stamina or strength or cunning by using up a little of your life force, but of course our good guys will want them not to kill the wearer.

3. Comment on the fact that Lan finally, officially raises the banner of the golden crane.

About damn time! Really, I am still surprised that it has taken so long for our heroes to come to terms with who they are and what they can do and what they must do. I think a lot of epic fantasy has that growth stage for the heroes, but by mid-series they have most of it figured out and are on board with the mission and then spend the rest of the series kicking ass. Here, we are quite near the end of the series and we still have some outstanding errant heroes dithering (yes, I am looking straight at Mat, and perhaps Brigitte, and perhaps just squinting at Loial).

Anyway, that aside, it is freaking awesome that he has finally realized that he is not going alone, even if he still believes he could have done some good as a lone man fighting hoards of trollocs. Idiot.

4. Morgase and Tallanvor marry and Morgase finally returns to Caemlyn with Galad to see Elayne. Just talk about whatever stood out to you.

Morgase had to be asked by Tallanvor. She does need the romance to make it work. I hope Tallanvor is up for it.

It was great seeing the family reunion and also seeing how drama-free things were between Elayne and Morgase over who has what power. It was all very practical.

5. The future of the Two Rivers is discussed and Perrin is given titles. What do you think? Fitting? No so much? Do you think these arrangements will hold in the long term? What of the political “pact” that seems to be forming?

Elayne was a spoiled child during this meeting! WTF? Andor has been ignoring Two Rivers and the greater Emond’s Field for generations and Elayne and Morgase both know this. Also, Elayne has traveled with Perrin, knows that Rand and other Two Rivers folk hold him in high esteem, so threatening to kill him for his ‘rebellion’ was such a petty opening. I know I haven’t been Elayne’s fan throughout this series, but damn! Why did Rand have to mate with the most stupid of the three? Their kids will need the best tutors in the land to keep up with the rest of the noble children.

So, besides wanting to stuff Elayne in a closet and let Morgase handle the chat, I thought the outcome was good. In essence, Two Rivers is autonomous but will ride to Andor’s need whenever there is a need (like the Last Battle) and Andor will assist Two Rivers whenever there are trollocs (hopefully).

6. Androl! I don’t know if we’ve seen him yet (can’t remember) but he’ll play a fairly big role until the end. What do you make of him–good, evil, somewhere in between? And what do you think Taim is up to?

I don’t think we have met Androl before. I think he is good, trying to keep people out of trouble and alive, holding the group together until Logain returns.

I think Taim wants the Asha’men overusing the power to make them a little wild, a little crazy, and that much easier to control and point at a target and turn them loose. I suspect the target will be Rand at some point.

7. What did you think of Mat and Perrin’s little reunion and story swapping? How about the fact that Tuon (Fortunata) still seems intent on destroying the White Tower?

It was so funny to see Mat show up with a badger in a bag! Hopefully, he turned it loose shortly after joking around with Perrin. But I was also, WTF? Where did he come from? Why was he in the trees near Perrin’s camp? Did I miss something? I loved their chitchat about life and being married.

Fortunata is not on my Good List. She not only sees it as a necessity to have tamed Channelers, she also enjoys breaking them! Ugh! I don’t think I can vote for Fortunata. If she doesn’t have some sort of epiphany concerning slavery and basic human rights soon, she will have to die.

Her continued intentions to destroy the White Tower are not well thought out. She knows the Dragon Reborn is good friends with many Aes Sedai and that he supports the White Tower’s continued existence. Do the Seanchan leaders truly feel they could withstand the might of the Tower, the Dragon Reborn, and also the forthcoming tides of darkness? Can’t we just put them all back on boats and send them home to fight hopeless battles!

8. Aviendha feels a resonance with the glass columns and steps through a second time (big no-no, apparently). This time, she’s sure she’s seeing the future, rather than the past. What do you make of what she saw?

At first, I thought all of it was the past. The Seanchan are supposedly descended from Arthur’s armies that sailed east and landed in what is today Seanchan homelands. So I thought the last vision was of Arthur’s armies pushing the early Aiel about.

But if that is not the case and it was indeed a vision of the possible future, then I expect Aviendha will rally the Aiel and the Seanchan and Fortunata will have yet one more force to deal with. Fortunata is not use to loosing and I expect she will have quite a shock to her system when she does. While I am not a big fan of the a’dam, perhaps Fortunata should wear one for a short time to prove to her that she can also Channel, even if it is just a smidgeon. Perhaps she could be Aviendha’s maid in white for a year. Aviendha would be a hard task master, but fair.

Squatch having a snack
Squatch having a snack

Other Tidbits:

I think we all could see that Byar would need to be killed at some point. I did not expect it to be Bornhald, but I did find it quite fitting.

I was surprised so little time was spent on Lan realizing he was now Bonded to Nynaeve.

I am looking forward to Gawyn seeing his mom alive and having to smack himself in the face for wanting Rand dead over her supposed death.

Mat is married and still hasn’t bedded his bride. I am sure that is frustrating!

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?!?

 

 

The Gathering Storm, Part III

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 Sue’s at Coffee, Cookies, & Chili Peppers for logic and tiny, tiny violins (on occasion). Stop by Liesel’s at Musings on Fantasia. There’s plenty of cool non-spoilery fan art.

This week, we covered the Chapters 14-21. Spoilers run rampant for this section and all previous books below!

1) When get a little more quality time with Semirhage. Cadsuane seems to have come up with a way to get under her skin. Do you think it will be enough to get answers from Semirhage? Cadsuane believes it is important to keep Semirhage alive in order to learn useful weaves from her. Do you agree with this logic? Or are you all for killing her?

I think that Cadsuane’s first victory with Semirhage was partly due to the surprise factor. It has probably been millennia since someone spanked Semirhage (there is a lot of spanking in this series, don’t you think?). But I expect Semirhage will get over this initial shock and the ladies will have to come up with more insidious ways to disrespect Semirhage. What could be worse than being spanked in front of servants and eating your green beans off the floor? Well, the Aiel are pretty good at degrading people, so I expect Sorilea will play a part in breaking Semirhage.

I don’t agree with Cadsuane about keeping Semirhage alive in order to learn weaves from her. We have some Aes Sedai who are 1) very strong in the power and 2) have been developing new weaves and rediscovering old forgotten weaves. I would sleep easier knowing Semirhage was dead.

2) Moridin and Rand have a heart to heart. Rand seems to understand the two of them are connected somehow. Do you think he will make use of this information? Upon waking from this chat, Rand confesses to Min about Lews Therin. Will Min tell others as she told others about Rand’s time in the box? And would that be a good or bad thing?

Rand has a lot on his plate right now and I don’t think he will put too much thought into the fact that he is tied to Moridin. I expect that this little fact won’t occur to him again until some critical moment where either someone damages/kills Moridin and it sends Rand into shock or Rand needs Moridin taken out and decides to put a sword through his own foot to distract Moridin.

I expect that Min will tell someone at some point. Perhaps Cadsuane real soon in order to explain to her why Rand is snappish. Perhaps she will tell Elayne or even Aviendha later in order to explain why Rand is trying so hard to keep them all at arm’s length. In this particular case, I don’t think it would be a bad thing, though if Rand were to feel a little betrayed by Min being chatty, I couldn’t blame him either. This struggle with Lews Therin has been very private and very personnel for several long months.

3) Egwene matches wits with three White Sisters (Ferane, Miyasi, & Tesan). And then she is forced to match wits wits with Elaida in front of the Sitters. Will there be harsh punishment for Egwene, beyond the beating Elaida gave her? How will the Sitters react to this? Or will we still have to wait for the Seanchan to invade before the Aes Sedai get their act together?

Oh yeah. I expect that Elaida may even order Egwene Stilled. I think this is my greatest concern for Egwene right now. If Elaida ordered her killed, I believe too many of the Tower Aes Sedai would object or even outright smuggle Egwene out. Of course, Egwene can show others Sisters Traveling and be out of the Tower that way too. But Elaida could order her Stilled and Egwene might not have the time to escape that punishment.

I really, really want the Sitters and the rest of the Aes Sedai to rise up against Elaida but I expect we will need the Seanchan to come boiling over the Tower walls before the Aes Sedai decide Elaida is too stupid and arrogant to lead a paper doll making class. So I expect the Sitters will talk amongst themselves, maybe even among the strongest of each of their Ajahs. Perhaps they might even start making plans, drawing up draft letters to Elaida asking her to step down, etc. But I wouldn’t expect any of them to take action right away.

4) The rebel Aes Sedai have word that the White Tower now has the art of Traveling. Do you believe Elaida is aware of this weave? Or is it just a handful of Red Aes Sedai testing it out? And what do you make of Lelaine’s latest actions? What can Siuan do from this point on in holding the Aes Sedai together?

I don’t think Elaida is aware of this weave, nor does she know how to do it herself. If she did, she wouldn’t be able to hold back from throwing that fact in Egwene’s face. I this it is the Black Ajah that has finally learned it and is testing it out while gathering tribute. The rebel Aes Sedai would be wise to check with their folks on the inside of the Tower to see if any gates have opened behind the walls or if there is talk about this new miraculous weave.

Lelaine is an idiot. She won’t be seen as the hero of this mess that she helped create. Of course she thinks by encouraging chaos and panic that she will be able to step in and be the voice of reason. But things won’t go down that way. Of course, I have a bit more knowledge than she does – like Egwene’s current conflict inside the Tower and also the Seanchan plans to invade the area.

Siuan is taking the correct actions- making sure the camp is as secure as possible. Of course, when the Seanchan show up she will still be surprised, but at least the camp is already on full alert. As to holding the camp together, I expect more Novices will be coming to her to help carry her laundry, bringing her info and listening to her advice. But Egwene needs to hurry up!

5) Tuon holds court in Ebou Dar. Did you find her offer to Beslan fair? Now that she has seen the heads of trollocs, creatures she believed to be of myth, do you think she will be more open to listening to Randlanders?

OK, I have to say that I wasn’t a fan of the Seanchan when they first appeared and it has taken like 10 books for me to start to like them as individuals. Tuon’s high-handed take with Beslan just ticked me off once again. Beslan was given 2 choices – swear fealty or be executed (with honor). That’s it. And Tuon made it sound like both were favors. The Seanchan don’t understand why the Randlanders resist them so, continue to uprise, don’t take the Seanchan oaths seriously and it is because of this kind of thing. Tuon did not show respect for Beslan’s culture nor for his sovereignty. Leaving him in place to rule under the Seanchan is a convenience for them. I think Tuon needs a spanking.

I really hope that she takes on a Randlander as a consultant, even if it is Mat. Having trolloc bodies and heads as examples should give her pause the next time a Randlander says something about ta’verens or bubbles of evil, etc. It might be easier to convince her Truthsayer/Speaker and then have her convince Tuon that she needs to put weight behind reports of such things.

6) Mat opens by comparing women to goats. Did you find his behavior to be ‘husbandly’? Was his own ta’veren-ness working against him in keeping the Aes Sedai with him or was it his own goat-like behavior?

Ha! Well, for Mat, yeah, he was acting a bit protective of Tuon. I guess I need to see him in a tavern, a little toasted, with plenty of flirtatious young ladies around to see if he is truly acting husbandly.

I am guessing that Mat will run into some trouble soon and that the Aes Sedai will come in handy. Therefore, I think his own ta’veren-ness kept him from sending them off with 20 horses and being free of them. Perhaps he will need their help getting off to his super secret mission to rescue Moiraine.

7) Perrin returns to the dream-wolf world, promptly insults the wolves, and is tossed out. Will he be able to conquer his own fears? And if he does, what will he do with the wolves then? Faile has yet more secrets from Perrin. Do you find this good or bad?

Perrin has set his mind to conquering his fear of his inner wolf and I expect he will do just that. Perrin takes a while to consider and decide his course of action. but once he has made that decision, that is what he does.

I expect that we will see Perrin using his inner wolf and the willing wolves around him as scouts at first, but then as soldiers. In the end, I am pretty sure they will be at the last battle and once that is all done, I expect Perrin will have to howl in grief as he buries their numerous bodies. sniffle

I think Faile is silly to keep the secret of Masema’s death from Perrin. But I can see why she would find it difficult to tell Perrin about Rolan, how it protected her even as he flirted with her, how Perrin killed him. For now, I say let her have her privacy in this matter but I expect their relationship would be the stronger if she shared this tale later, perhaps after Tarmon gaidon.

Squatch being cute.
Squatch being cute.

Other Tidbits:

You know how some movies and books do body counts – the total number of dead by the end of the story? Well, WoT needs a spanking count – total number of characters spanked, and yes, if a character gets spanked more than once, we can count each individual spanking. Swats to the bottom while being carried through snow by an Aiel counts too.

We have several arrogant groups who all try very hard to hold to their ideas of honor and justice; the Aiel, the Aes Sedai, and the Seanchan. I could toss in the Sea Folk but we haven’t heard much from them this book yet. I sometimes find myself wanting to smack all their heads together. Each seems convinced their way is the best way and to hell with learning about the others.

Everyone wants the Dragon Reborn to kneel at their feet – the White Tower (even Egwene!) and the Seanchan in particular. I find this notion very amusing. Rand, kneel. Ha!

The Seanchan still want to enslave all the women who can channel! Argh! I can’t root for these folks no matter how organized they are, no matter how likely they would be the ones to actually get the job done of uniting Randland.