The Gathering Storm, Part II

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

This week, we covered the Chapters 7-13. Spoilers run rampant for this section and all previous books below!

1. Questions are being raised about the loyalty of the Aiel, and that Rand keeps misusing them. What are your thoughts? Could we really see another Shaido-like uprising?

Once again, we have culture clash. While the Aiel feel they have worked hard to teach Rand proper Aiel etiquette, few have tried to learn wetlander ways. And, really, they have only had several months, not several years, to get to know each other, and under stressful circumstances. Normally, I would say slap them all upside the head and tell each of them they each have to meet the other partway. But in this instance, Rand really does need their backing and he has been rather callous in several ways. But Rand probably doesn’t need yet another slap upside the head. He needs a life assistant with some political finesse.

I don’t think we will have another Shaido uprising. After all, can there possibly be two Aiel as stupid as Sevanna in a role of power? I think, if anything does happen other than Tarmon Gaidon, it will be that some Aiel choose to quietly leave, melting off into the night, returning to their land of sand.

2. Siuan and Bryne have a heart to heart. Do you see this relationship finally blossoming? Everyone still thinks Moiraine is dead. What impact do you think she could have on the story when she returns?

Well, as slow paced as this relationship has been, I think they might not actually get around to kissing until after Tarmon Gaidon. But, yes, I think they will make quite the formidable team, whether in a time of war or in a time of peace. And I was a little surprised that Bryne had not put together at least the underlying reason Siuan and the rest  put their oaths on pause and ran away. He has known Siuan for some months now and can clearly see she is a serious person, with all her swearing about fish guts, etc.

While I believe Siuan and Moiraine were once upon a time lovers, I don’t think Moiraine’s return to the land of the living will endanger Bryne’s chances with Siuan. I do think that plenty of people will be astounded, maybe to the point of turning into quivering jelly (like Lan) and then the hunt for Lanfear will begin anew.

3. Perrin is belabored by refugees, but is still reluctant  to take on his lordly duties. Will something more have to happen here, before Perrin achieves his “final form” before the Last Battle?

Maybe someone needs to tell Perrin a little white lie, like Faile. And that lie is that Perrin only has to be Lordly until the final battle is said and done and then he can go back to forging, sheep, and carrots. Now, us world savvy people know that is highly unlikely to be the case, but I think if someone with an honest face lied to Perrin he would believe them and get on with being lordly for a bit.

Though I do like his style of holding court. At least he is getting something worthwhile done while telling everyone ‘No, are you an idiot?’

4. Ituralde is delivered from his death trap and is sent to Bashere’s homeland, while Bashere is in Ituralde’s. Would it perhaps have been prudent to switch places? If a shadow invasion of the Borderlands really is imminent, wouldn’t it be good to actually approach the Borderlanders instead?

Once again, I think Rand is just trying to juggle a lot of things and some of them, he doesn’t juggle well. He is rather handicapped in some ways, and I am not talking about his missing hand. He has very little experience dealing with world leaders, and most of that has been under less than pleasant circumstances. He doesn’t know what the final game board will look like. He has all these independent thinking and acting entities, some actively working against him some accidentally acting against him. So, I think he grabs a friendly, usable piece and puts them where they are immediately needed, and then doesn’t bother to switch things around later.

Besides, If either Bashere or Ituralde had to stay behind to keep their country safe instead of honoring a call from Rand, I think that is exactly what they would do in their homeland. And Elayne might very well be pissed at Rand for scooping up the Borderlanders and putting them back in the Borderlands, since she is using them to shore up her own crown.

5. Egwene’s infiltration is gathering momentum. She’s talking to sitters as a near equal and has even been in contact with the Black Ajah hunters. Meanwhile, Lelaine is winning the political war on the outside. Should Egwene start hurrying? Having earned the respect of these sisters, what would be her next step?

Of course I want Egwene to hurry, but these are big reptile squashing tomes for the final 3 books. Really, as much credit as she has garnered from the Tower Sisters, I still think that Elaida will have to do something stupid before they really take Egwene’s side. And then there is that prophetic dream Egwene had back in Book 11 or Book 12 – about the Seanchan washing over the Tower. It would be funny if Rand asked the Seanchan to give Egwene an assist…..

As for what Egwene should do next….Well, I think she needs to start a knitting or sewing circle where novices, Accepted, Sisters of any Ajah are welcomed. There would be biscuits and forkroot tea, of course. She does want to start breaking down all these barriers between Ajahs and this seems like something simple that she would be able to do quietly.

6. Gawyn is finally on the move, but where? Egwene does not want a rescue… do you expect him to listen or will he just make a mess of things?

In many respects, Gawyn isn’t an idiot so I expect he will get clear of the Younglings and the White Tower Aes Sedai before he tries to head for Tar Valon. And, yes, I expect him to bollucks up his ‘rescue’ of Egwene.

I need to consult a map. Is there the slightest chance that while he is dodging the Younglings, he will run into Perrin and Faile, and hence his mom? Because that would take one major task off his list (Kill Rand for killing Morgase). Of course, if Egwene doesn’t get off her high horse about Asha’men bonding Aes Sedai, she may send Gawyn after Rand’s head herself. Egwene will at least have sense to wait until after Tarmon Gaidon, right?

Squatch being cute.
Squatch being cute.

Other Tidbits:

It was fun to watch Cadsuane bring Rand up short in that meeting with the Aiel and have Nynaeve thinking she was just about to do the same thing. Though I don’t think it would have had quite the same effect since Nynaeve has been bossing Rand around for years, whereas Cadsuane just does it when he needs it.

I know Lelaine and Romanda think they are the only two vying for power, but they really have over looked Siuan. She is playing them off each other, buying Egwene time, and holding the ‘rebels’ together. Oh, and has time to do laundry, and do it well.

I think Ituralde took it pretty well, having the Dragon Reborn swing by for tea, a chat, and a magical gate opening to relative safety.

As with so many drugs, can you build up a tolerance to forkroot? The imp in me is hoping that Egwene will be the first one to notice this and put it to good use.

Gawyn’s final chat with the older Warder was chilling. I wasn’t sure Gawyn had a friend there or not until he turned and left Gawyn to saddle his horse.

The Gathering Storm, Part I

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 the host. You can catch Eivind, our WoT encyclopedia, in the comments.  Stop by Liese’sl at Musings on Fantasia. There’s plenty of cool non-spoilery fan art.

Once again, sorry for posting late. The last four weeks have been super intense for me and I was a vendor at this big weekend show and just simply came back exhausted physically and socially.

This week, we covered the Prologue-Chapter 6. Spoilers run rampant for this section and all previous books below!

1) Rand has sent a message to Tuon via a released damane, but it seems that it might be some time before she hears of his invitation. Do you think that this delay will make a difference? Will the Seanchan be too distracted by the newly arrived Trolloc hordes and Rodel Ituralde’s army?

No matter how Rand sends a message to Tuon, I still think her connection to Mat will be key in making the much-needed peace. And Rand was an idiot for not taking the Seanchan hierarchy into account. I know he doesn’t have much experience with it, but he does have a lot of experience with various countries/races/beings at this point and could heeded the damane’s words about propriety, etc.

And, yes, I expect the trolocs and Ituralde’s army will slow the Seanchan down a bit. Already, the Seanchan are showing respect for Ituralde’s battlefield prowess.

2) We had only a short glimpse of the Forsaken in this section, but there were some tantalizing hints. Given Graendal’s thoughts about Demandred, where do you think he has made his base of operations? What do you make of Moridin’s issues with his left hand?

I keep looking at Mazrim Taim. I always picture him in black, rubbing his hands together, and snickering quietly to himself. He has an army, of sorts. But I also stumbled across an unmarked spoiler months ago that makes me think that Taim is not Demandred. My brain dead cells aren’t coming up with another possbility, though knowing the Forsaken, it will be someone incompetent and lacking team player skills.

In Book 12, we had some hints that Moridin and Rand were some how connected. Now they each have fidgety left hands. I fear we may be up for a Harry Potter moment at the end of the book, where Rand has to actually die in order to kill the last vestiges of the evil Moridin/Dark One. But then Rand will be resurrected for that happy ending.

3) The Prophet finally met his end, but not before we got to spend a little time inside his highly disturbing mind. What do you make of his vision of the Dragon? Do you think that his death will remove the Dragonsworn as an organized force?

Oh, I forget what Masema was rambling on about before Faile shoved something pointy into him. I was a little surprised that Masema was taken out so easily, with very little lead up to it. I was not surprised that he believed that Perrin had to be taken out.

Since the majority of the Dragonsworn were forced into this mad army, I expect we won’t see a major force of them again. There may be a few that feel the need to keep the ‘dream’ alive and try to build some messed up church with very strict rules in Rand’s name later. And there may also be several thousand folks who feel Rand owes them something for the evil done in his name. I would be more worried about those folks.

4) We see Egwene go through some serious changes this week, as she realizes why the Aiel laugh at pain. Do you think that she is correct to think that Elaida’s rule would come to an end soon even without her own efforts? What do you make of the severe disruptions that are occurring in Tar Valon: are they worse than the ones we are seeing elsewhere?

I think Egwene’s demeanor and thoughtful comments are pushing things along. Yes, given time, Elaida would dig her own grave. But there is this looming time limit with the end of the world scheduled to happen in a few months. So someone has to move things along in order to have time to tack the Tower back together long enough to do some badassery fighting against evil…instead of innocents and other well-meaning folks.

That whole scene with the dungeon cell going all gooey was extremely disturbing! Still, I don’t think this is any worse than the ghost city that swallowed part of the caravan that was with the circus party a few books back.

5) Poor Aviendha is off counting tiny seeds whilst running across country. Can you offer any suggestions about what she has done wrong in the eyes of the Wise Ones?

I think this IS the final test. Yes, I believe it is fuckery by the Wise Ones to test Aviendha’s patience, mettle, and problem solving skills. Have you ever done that blanket test with your dogs? You take a blanket or towel, toss it over your standing dog, covering their head and see how long it takes them to get out of it. It’s suppose to be an intelligence test. Most of my dogs can toss it off within 5-20 seconds. But I did have one dog who would simply lie down and go to sleep.

I think all this BS from the Wise Ones is the blanket and they are counting to see how long it takes Aviendha to get out from under it.

6) We finally touch base with Gawyn in his efforts to disrupt the rebel siege. Can you think of anything that might make him finally see sense and join the rebel cause?

Well, I think if Gawyn saw Egwene’s breasts while she ordered him to join her side, he would do just that. 😉

But that isn’t likely to happen in the waking world any time soon. So I think he needs to see the bad guys do some truly bad guy things, like killing kids, squelching puppies, peeing in churches, etc. Gawyn has a head on his shoulders, but he also has a very loyal heart. So he needs something to slap him upside the head to break that loyalty.

7) Cadsuane and a few other Sisters are trying to get information out of Semirhage. Do you think they have any hope at all of succeeding, or will we have to endure many more creepy stories about how she can do truly diabolical things to peoples’ bodies?

I believe Cadsuane is correct. Physical torture would not undo Semirhage. She would just catalog her own reactions, noting what was of interest. And the silly psychological torture they are running isn’t going to do it either. So I look forward to seeing what Cadsuane comes up with to break Semirhage. What would break Cadsuane? Perhaps the threat of infinite boredom. I wonder if there is some large ter’angreal that would hold someone in stasis with no input from the world and yet leave their mind to spin in circles? Hmmm…Stasis Box anyone?

Squatch being cute.
Squatch being cute.

Other Tidbits:

Did I hear that right? Ituralde’s first love was a soft-handed prince with a jeweled sword grip? Ituralde is turning out to be one of my favorite side characters. I could go kick this bejeweled prince in the arse for him.

Can’t Rand use the Power to make a flaming left hand, or one out of glass or mist? Perhaps that takes more concentration than the poor lad has at the moment.

Faile swears her folks to secrecy over killing Masema. Oh, yeah, right. Like keeping secrets from Perrin has worked out so great so far!

May I slap Rand? He doesn’t want Semirhage tortured because she has a vagina? If the Dark One can pull the gender swap, surely the most powerful Aes Sedai can come up with something along the same lines!

Knife of Dreams, Part VIII

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

This week, Sue at Coffee, Cookies, & Chili Peppers, a place for deft reasoning, is our host. Make sure to check out Liesel’s at Musings on Fantasia, home of the cool non-spoilery fan art. Eivind, our WoT encyclopedia, can be found in the comments over at Sue’s.

This week, we covered Chapters 32-End. Spoilers run rampant for this section and all previous books below!

1) As we predicted, Birgitte was left to rescue Elayne from certain maiming at the hands of the evil Black Sisters. Were you surprised by her solution to Elayne’s capture? What did you think of the way that she manipulated the Windfinders: do you see this causing problems for Elayne in the future?

While I didn’t not even think of the Windfinders as a solution to the captured-once-again Elayne, it makes total sense. Birgitte had to use the resources she had on hand and with the Aes Sedai out of the picture, that left the Windfinders and the Warders.

I expect there will be some initial uproar about being tricked/forced into the fray, but by the time we reach Tarmon Guidon I believe the Windfinders will have realized that they can’t simply sit this one out on their sea ships.

I would be more worried that Elayne’s closest advisers and those that will make up her government will see her as a rash idiot.

2) Arymilla is defeated and Elayne is suddenly alone in her claim to the Lion Throne. Did you expect a more difficult fight for the Far Madding Gate, or did you think that Arymilla’s plan was doomed to fail? What did you think of Elayne’s assessment of Sylvase Caeren: did Lord Nasin’s sudden incapacity surprise you at all?

Since there was this underlying dissension to Arymilla’s forces, I didn’t expect her plan to work. When Elayne was captured, I thought briefly that Arymilla might give her a good fight for the throne, but then Birgitte stepped in and sorted it all out with a forceful hand.

I thought Lord Nasin and this ‘daft’ granddaughter (or niece?) Sylvase were in it together, so I was a little surprised that he was actually removed from the picture. Sylvase seems like a vicious little creature, doesn’t she?

3) We finally get to really meet one of the Ogier Gardeners, who are surprisingly similar to their cousins on this side of the Sea. Were they what you expected or did you expect them to be more violent or aggressive than Loial? What do think that each group of Ogier would think of the other?

Yeah, I expected them to be more militant. We see a little bit that they appreciate hierarchy and proper respect, but I did expect them to be more into warrior codes and warrior way of life.

I think the Randland Ogier are going to be rather upset to meet their Seanchan cousins. After all, they are pretty non-violent unless pressed. They spend most of their time in long-winded talks and deep contemplation. They have taken a much more philosophical approach to life. But this causes problems too as their inaction can lead to death and mayhem just as the Seanchan cousins can bring death and mayhem by blindly following orders.

4) Frankly, I was amazed by the way that Luan and the others capitulated so easily, giving Elayne an uncontested path to the Throne. Were you surprised that we finally saw the resolution of a plotline? Do you think that Ellorien will cause any real trouble, or will she remain loyal to Andor?

Since Arymilla was defeated, the other Houses were looking for an excuse to capitulate. Elayne’s ‘deft’ handling of the ‘invading’ Borderlanders was their excuse. After all, they know that she has some tie to the Dragon Reborn, is a super strong Aes Sedai, is a personal friend to the (contested) Amyrlin Seat, and apparently, has the cooperation of the Windfinders. So, yeah, I would capitulate as soon as I saw a path to do so without losing too much face.

I don’t expect Ellorien to be a problem. I see in this book that several baddies have met their fall from grace and I think this is because we are gearing up for the big challenges. Once the Forsaken and the Dark One start playing hard ball, all the remaining little idiots (for example – Elaida) are going to fall. More and more, folks will realize that Randland must unite, at least temporarily, if there is to be a chance to survive and get back to the constant struggle for world domination.

5) Speaking of resolutions: Mat is married! We knew that it would happen, but how far did your jaw drop when Tuon made her declaration? We learn some of her reasons for saying the words, but do you think that the marriage can survive their positions on opposite sides of the Seanchan invasion?

Even though I really wanted Tuon to say the words this book, I was still surprised when she did it. It wasn’t a romantic moment. It was basically a political move, even if she enjoys kissing him.

Yeah, this is one messed up marriage. Tuon and Mat are on such opposite sides when it comes to the invasion. Tuon believes it is her right to rule Randland, collar all the Channelers, and have everyone be OK with that. Perfectly logical. NOT! And Mat, well, I am totally on his side about this one. Perhaps they can have a long distance relationship? Tuon and the Seanchan can return to Seanchanland where Tuon can rule and enslave people and have everyone be OK with that. Nat can be Rand’s wingman at his wedding to the ladies after Tarmon Guidon.

6) Suroth’s treachery is revealed and Tuon takes direct control of the Return. Did you expect Suroth to be removed so easily? Do you think that the remaining Seanchan nobility, such as Galgan, are loyal to Tuon or do you suspect that further Darkfriends are lurking in their ranks?

No, I didn’t expect Suroth to be that easy to remove. Despite her Darkfriend taint, she seems to still have this Seanchan hierarchy in her blood and can’t so easily, nor openly, break free of it. I expect there are further dissenters, even Darkfriends, among the ranks. How can there not be? Some will surely want to return home and salvage what they can. Others just want to grab power for themselves and see this invasion as a way to do so.

7) Taim ‘welcomes’ a delegation of Reds looking to find Warders. Does Taim’s demeanor, trappings and attitude give you any hint that he might NOT be a Very Bad Man? Do you expect the Red Sisters to leave the Black Tower alive and will any asha’man agree to Bonding?

Ooo! This is a very bad thing indeed. Logain and his crew have bonded sisters, but they are not evil like Taim. If Taim and his like-minded asha’men have bonded aes sedai (because I totally expect Taim to turn the tables and forcibly bond the ladies to his trusted men), then Taim has that much more power for taking out whoever he sets his eyes on. I think he has been glaring at Rand for the past 4 books, so if I was Rand, I would be concerned.

Other Tidbits:

I thought it interesting that Elayne and Birgitte and the rest of the ‘adults’ all have this idea in their heads about what age is appropriate for a young ruler to join in battle. No one likes having kids killed in battle, but sooner or later, everyone is going to be involved in the fracas, right?

Ogiers can be hurt by name calling – makes their ears droop. Poor things.

Knife of Dreams, Part VII

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

This week, Liesel’s at Musings on Fantasia, home of the cool non-spoilery fan art, is our host. Eivind, our WoT encyclopedia, can be found in the comments over there. Check out Sue’s post at Coffee, Cookies, & Chili Peppers for insights and deft reasoning and.

This week, we covered Chapters 27-31. Spoilers run rampant for this section and all previous books below!

1) Why do you think Semirhage’s disguise of the Power failed? Did you see the Rand-losing-his-hand thing coming?

I am guessing that one of Cadsuane’s angreals counteracted the glamor. Cadsuane was there for that scene, right? Or am I just making that up? I guess there could be some innate power about Rand that allows him or Lews Therin to see through glamors. It wouldn’t be the first time that some character suddenly sprung a new ability as they gain in power.

I did not see Rand losing his hand at all. That completely surprised me. We haven’t had any of our main characters so permanently and detrimentally wounded before. Yes, Rand does have those irritating never-healing wounds in his side, but they don’t slow him down. Mat has that scar on his neck, but it just gives him an excuse to wear lacy scarves. Thom has a limp, but not bad. Perrin lost his family to Trollocs (which was harsh and he is definitely emotionally scarred from that), but again, he isn’t physically hindered. So, yes, I was quite surprised.

2) Do you think Mat’s plan against the Seanchan is a good one? Will it turn the tide?

I really am not sure if it is a good one. Tuon seems to think he is a lion in the field, and I expect she was trained in military tactics. Mat’s military leaders also think he is pretty hot shit in the field, so that bodes well too. But I think Tuon and her actions/orders to the Seanchan army are going to way in heavily on the outcome. Even if Mat totally rules the battlefield, there will be another battle, and another battle, etc. The Seanchan don’t really have a motto that allows them to retreat or surrender as a whole. Plus, we as the readers know that their homeland is totally screwed. So if they can’t go home, and if they can’t dominate Randland, what choice does that leave them with? I fear it may be fight until the last Seanchan warrior is dead.

3) Tam showed up! (Yea!) What did you think of his reaction to confirmation that Rand is the Dragon Reborn?

Wow! Another thing I wasn’t expecting. And I was a little surprised that Mat put him high up in the pecking order of his army. I know Mat can trust Tam, but Mat hasn’t seen the badass military Tam that we all suspected lurked under that sheepherding, moonshine brewing farmer that we met way back in Book 1.

I think Tam took the news pretty well. But then, he had heard about it before confirming it with Mat so I suspect he had plenty of time to go through all the emotions.

4) Masema shows up at an inconvenient time to (somewhat) ruin Perrin’s plans. What do you think he’s doing? What’s his endgame?

I think Masema was confirming with his own eyes how ‘evil’ Perrin is by working with Channelers, etc. But I also suspect he was giving final instructions to Aram (see next question).

If crazy Masema has an endgame, I think it is Randland domination via religious fervor. But if he were to ever achieve such a victory, Rand would have to be dead. Hence, Masema would have everyone, including himself, dirnk the Kool-aid to join the Dragon Reborn in some afterlife utopia that caters to crazy mass-murderers.

5) All kinds of crazy stuff in this chapter! Aram tries to kill Perrin and dies himself. Tylee captures Sevanna. And Galina ends up in Therava’s clutches, headed for the Waste. What did you think  of all these twists? Did you wish for other outcomes? How do you think they’ll affect the story going forward?

I was pretty sad to see Aram go in the way he did. I thought he would go out in the fight protecting Rand or someone else in some senseless act of heroism that would torture Perrin’s soul forever. Nope, instead he turns on Perrin, per Masema’s influence, and tries to kill him. Is it just me, or has there been an undercurrent of bromance going on for several books (Aram digging on Perrin, though Perrin is totally oblivious to this)?

I was very satisfied with Sevanna being captured and lugged around as a trophy across Tylee’s pommel having her ass slapped. Originally, I had hoped someone would kill Galina, but her punishment is ever so much better. She gets to live, but it is not the life she wanted at all. Haha! I wish there was a side story about her life of drudgery.

I think that Aram’s death will affect Perrin’s psyche going forward, of course.

6) Elayne encounters some black Sisters and, in her haste, ends up in hot water. We had a cliffhanger on this. What do you think will happen next? Were you surprised that it was actually Careanne that was Black Ajah, contrary to Elayne’s suspicions?

Elayne may be an efficient administrator for a country, but she sucks at espionage, battle, and winning her throne. She already owes Rand a very big kiss for keeping her throne warm for her. Now she needs saving. Rand might have to do it, but he just suffered a nasty injury and has his own worries. So maybe Brigitte and crew can save her? Did all of Elayne’s aes sedai get captured in this folly or are there more that Brigitte can call upon? There’s the Warders, so they might be able to pull it off. Either way, Elayne is going to owe her life and possibly her throne to someone else, again.

Quite frankly, the cast of characters in the Black Ajah/suspected Black Ajah category have run together for me. So I wasn’t particularly surprised, but then I was just going with the story, not having made up an opinion on it.

Other Tidbits:

I get that Min is doing a lot of keep Rand human and connected to the human race, but should she really be on the front lines of what turned out to be a nasty fight? While I respect her knife skills, that’s all she’s got going for her in a fight and this one had one of the biggest, nastiest Forsaken of them all.

Why didn’t Faile & crew pack water for their escape? Why didn’t they have a bit of water to drink before they became trapped? Of course, we couldn’t have Megden drinking the forkroot, but it nagged at me a little.

Didn’t anyone else shed a little tear for the lost Rolan?

Knife of Dreams, Part III

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

This week, Liesel at Musings on Fantasia, cool non-spoilery fan art, is your host. And you can probably find Eivind (walking WoT encyclopedia) over there in the comments. And hop on over to Sue’s Coffee, Cookies, & Chili Peppers for some great deductive reasoning skills in calculating how things will fall out with the plot.

For the third week in a row, I am a bit late posting. But this time I have a SUPER GREAT reason (as opposed to the flood and the sinus infection of the previous 2 weeks) – I was at Bubonicon 46! Hooray!

This week, we covered Chapters 8-12. Spoilers run rampant for this section and all previous books below!

1) We finally get more details on Aludra’s plans with the elusive bell founders and all. Do you see this plan succeeding? What will it mean for the Last Battle? How will it play out?

Back when we first heard about Aludra’s plans (2 books back?), I thought her super secret weapon (which I expect will turn out to be canons) were to be used against the Seanchan. But here we are, on the road with the circus, and we still don’t have canon. Much to my dismay, we haven’t fired them yet. I do enjoy my weapons.

So it is becoming clearer that Aludra is simply doing this for the shear joy of it. I think she and I could be friends. Good friends. Friends who enjoy the firing range for hours at a time and then go sit around the campfire afterward drinking and talking about the firing range.

But to answer the question, because that is why we are all here, yes, I do expect Aludra’s plan to work and for us to have canons for the Last Battle. And I expect this will give the Last Battle a slightly steampunk feel to it, which Brandon Sanderson will write beautifully and it won’t freak out any of the genre purists.

2) Mistress Anan finally reveals some of her past. Were you surprised by anything she said?

I think I stopped being surprised by things in WoT when Moiraine took Lanfear into the angreal doorway. If Jordan can do that to 2 of his most important characters, then he can do anything (and most of the time make it believable and entertaining). As with so many of the characters in this series, Mistress Anan has a past. This is one of those things Jordan does very well – even his minor characters have a past. Even if Jordan never pulls on the past for a particular character, he has done it for any number of other minor characters. So here we are, Book 11, and I have to assume that any character that walks onto the stage does have a past and that it may be crucial to some plot point later. Basically, Jordan made it so i can’t dismiss any of the characters as mere window dressing.

That ramble said, I would like to know what more Anan knows about angreal and the fox/elfish people that Mat ran into. I was thinking that Anan was a senior Kin woman, but can’t recall if she was ever explicitly called so. She knows plenty about Aes Sedai, weaves, the power, and angreal.

3) We saw tons of Mat and Tuon this week. From her snapping a’dam onto Aes Sedai necks to finding out she might have had her siblings assassinated to seeing Suroth’s plan to declare her an impostor and have her killed in action to participating in a knife fight for/with her, Mat had his hands full. Feel free to comment on any part of this story line. What stood out to you, shocked you, delighted you? Where do you think it will go from here? What repercussions will it have?

The a’dam seen with the Aes Sedai made me uncomfortable. First, the Aes Sedai were being high-handed and annoying, but that is all their training will allow them to do in a case like this. Tuon was also being high-handed and annoying by ignoring them, and ignoring the bigger picture of the war, etc. Yet her training as an upcoming imperial ruler wouldn’t let her do anything else.

So when she had her servants snap a’dam on the Aes Sedai, part of me was highly amused – the Aes Sedai who felt they were in the moral right and also felt superior due to their powers all of a sudden found that they had no powers and the ‘moral right’ didn’t matter without the power to back it up. It was nice to see some of the wind knocked out of their sails. And this made me uncomfortable because it came at the cost of slavery.

So now that we have seen this loss of power with the Aes Sedai, and hence they have to approach the problem with a team effort and wits instead of force, I totally expect Jordan to do the same thing to Tuon at some point. How do we ever get the Seanchan to recognize Channelers as full humans? Well, we start with their ruler(s), such as Tuon. And to have Tuon change her core mind on this, there will have to be something drastic – like she will need to be completely helpless without the assistance of Channelers – or better yet, she will have to call down lightning, etc. And if she can Channel, and she is the next Seanchan Imperial ruler, we obviously can’t collar her.

Plus, I expect Mat to point out her inequity at some point in a harsh but loving way and Tuon will have to see how her slavery ideas may loose her the greatest lay she will ever have.

4) A Shiota ghost town makes a rather disturbing appearance in Mat’s life. What do you think was the cause of it, and what does it mean for our characters?

I think this is another one of those Bubbles of Evil things – but with ghosts. And while Mat didn’t have ready arrows to shoot the man and his horses (giving them a quick, easy death), I wonder why no one else in the caravan took car of business. Someone surely had bow & arrows, javelins, stones and sling? These are armed, talented folk. I think it would have been very hard to listen to the horses screaming like that for all those long minutes while they died.

For our main characters, I don’t think it means too much as it is unlikely that any of them will get trapped in a bubble like this and die. It might be that one could wander into a bubble like this and take a while to figure out what was happening and get a good scare out of it before escaping. But I fully expect that they would escape.

5) Apparently Mat, Thom, and Noal might be setting out to rescue Moiraine. Were you surprised by this, or by what was finally revealed to be in her letter to Thom? Do you think they can succeed?

I think I am most intrigued by the ‘Dearest Thom’ part. Dearest? Hmmm…..Past sexytimes?

We have known for a book or 2 now that Lanfear wasn’t dead, so it was quite easy to suspect that Moiraine was not dead either. And I was pleasantly surprised to learn that those fox/elfish people are holding her because they are super intriguing and of course I want some of our heroes to go to their house and raise a ruckus.

Jordan has wrapped these people in dangers and unknowns, so a lot can happen. Truth to tell, I do worry about everyone except Mat and Moiraine. We need those two to come out of this in order to move the plot forward. Thom or Noal could die or be trapped there, which would be tragic and sad, but the plot could still move forward. I suspect that Noal still has some critical part to play in the plot – but I can’t say if that is in freeing Moiraine, or in the Last Battle. So perhaps Thom will have to be the one to fall in this quest.

6) Someone tried to assassinate Perrin. Who do you think it was and why? What do you think of how things are going with his alliance with the Seanchan? Will their forkroot plan work?

Did Moiridin order his underlings to take out Mat and Perrin? And since a lot of folks know where Perrin is, he is the logical first target. I think Moiridin is behind this as he could instill the right amount of fear to have failures poison themselves.

So far, I think Perrin is doing fairly well with the Seanchan. He is straight forward, which they can appreciate, and they are starting to trust him a little bit; this shows in that they fill him in on his social faux pas.

Yes, I expect the forkroot plan to work and for Faile and Perrin to be reunited. Initially, there will be lots of sparks, hugs, kisses, and sexytimes. But then Faile will here the naughty rumors about Perrin and Berelain and she will go back to the jealous dunce we all know and bemoan.

Other Tidbits:

Which Aes Sedai was tossing dirt clods and crap at Mat, via the power? Naughty, naughty!

Nolan was so ready to take on Tuon and her servants when the Aes Sedai were collared. Very, very interesting!

I love the Seanchan hairstyles – and how they freak out the Randlanders (just a little).

Knife of Dreams, Part II

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

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

For the second week in a row, I am a bit late posting. This week, I blame a sinus infection that has me in a frustrating amount of pain. the headache is killer!

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

1) Beonin, Ashmanaille, & Phaedrine chat about theories on who the channeling male murderer is. Did you enjoy Beonin’s logic? Do you think other Aes Sedai are drawing the same conclusions? Will such assumptions and conclusions hinder Rand’s plans in preparing for the Last Battle?

The Aes Sedai seem pretty bent on laying these murders at Rand’s feet. In the end, I fear this will allow Halima to go undetected for a great length of time and allow him/her to wreak some major havoc later on.

And why do none of these Aes Sedai think outside the box? Has the traditional White Tower ruined the collective thinking power of a whole generation of Aes Sedai?

And of course, I do fear that these assumptions will come to hinder Rand’s plans, like he needs any more hindering with the constant war her has going on inside himself.

2) Elaida had thought to show the world her power by snatching a monarch in the night and she plans to show even greater power by putting that monarch back on his royal seat. Do you think Mattin Stepaneos, king of Illian, will be cooperative? What other setbacks to Elaida’s plan can you predict?

I expect Mattin to be cooperative to a point – like that point in which he once again sits a throne. Then I expect he will throw it back in Elaida’s teeth and the White Tower will take another hit in reputation. Egwene is going to have tons of community outreach to do once she takes over.

And of course I expect many other rulers will no longer welcome Aes Sedai to their throne rooms after this, expecting (or fearing) such blatant betrayal of all common courtesy. People won’t cower before Elaida; instead, they will be hiring hitmen to take her out.

3) Once again the Forsaken get together for a tickle and tell dinner party. We saw some new technology on display. Do you think we will see further advanced tech and in more prominent use as the series continues? Do you think Moiridin can keep them all in line?

For several books now, there have been hints and some small demonstrations of advanced tech. However, I expect Jordan will keep that low key for the entire series, as this is primarily a fantasy series, not scifi/fantasy. While genre boundaries don’t matter as much these days (thank goodness), they were in full use when this series started. Hence, due to fan base expectations, I doubt the publisher would be OK with a storyline veering away from the core fantasy genre.

Some of the Forsaken are already plotting to kill Moiridin. The Forsaken have not struck me as particularly bright, but I think that can also be said of Moiridin (who is brutal and a bit crazy). So I doubt he will be able to get them all to do everything he requires of them and he may even be taken out by the Forsaken.

4) Perrin meets with the Seanchan. Were you impressed with his display of martial capability? What about that sulfur stench? Even if this plan goes off without a hitch, do you see continued friendly relationships between Perrin’s forces and the Seanchan?

I loved Perrin’s simple yet elegant display of martial capability. Obviously, the Seanchan came to a swift appreciation for the Two Rivers longbow.

What is up with the Hell Hounds (the source of the sulfur stench)? They seem to be keeping tabs on Perrin, or someone in his group. Like scouts seeking out the target and then reporting back. Of course this has me concerned as no one enjoys tangling with a Hell Hound, let alone a pack of them.

Yes, I expect the Seanchan will continue friendly negotiations with Perrin after Faile is safely back home. For one thing, Perrin is a straight shooter and the Seanchan will learn quickly that they can deal with him openly and honestly. Second, it shoulnd’t be long before the Seanchan in Randland start hearing about the calamity that has struck their homeland; they will need allies.

5) Faile has a lot of decisions to make, and soon. She is determined to escape before Perrin can attempt a rescue; she has the Oath Rod; Galina appears near breaking; and Rolan is still putting flowers in her hair. Will her actions muck up Perrin’s rescue? Will Galina’s duplicity be undone? Will Rolan get even one romantic night, one which will never be spoken of again?

Oh es! I totally expect Faile to muck up Perrin’s plans, potentially getting people injured or killed. I can’t blame her for wanting to escape, but her unhealthy attitude of showing up Perrin is juvenile.

Uh….perhaps I have mentioned before how ridiculous I find Faile’s character?

I am SO looking forward to Galina’s duplicity being caught. But knowing the Aes Sedai, she could very well sneak off in all the mayhem and she won’t have to pay for her actions.

You know, I would be OK with Rolan being granted one night of Faile sexytimes. I think this would mellow Faile considerably towards the women who pursue Perrin. At least, she wouldn’t be able to give Perrin any more shit. Not justly, anyways. Perrin seems to be the kind of guy who would take it for a lifetime.

6) Mat has bought a new horse, razor breed, and given Tuon a pet name (Precious) to counter her little pet name for him (Toy). And then we learn that Noal is related to Jain Farstrider! Guesses as to why Noal has such strong feelings on the adventures of his cousin?

I am guessing that Noal may be Jain Farstrider and decided to dissemble a bit by saying he was his cousin. Noal sure did speak vehemently about Jain going of on adventure and leaving his wife to die alone. Sounds like Noal has major regrets. I can see him being a good guiding force in Mat’s life, if Mat can stop thinking of him as an old harmless idiot.

7) Mat’s little ter’angreal secret is out and the Aes Sedai traveling with the circus are VERY curious. Do you think this will cause a problem later? Bethamin, a former sul’dam, channeled some powerful weave, to her great distress. Could she turn out to be a powerful Aes Sedai in the future?

Once again, I expect the Aes Sedai to pester or outright ‘borrow’ Mat’s ter’angreal for study. And of course, in the very long run, I expect some baddie to eventually hear of this extra protection Mat has and instead of channeling like a good channeler, just go for the throat (which, unfortunately, may actually work).

Yes, I think some of the sul’dam wil prove to be as powerful as the top ranking Aes Sedai, much to the Aes Sedais’ distress. 😉

Other Tidbits:

Beonin spilled all to Elaida! This is a problem. A big one. I feel sorry for Beonin’s Warder who was left in the dark about this one.

Some of the Shaido gai’shain have sought protection in the beds of their captors. I believe there was one brief mention of a woman gai’shain seeking out her female captor’s bed. I truly appreciate the diversity Jordan built in to this series, in so many ways.

Knife of Dreams, Part I

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Crossroads of Twilight, Part VIII

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This week, your host is Eivind and he can be found in the comments.Make sure to check out Sue and her often insightful answers over at Coffee, Cookies, and Chili Peppers. And catch Liesel at Musings on Fantasia who has the cool fanart.

This week, we cover Chapters 27-END. Spoilers for this section run free below!

1. After letting himself go with the Shaido prisoners, Perrin abandons his axe in the forest, as predicted by Elyas. What do you think of his way of breaking the Aiel? Is this a defining moment for him, and in what ways?

I thought Perrin did really well. It was quicker and more humane than letting the previous methods of torture continue. I think it was the concept of being so crippled and left in a city to beg that broke the Aiel resolve. Also, I believe it showed others (like Masema) that Perrin is insightful, decisive, and quite capable to taking care of business.

Unfortunately, I do think this is a defining moment for Perrin and he has defined it all negative. As much as I really enjoy Perrin, he can be an idiot and he will be an idiot over this one. I can see him moping over his decision to remove a hand in order to gain info, beating himself up over it for the rest of the series (all 4000 pages or so).

And, really, who leaves weapons lying around in the woods during times like this? I hope Aram or Elyas fetched it back for him, just keeping it tucked away until in the heat of battle, Perrin swears up a blue streak for having left his axe behind.

2. Tallanvor suggests to team up with Seanchan to defeat the Shaido. Should Perrin agree? Will he just end up having to rescue people from the Seanchan instead?

As far as we know, the Seanchan only enslave female channelers. So if he sends those ladies off, or keeps them in hiding, teaming up with the Seanchan may work. However, if the Wise Ones refuse to be sidelined, and the Seanchan are arrogant pricks (and we all know they will be) then I expect inviting them to the party will only increase Perrin’s headaches as the Seanchan make a point of enslaving the Wise Ones, and the Aiel retaliating by removing some Seanchan heads. It would be immensely entertaining for me, but I would feel sorry for Perrin (eventually).

3. From the female or male viewpoint, what do you make of Mat’s courtship strategy, and Tuon’s response? Bewildered? (I am!)

Quite frankly, I was very surprised that Mat was so able to change his tactics. After all, most other women have fallen for the jewelry lure.

But, yeah, I am still a bit confused. We know so little about Seanchan customs, let along how they go about courtship and marriage back home. I am guessing that Tuon had to be the first to make a move (since she is of the highest royalty). So direct gifts were an insult. But that final little gift of cloth rose buds, simply set beside the game board, well that left all the decisions in Tuon’s hands. She could have tossed them or given them away. But later she deigns to wear them. I am hoping this is a good sign. I think. Can I root for the Seanchan in this instance?

4. Renna betrays our heroes and Mat is presumably forced to leave the circus. Were you surprised? How happy are you to be rid of Valan Luca?

Mat was going to have to leave the circus sooner or later – I mean he has this part to play in saving the world, right? But I was not expecting Renna to stab Egeanin in the back. I didn’t fully understand what she thought she was gaining by that either. I guess her dedication to the Seanchan way was stronger than her obedience to Egeanin or Tuon (if she realized fully who Tuon is).

And since Mat wasn’t putting on a sparkly, thigh revealing suit and doing a high wire act, I am OK with Mat & crew leaving Valan Luca behind.

5. Egwene’s plan is revealed, and the harbor chains of Tar Valon are now cuendillar. How will this change the siege?

The plan was revealed? Hmm…..Well, OK, I thought we had a small smidgeon revealed. I expect the chains being cuendillar will allow Egwene (or some other Sister) to seal the harbor. Egwene wanted to prevent the boats from going in and out, because they allowed movement of the people inside the tower and restocking of goods. So by blocking the Tower harbor off, there would have to be some sort of attack from the Tower or some sort of surrender from the Tower. Anyway, that is what I was thinking. Did I miss something?

6. Egwene is captured! Should she have sent Bode after all? Is she stupid for having risked herself? Never mind the harbor chains… how will THIS change the war?

Well, yes, Egwene was stupid for having risked herself. But this falls back to that fond phrase, ‘The Wheel weaves as the Wheel wills’. So Egwene had to be on that boat one way or another.

How does this change the siege? Well, it depends on who captured her. If it is Sisters completely disgruntled with Elaida, then Egwene should be fine because they will want to undermine Elaida. If it is Darkfriends or Black Ajah, then Egwene may be in some danger from them directly, but not from Elaida (as the Dark wants to undermine Elaida). If they are Elaida supporters, then Egwene will have to worry about being stilled and possibly executed.

Then Egwene also has to worry about her detractors in her own camp. I expect they will try to wrest control for themselves no matter Egwene’s status inside the harbor. So Egwene will have to work quickly and come out smelling like a rose to remain Amyrlin.

7. Rand will meet the Daughter of the Nine Moons, but we know she’s nowhere to be found (by Suroth, anyway). An obvious trap or just a really obvious trap? What do you expect to happen?

As the reader, I know that Suroth is a Darkfriend and that Tuon has gone missing, so this is such an obvious trap to me. But Rand doesn’t know those two things. I am hoping that the colorful mind-to-mind phone among our ta’veren will start working soon and Mat can tell Rand about Tuon.

But until then, I expect Rand to agree to meet with Suroth and the Daughter of Nine Moons. If that meeting goes down, I expect Rand to escape immediately with minimal blood shed. After all, he can Travel. Unless they have a convenient leash for male channelers. In which case, i expect Rand to be the first ever to break one with his belligerent personality.

While I personally want to see Tuon kill Suroth, I expect that Suroth will be kiled by one of our ta’veren or by the Dark side for incompetence.

Other Tidbits

Mat still doesn’t see his own influence on Olver when it comes to the ladies. This is amusing and distressing at the same time.

Mat pushed their mounts in order to catch Renna, and then pushed himself to order her killed. And yet he returns to Tuon to see that she signed a bit of paper than made the circus and Mat & crew untouchable no matter what Renna told the Seanchan outpost. He had trouble with that……and yet I still want to give him a wake up call. Having a vagina and boobs doesn’t protect you from being killed in war, especially when you stab someone in the back and run off towards the nearest enemy outpost.

Remanda (or is it Remilda? Anyway, the high & mighty snot whose name starts with an R) didn’t take the news about the Oathrod and longevity very well. I thought Egwene had a strong argument – it would keep the Kin tied to the Tower but also give the Sisters a reasonable retirement option.

Crossroads of Twilight, Part VII

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And the WoT Quad returns with Book 10, Crossroads of Twilight! If any of you silent stalkers want to join us, you are always welcome to. You can leave me a comment or email me (nrlymrtl [at] gmail [dot] com) to get on the weekly email of the discussion questions. Check out the schedule.

This week, your host is Sue and her often insightful answers over at Coffee, Cookies, and Chili Peppers. Make sure to catch Liesel at Musings on Fantasia who has the cool fanart.  Eivind, our keeper of esoteric WoT knowledge, can be found in the comments over at Sue’s.

This week, we cover Chapters 21-26. Spoilers for this section run free below!

1. I am sure that we are all so sorry for Alviarin, now that she is about to be outed as Black Ajah by Elaida and has seen Mesaana reduced to a terrified wreck by Shaidar Haran . . . or perhaps not! Do you think that Elaida actually has any evidence to use against Alviarin, or is it all bluff and self-delusion from the Amyrlin we love to hate? Has Alviarin got any hope of uncovering the Black Hunters, even with her newly minted ‘Mark’?

I think Elaida is all bark and no bite concerning Alviarin at this point. Sure, lots of Aes Sedai are tired of Alviarin being all high and snooty, but no one can toss her in chains (or they would have done so by now).

I thin Alviarin is desperate and will try exceedingly hard to locate the Hunters. And unfortunately, the Hunters haven’t been as subtle as they could have been. I mean, Alviarin could just bitch slap Elaida a few times with the Power and get an answer from her about who brought her the info on the Black Ajah. From there, Alviarin can hunt down the Hunters.

2. Last week we were thinking about what the Reds might do now that male channelers will not go mad, and now we have some actively talking about Bonding Asha’men! Do you think Elaida would have a fit strong enough to bring on a stroke if this idea was suggested to her? Or will we need to wait until she hears the news from Toviene?

Personally, I think most of the Reds would be a bit more relaxed if they indulged in some male company….nude. But that’s just my personal opinion.

And yes, Elaida doesn’t want to share power and bonding Asha’men as Warders would be a type of sharing. As we have seen, even when the bond is forced, the bond does work both ways for several things, like the sharing of feelings.

While I think this would be a good way to chill the Reds out, I doubt the Asha’men will see it that way. So far we have seen the bond work one way or the other. I would be very interested to see if it can be a mutual bond, so that one is not dominant over the other.

3. Life seems to be throwing a lot of surprises at Cadsuane at the moment. What do you make of her distrust of Verin, an Aes Sedai who seems to have been a whole-hearted supporter from the very beginning? Were you surprised that she almost lost her cool when she discovered that the Asha’men had Bonded some Sisters?

I think that anyone who hangs out with Rand for a length of time starts loosing their cool more easily. Cadsuane is just another example of the exasperated female.

I think Verin hunts knowledge. So far Rand and all the events and people around him are fascinating enough to her that she has sided with him. But as soon as it becomes more interesting to go against Rand or even side with Black Ajah, etc. I think Verin would very well be tempted. Hence, I believe Cadsuane’s distrust to be a good thing.

Cadsuane started off cool (slapping Rand when he needed it) and stayed cool…until this little section. I don’t know why I keep being surprised by Aes Sedai being all high and mighty. Of course Asha’men will be bonding their version of Warders. Silly Aes Sedai!

4. Loial has returned, but with mixed news. Were you surprised that not all the steddings were willing to listen to his advice? What do you think will be discussed at the Great Stump and will Loial’s mother be there to force him into marriage?

No, I was not surprised that the Steddings were not all in total agreement. That would be too much to ask for. And I have to wonder if there are Dark Friend Ogier in some of the Steddings mucking things up. We have seen Dark Friends every where else, so why not among the Ogier?

I think Loial may be very surprised when Erith agrees to travel around with him. 🙂

5. Logain has finally decided to warn Rand about Taim. Do you think that Taim’s influence has gone too far, or can Rand save the Black Tower from becoming a center of Darkfriend recruitment? Also, were you surprised that Rand had decided to seek a compromise with the Seanchan?

Yes, I think Taim’s influence has gone too far. Even though Rand has been butting heads with the man, even though there have been these reports from others about the heads on spikes, Rand has not done anything. So even if he believes Logain 100% and jumps on the Black Tower tomorrow, it is going to be very, very difficult to bring it into line. Should be a lot of drama and violence to entertain the readers.

No, I was not surprised that Rand wants a peace with the Seanchan. He was pretty shaken by that ‘loss’ that he incurred and he has all this other shit on his plate. Also, we have enough examples now of the Seanchan restoring order and trade once they have taken a city/country, that Rand now knows they won’t destroy Randland.

6. Elza is revealed as Black Ajah. Were you surprised and who do you think she will send her evil Warder to kill?

OK, I didn’t really remember this character from before though she has probably made a previous appearance. At this point, I am not really surprised when I little known side character turns out to be evil. And I don’t know who her Warder will be sent to kill. There are plenty of choices and knowing Jordan’s plot devices, we could end up with a body and never be told who did it.

7. So Harbor: I have to admit that I was expecting trouble because Masema sent Perrin to the town, which seemed unusually helpful of him. Please discuss how freaky and spooky the place is: what stood out to you as the most chilling aspect? Do you think that the Seanchan have had a good look at it and decided to stay away?

This town is messed up. I get that there are dead walking, or at least the highly visible spirits of the dead haunting the place. Then we have the whole populace spooked and occasionally, accidentally, killing each other. But why are they not washing? That is the part that is bothering me a great deal. I mean clean running water has long been associated with keeping evil spirits at bay. So why not wash regularly? Why not keep clean dishes, etc.? I think there may be more to this mystery than we have been told so far.

Other Tidbits

Did I understand that correctly? Did THE Dark One use Shaidar Haran’s body to Mark Alviarin and terrorize her at the same time? Those seals must be getting pretty weak!

Cadsuane doesn’t know what all her angreal do! I really want her to test them, in a public place, with Loial available to write down the details for posterity.

Crossroads of Twilight, Part VI

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And the WoT Quad returns with Book 10, Crossroads of Twilight! If any of you silent stalkers want to join us, you are always welcome to. You can leave me a comment or email me (nrlymrtl [at] gmail [dot] com) to get on the weekly email of the discussion questions. Check out the schedule.

Sorry for posting late this week. The pain of my donkey-squished foot has been sapping my energy, and I have been doing plenty of weekend activities. Plus farm life. Anyway, I hope to be better this week.

This week, your host is Liesel at Musings on Fantasia who has the cool fanart.  Eivind, our keeper of esoteric WoT knowledge, can be found in the comments over at Liesel’s .Make sure to catch Sue and her often insightful answers over at Coffee, Cookies, and Chili Peppers.

This week, we cover Chapters 17-20. Spoilers for this section run free below!

1) Nicola and Areina are still around causing trouble. Do you think they’ll stay around? Reveal Egwene’s secrets? Get sent home?

Perhaps one or the other will end up dead and Egwene will save the other from certain doom? Then she would have a fateful follower forever, and quite frankly, she could use a few of those. But most likely these two idiots will keep pushing the boundaries of Egwene’s benevolence and eventually one or both will be sent on long rambling necessary but yet not important missions. Or Egwene will wrap their heads in flows of power and suffocate them.

2) What do you think Egwene is planning with the newly-rediscovered method of making Cuendillar?

I have to say I was VERY surprised by this turn of events. I think Egwene is planning to have new seals and/or weapons (or shields) made of the stuff. But first, folks must practice and get good at it. Hence, all the trinkets. But she is wise to have so many, even the trainees, practicing. If she is going to have them make weapons or shields later on, the more who know how to do it, the more that will survive.

3) Siuan has discovered a strange trend of sisters too young to be Sitters being made Sitters. What do you think it means? Who or what is behind it?

Well, we know that some of the Aes Sedai voted Egwene in as Amyrlin because they thought she was young and malleable. Perhaps the same idiots are hopeful that young Sitters will be the same way and will give them more control.

4) There is talk in Egwene’s camp of taking the Red Ajah out of her stole entirely. Given that the Red’s main purpose had to do with controlling men who can channel, and now things have changed, both because of Rand and because saidin has been cleansed, do you think the Red Ajah has become obsolete? Will they disappear completely?

I think there will always be a small and precautionary need for Red Ajah. Say, after Rand saves the world, and we have Asha’men and Aes Sedai working together and having kids together, there could always be some male channeler that goes rogue and wants to rule the world (imagine Masema channeling!). So the Red Ajah would have the knowledge and skill to at least bring the rogue under control. The other side of the coin is that the Black Tower will eventually have their own form of Ajahs and they will have an Ajah with the skill to bring rogue Aes Sedai under control.

5) Egwene’s Hall is arguing about a possible agreement with the Black Tower. It’s based on bad information (or just a lack of info, I suppose) but it sounds like it might happen. Do you think this is a good or bad thing? What will it lead to? What form will it take?

I think it is a good thing because I as a reader have all this other knowledge. I know that Logain is planning something, probably involving going head to head with Taim. We need that jerk out of there and probably without a head. I also know that Asha’men and Aes Sedai have started working together here and there and the Aes Sedai haven’t fainted dead away or turned into geese from the experience. And I also know that Rand has cleansed saidar, which takes a lot of the wind out of the sails for those arguing against it.

But of course, our rogue White Tower doesn’t know all this. So, they will make a bungle out of it and I expect the Black Tower will come out on top of any deal.

Eventually there will be mating between Asha’men and Aes Sedai and then we will have all these geeky, socially inept channelers running around.

6) Egwene dreams both of a Seanchan woman who will save her, and of the Seanchan attacking the Tower. What do you think these dreams mean?

I think Egwene is going to have a very, very hard time accepting help from the Seanchan. But eventually, she will, and together they will take out the White Tower. Perhaps Mat and Tuon will work out their thing and then Tuon will order Seanchan assistance to Egwene.

7) Who do you think killed Anaiya and her warder, and why? What was she doing on the outskirts of the camp in the middle of the night?

I think Halima the Evil lured Anaiya out there and then killed them. I am just not sure why yet. Perhaps Anaiya is working against Egwene (like for an opposing Sitter) and hoped to get some juicy intel from Halima.

Other Tidbits

I think the rainbow stole looks better with a bit of red in it. It’s not a true rainbow without red, so the Browns would argue that a rainbow stole without red would need a new name. That would spark a very tedious discussion.

During this section, Egwene commented on Elayne’s pregnancy outside of marriage, how things were different from the Two Rivers, and then on Halima’s light skirts. I found it interesting that in passing (mostly just Egwene’s thoughts), Jordan covered this range of what is socially acceptable for a woman, or not, depending on circumstances and culture.