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 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.

Crossroads of Twilight, Part IV

JordanCrossroadsOfTwilightBanner

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, our host is Sue over at Coffee, Cookies, and Chili Peppers. Eivind, our keeper of esoteric WoT knowledge, can be found in the comments over at Sue’s. Make sure to swing by Liesel’s at Musings on Fantasia for cool fanart.

This week, we cover Chapters 9-12. Spoilers for this section run free below!

1. Well, I suppose that we now know that Faile is alive and well, more or less. Do you think that Nadric will avoid her from now on, or will he simply wait until she is more alone? What do you think is going on between Galina and Therava?

I think Faile will keep a better eye out for single men around the camp now, since she knows now that her status does not protect her from harm. And I also doubt that Faile is the first captive to be treated this way. So, yes, I expect Nadric or another to have similar ideas about Faile (or the other women she was captured with).

I really want Galina hurt, or stilled, or banished to the Seanchan homelands. She is double crossing Faile and crew and messing up their plans for escape, and getting them hurt.

As for Therava, well, I think she wants to undermine Sevanna, perhaps even take over. And I also still think Therava makes a better predatory bird than Berelain. Surely there is some discussion board somewhere that thinks the two predatory birds perched on Perrin’s shoulders are Faile and Therava?

2. Still with Faile, what do you think of her growing relationship with Rolan? Do you think that he might even help her to escape, or is that simply wishful thinking on her part?

I think the term ‘awkward’ covers much of this growing relationship. After all, he forcibly stripped her naked, made her march through snow, then carried her slung over his shoulder occasionally slapping her bum, later rescues her from Nadric, and now….is massaging the cramps out of her bound, naked muscles. Hmmm….I think Robert Jordan is once again playing out some sexual fantasy using these characters and elaborate setting that he created. Not that I mind so much, except that so much of his books are PG rated, so it always stands out to me.

I am not sure if Rolan wants to be free of Sevanna and sees a potential path with Faile, or if he simply wants sexy times. If Rolan does escape with Faile, it could make for a very interesting conversation with Perrin down the road.

3. Poor Elsie sees a ghost, but Elayne dismisses it as nerves. We do not seem to have had much supernatural activity in this series, so this seemed very significant to me. Was the ghost real or do you think that there might be some other explanation? Feel free to say if you think I am simply being overly suspicious! 😀

This incident stood out to me too. I think it was a Grey Man, or some Aes Sedai that has learned how to cloak herself in invisibility. Either way, I think Elayne should be more suspicious all around (see Q.4).

4. I am getting rather tired of Mellar and his evil smugness, but I am a little concerned about Elayne’s decision to berate him in public. Does this mean that she realizes that his moment of heroism was completely staged? Do you think that he might try to retaliate for the embarrassment?

I don’t think Elayne has even considered that Mellar’s heroism during the assassination attack was staged. Again, I think she (or Aviendha or Brigitte) needs to be way more suspicious of the people around her. Mellar is giving everyone the bad vibes, except for that one Aes Sedai who was singing his praises…what was her name? She and two others are on the list of possible suspects for killing Vandene’s sister.

And, yes, eventually Mellar will retaliate for the embarrassment. Of course he might save it all up for his final move (assassination or kidnapping) and be real nasty about it.

5. We have lots of coming and goings in Caemlyn. Do you think that the Aes Sedai at the Silver Swan are Elaida’s, independents or parts of Cadsuane’s group? What about the group that Mellar ‘helped’ to get into the city: are they trustworthy at all?

Let’s see. They are Aes Sedai, so no matter who they ‘promised’ to serve, they have their own agenda. Elayne thinks they are watched closely, but yet we haven’t heard about their agendas. And if Mellar helped a few in, then I would watch out for Black Ajah or Forsaken.

6. What is it with the Seafolk and square miles of land? I thought that Rand had granted them that as part of his agreement with them, but maybe Zaida does not know about that yet. Do you have any ideas about why this land is so important to a sea-faring people?

Perhaps this land is in addition to what Rand had already grated. And perhaps it has something to do with the location? I think the Sea Folk want several basses of operation throughout Randland – safe harbors, places to conduct business, trade, etc. Have we learned where the Sea Folk come from? Do they have a set of islands they call home or are they strictly ship and sea? If they don’t already have a homeland, then perhaps this is why the land gained during the bargains is so important.

Other Tidbits

I liked that part where Faile admits to herself that her only weapon is her wits. Oh boy! She is definitely not armed for this situation!

the whole point of babying Elayne (no wine, early to bed, goat’s milk) is to keep her well rested and healthy. It seems snide of Brigitte to be getting drunk every night and being hung over every morning. I know she is sad, but she has a job to do and being drunk every night can’t help with that.

 

Winter's Heart Read Along Part II

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

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

This week we covered Chapters 3-7. Spoilers are having a party below!

1) What did everyone make of the Shaido’s treatment of Faile, Maighdin, Alliandre, Bain, Chiad, Lacile, and Arrela during the march through the snow? Harsh? As expected?

At first, this made sense. It is much, much harder for captives to get all uppity and host ideas of escaping if they are trussed up naked and forced to march through the snow. But then things got a little weird. We had Faile being carried over Rolan’s shoulder and repeatedly slapped on the ass – and her deepest thoughts liking it because it kept her awake (nudge, nudge, wink, wink). We had two of the ladies thrown naked into the snow and switched, leaving red stripes on creamy white buttocks. Uh…..yeah. Totally the wet dream of 13-30 year old males. If we had a few males captives that received the same treatment, I could have lent this scene more credence. As it stands, I think it was written to appeal to a certain segment of the fans.

Why don’t we take a moment and picture some of the guys naked, trussed, and marching through the snow. They have learned to ignore their nudity and are just focused on surviving. But now they are faltering. Do the Shaido sling them over their shoulders and carry them the rest of the way? Do the men balk at it? Do they scream and contort as they get switched? Do they learn to like the slaps on the ass because it helps keep them awake?  Hmm…..Well, I know who I pictured for this scene. Who did you picture? 😉

2) Faile and crew meet the Shaido Wise Ones (Therava & Someryn) and also the Aes Sedai Galina. What do you think of the Wise Ones speaking so openly of Sevanna’s orders? Will Galina be of any help to Faile?

I was a bit surprised that the Wise Ones were so openly disparaging Sevanna’s plans to take so many captives. I wonder if this is a reflection of the huge level of dissent among the troops, or is it a reflection of Aiel culture – meaning that the Aiel don’t expect gaishan to make anything of their comments, good or bad, about the leadership. It’s build into the Aiel culture that the gaishan are completely subservient, so they might feel 100% comfortable discussing nearly anything around them.

Or they might be ready to gut Sevanna themselves.

If Galina does help Faile and crew, I expect it will come at a high price. I do have to say I am a little concerned that Faile and crew will botch any escape attempt and have to pay a steep price for it. Galina knows this and I don’t think she will lightly risk her hide to help Faile (even if Galina stayed behind).

3) It seems that Berelain is taking advantage of Faile’s absence and Perrin’s fatigue. Where do you think her flirtations will take her? Given the chance, what would you do with her at this point?

In general, I don’t agree with hitting people in the face (unless it is a bit of slap to bring them out of some hysteria or to keep them from sticking a knife in someone you care about), but I may just make an exception in Berelain’s case. And I think Perrin should be the first allowed to smack her.

As to what it will get her? I am not sure what she is playing for. Is it simple lust? Does she think that Perrin has lands and armies to offer Berelain and her country? She would have a stronger alliance in Faile if only she could make friends with her, but I can’t see that happening after this last bout of stupidity. Perrin isn’t going to want to bed her, even if she manages to break him and Faile apart.

Perhaps the Aes Sedai could lend her a smooth white rod? 😉

4) They are on the hunt! Talanvor left on his own to pursue the Shaido hours ahead of Perrin and crew. Perrin had to chastise the Cha Faile for their spying activities. The Asha’men want to lead the charge. Add to that, Masema offering to assist. Will Perrin’s anger explode? How can this hunt possibly be derailed?

So many possibilities! For entertainment’s sake, let’s say Talanvor finds the Shaido first, but decides to try to rescue the ladies all on his own instead of heading back and getting reinforcements. So he ends up captured and forced to walk naked in the snow, trussed in his own pants. Maybe he will even get switched or carried like a sack of grain. We can only hope, as we have heard how handsome he is.

I expect the Cha Faile will totally forget they promised to follow Perrin’s orders as soon as they catch sight of the Shaido. They are not thoroughly trained as warriors, not like the Aiel, and I expect plenty of blundering into the Shaido, ending in them being captured too. Meanwhile, the Asha’men are teleporting all over the area scouting for the Shaido. They may have some success and it would be interesting if one or two of them actually teleported directly into the Shaido camp. They may even kill a few Shaido before teleporting out or being killed. This should stir the pot.

Then we got Masema and crew who are fanatical idiots. I am sure they will find some reason to hate the Shaido and therefore, want to eradicate them from the face of Randland (for the good of the Dragon Reborn, may the light illumine his name for all eternity!). At this point, I think Perrin should lead a group of his Aiel into the fray and quietly and quickly collect all the people they want left alive and remove them to some hilltop to watch the fracas.

5) The men escorting Naean and Elenia were ambushed and killed outside Caemlyn. What do you think this portends? Will Elayne be able to unite the houses behind her or is this move the first of several by houses against her? Should the ladies be more concerned about defenses instead of clothing?

It didn’t sound like Naean and Elenia were killed, so I am guessing they were either freed and helped away or captured for whatever info they can give on Elayne and the current state of Caemlyn. Is Elenia one of those ladies who came on to Rand and then had to explain to him how she is not related (at least not even closely) to Elayne?

Anyway, sounds like someone wanted these two free of Elayne – and probably so that they can go against Elayne. I know Elayne is concerned that not all the house are for her, so I am expecting at the least some major political pushing and shoving, and at worst some kind of rebellion, even civil war. Knowing that we still have so many books, I am leaning towards the later.

And, yeah, if I can be concerned over the possibility of civil war, than Elayne can too….which means a focus on defenses is needed instead of forcing her most trusted friends (and now guards) into ‘proper’ attire.

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

Other Tidbits

Is Someryn (one of Sevanna’s Wise Ones) the one with the hawk nose? Is this suppose to be the hawk that Min sees around Perrin? Is she and Faile going to hook up and become the best of friends?

Haha! When master Gil was going on about Perrin sampling from too many dishes and Perrin pointed out that he had not even had breakfast, I had to laugh. Giggling over that aside, I was a little sad at how easily people believed Perrin had been dabbling in Berelain, even against his protests.

That short scene with Perrin as a wolf was great. Really enjoyed the switch from wolf-Perrin to groggy, confused, angry, naked Perrin.

Winter's Heart Read Along Part I

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

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

This week we covered the Prologue through then end of Chapter 2. Spoilers are having a party below!

1. With Talene’s capture, do you think we have seen the beginning of the end of the Black Ajah? Do you think the rebel moles will do more good hunting darkfriends than they did spreading dissent?

I think it is going to take quite a bit more to bring down the Black Ajah. While they haven’t been the best at planning, they have done a decent job of compartmentalizing. Many only know a few others, and I expect very few, if any of them, know all the Black Ajah. Besides, I want to see some momentous stand off between the Black Ajah and some good guys.

Considering how many Darkfriends, etc. are in the White Tower currently, I think the moles will spread dissent and disquiet by ferreting out Darkfriends. Pretty amusing, if you think about it. They weren’t very good at spreading rumors and dissent on their own. Maybe they saw it as a stupid task. But hunting Darkfriends is real, something they can sink their teeth into. They can do a very good job of causing disorder behind the scenes by forcing the Black Ajah to swear loyalty to them.

And is that messed up or not? What if they had been wrong? I wonder what they would have done after torturing Talene so thoroughly if it turned out she was not Black Ajah.

2. Elayne expects to have to battle for the throne. Do you think so too? Are we overdue for Gawyn to come back? Where is he anyway?

Yes, I expect Elayne will have to battle someone in some way for the throne….just as Rand had to battle various people to keep it safe for her. Of course, she is going to chose to have a fight with Rand over the fact that he ‘gave’ her the thrown. I still find that immature in the extreme. One can acknowledge the effort, the gift (if you must call it that) and still draw the line at allies instead of one being subservient to the other.

But back to Elayne and her real enemies. Yes, folks see the opportunity to yank the thrown out from Elayne’s family line. And why not, with her off doing far more important tasks like trying to seduce Thom, perfecting her high wire act, and pursuing the angreal of all angreals (the Bowl of Winds). Maybe my opinion on Elayne and her ‘right to rule’ are leaking through a bit. I am hoping that she is tested through conflict and that she proves worthy of ruling. Hoping. Not expecting.

Oh, yes! Let’s bring angry, sullen, deadly Gawyn back into the mix! That could be quite fun. Hie heart is torn in two or three between Andor, Egwene, and the White Tower. It is probably time something forced him to chose a side, instead of three.

3. Elayne and Aviendha are ‘born again’ as sisters! What did you think of this birth scene? Do you expect Min to have to go through the same thing?

This scene was way more intense than I expected. Aviendha and Elayne really had to lay everything out there and once having done so, had to decide if they still wanted to be sisters. I was pretty impressed with this scene actually. For every point, good or bad or silly, that the two had to proclaim aloud, the Wise Ones then shot it down, showing how human they each are. I do wonder what the bond will do going forward. Is it something like a Warder bond in that each will feel some of the other’s feelings or pain or inebriation through the link? If so, maybe that is why Aviendha has been so open with Elayne about Rand.

In Aiel culture, do women married to the same man have to be bonded Sisters? Or are they simply just sister wives? I am not sure Min will have to go through the same ritual. After all, she has spent far less time with the Aiel, isn’t as familiar with their culture. Perhaps she will refuse to marry Rand anyway and will just be a sort of friend with benefits. I can see her doing that as it allows her to keep her independence – both from Rand and his wives.

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

4. Taim added a few ‘deserters’ of his own. Can we now finally add him to the evil list? Do you think Logain might be able to do something good? Maybe Elayne will be able to help, now that she has visitor’s access?

Yes, I think we can add Taim to the Evil List even though it is quite a long list and it would be nice to add a few more people to the Good List (but we seem to keep killing off the good guys so it’s hard to get new people to apply). It seems that Logain is already very suspicious of Taim and has collected a circle of guys loyal to him. They also seem to have independent plans from Taim and keep tabs on his comings and goings. So as long as Logain doesn’t get killed any time soon, then yes, I think we can see some good come from him.

Elayne’s access to the Black Tower may be her chance to shine as a leader. After all, many people want the Black Tower dead and buried; let’s see how and if she defends it. Next, there is Taim who is just bad mojo in a nice impressive suit. I look forward to seeing Elayne square off with him.

5. Rand has decided to leave palace life and go hunt bad guys. Are you excited? How do you even hunt someone who can travel anyway? And what do you think his idea is to cleanse Saidin?

Well, I always get excited when Rand leaves his entourage behind. It usually means he is off to do something stupid, and may also mean that he will get his ass beat when he returns to the entourage.

It sounds to me like he is trying to lay false trails. As Min points out, he should lay a trail he wants someone(s) to follow and wait in ambush. Short Min with her knives, hiding in the bushes, tall Rand standing behind a tree, sword drawn. OK, they should sit down and work out some of the details. But for a start, that isn’t too bad. I wonder if they will catch Slayer or Moridin or a Forsaken or two. At least some Darkfreind underlings.

I have no idea how Rand will cleanse Saidin. I can’t see that happening easily. He’ll probably run the risk of burning himself out. Min will probably have to carry his near-carcass back to civilization. Honestly, I think this task is so huge, so momentous, that it can’t happen until the last book. And wouldn’t it need more than Rand, like maybe 13 Asha’men and Aes Sedai linked to carry it out? If it was simple, something a single determined man could do, then it probably would have been at least attempted before if not accomplished.

6. Perrin’s problems are just piling up: Masema will join him, and now he has to chase down Shaido while keeping his own Aiel safe from his other soldiers. Will this unlikely alliance ever hold together, or do you expect some spectacular blow-up sometime?

Blow up. We need one. Since Faile can’t be yelling at Perrin or throttling Berelain while she is held captive, we need some other source for the drama. So, yeah, I can see some of the wool-headed louts in Perrin’s entourage deciding to go after the Aiel in Perrin’s group. The Aiel will not take this well and they are already on edge, having lost some of their own. I am also not sure about Berelain and which road she will take. At first, it seemed she was trying to give Perrin sympathy (in a professional way) but then she went all seductive on him. So inappropriate. I liked that Perrin told her off, but somehow, I don’t think she will take the hint.

Then the wolves are even telling Perrin to let Faile go, to mourn her, and to move one. So sad. But it would be wrong to slap the wolves, wouldn’t it?

Other Tidbits

Mazrim Taim kept stealing glances at Elayne’s bum! While I understand that Elayne wants to handle Taim herself, does she really expect no one else will tell Rand?

Very interesting about the 51 Aes Sedai captured by Logain and his men, and all bonded to Asha’men. Logain himself has two now, and the one bedding him found the experience quite educational and exhilarating. 😉

Very cool to have some steam engines going on at the university. I foresee some Steampunk goodness in the WoT future!

Lord of Chaos Read Along Part X

JordanLordOfChaosBannerWelcome all! Here we are at the end of the book and it was a crazy, intense one! Eivind, our awesome commenter, came up with this week’s questions and you can read his thoughts below in the comments.

Spoilers run free and uninhibited below!

1. There seems to be a serious lack of cooperation in Ebou Dar, and things are not so easy as they seem. Do you expect the girls to be able to complete this mission on their own (without Mat’s help)? We know that the key to finding the bowl is to find the one who is no longer. Have we already met this person?

I think the ladies will need someone’s help…maybe not Mat’s, but someone’s. Perhaps when they find ‘the one who is no longer’ they may even politely ask for assistance. Maybe.

So, who is ‘the one who is no longer’? Well, if it is someone we have met before, it is also someone who has moved on from the earthly plain, majorly transformed themselves, or is from a past age recently reborn into the world again but hasn’t woken to the fact. When put like that, that leaves the door open for all sorts of people. Moiraine and Lanfear fell in battle through that freaky doorway. What if one of them is back in some guise? Then the Big Dark One resurrected 2 Forsaken, so either of them could qualify. And Mat and Rand and probably a few others carry other, ancient folks & their memories in their heads.

I think I will enjoy seeing who Jordan puts in this role.

2. Two escapees from Salidar. Logain flees with Egwene’s help, and Moghedien by Aran’gar’s doing. Where do you see the story going for these two? Was Egwene right in setting Logain free? Should she, in hindsight, have executed Moghedien earlier?

I think Logain wants to bring down the Red Ajah, and perhaps the White Tower. So I see him joining forces with someone who can make that happen. Hopefully he chooses a decent sort – like Rand – instead of the indecent sort – like Padan fain.

Moghedien will do what Aran’gar tells her to do, and right now that is to report the DO at his semi-secret batcave. Moghedien is great at disguise, so I expect she will be set to spy on someone. Should be interesting once Egwene, Elayne, Nynaeve, or Birgitte catch up to her. 🙂

I think Egwene was right to free Logain since she could not make him an open ally of the Salidar Amyrlin. She may have to kill him later if he turns towards the dark side, but I think she can handle it.

And, yes, Moghedien should have been executed earlier, but I can see all the reasons while the ladies held off doing that. She was a maid, a source of ancient and lost knowledge, and generally didn’t cause a ruckus. So the ladies would have been executing her on past mideeds and her reputation, and not on her current somewhat helpful demeanor.

3. Lan returns to the story as Myrelle’s warder, with a heavy heart and apparently near death. Nynaeve is none the wiser. Does Myrelle even know about their relationship? Has she agreed to send him on to her? Do you expect this to happen soon, or will she have to be forced?

I am not sure Myrelle knows of Nynaeve’s relationship with Lan, but Myrelle did make some passing thought-comment about wanting to keep him alive long enough to fulfill her orders. It is possible Moiraine had an agreement with Myrelle, or just plain ordered her, to pass on Lan’s wardership to Nynaeve once Nynaeve was a real Aes Sedai. Or Myrelle was ordered to pass Lan on to yet a different Aes Sedai, who will then pass him to Nynaeve.

If this is so, Lan will be passed around like a toned stripper at a bacherlorette party. 😉

Or Myrelle is really one of the bad guys and some middle-management Dark Friend gave her orders to pass Lan off to trollocs or myrrdraal or such. Who will then pass him around like a blow up doll at a campsite beer brawl.

Either way, Lan is not going to like NOT being in charge of his life.

4. The loyalist Aes Sedai seem to have really gone out of their way in torturing Rand after he killed a couple of warders. Justified? What do you think this has done to Rand’s psyche? Could there be a connection to the first genuine direct conversation with Lews Therin?

Those Aes Sedai are idiots in so many ways. Their torture was not justified as Rand was in self-defense mode. Their treatment of Rand has definitely reinforced his own natural distrust of Aes Sedai, but has also reinforced/reawakened Lews Therin’s distrust, even hate, of Aes Sedai. This is going to make things so much more difficult between Rand and Egwene, Elayne, and Nynaeve (people he once trusted). Egwene plans to boss him around. Elayne plans to warder him (not sure if she will ask permission first). Nynaeve will demand to heal him (that still half-healed wound in his side) regardless of his desires on the matter. So, I can’t say I would blame rand for shying away from these women.

5. The Battle at Dumai’s Wells really had everything, didn’t it? Except for the Seanchan and the Whitecloaks, it seems every faction was represented. As Liesel suggested, feel free to nerd out about it here. 🙂

My favorite parts were Perrin and his wolves. I loved when he was requesting aid from the wolves and explained to them the Aes Sedai had Rand. Their response was simple and eloquent – We come! Things are so simple with Perrin’s wolves. Though I was a little surprised he didn’t warn his people, so as not freak them out.

Then later, Perrin kind of brings Rand down to earth by shouting at him about how many people have died for him already that day. Perrin and Loial want out from behind the protective shield so they can go tell the team to retreat since Rand is safe. And that is when Rand joins the fray with Mazrim and the asha’mon. It was excellent.

Overall, I really, really enjoyed this fight scene. Oh, and I loved how Rand treated all the Aes Sedai, including the ones who came to ‘rescue’ him. Haha!

6. It seems likely that our heroes would have been defeated without the timely arrival of Taim (you could say he was “on Taim”). With him having put his life on the line to save Rand, do you think he can now be trusted?

Was Taim’s life ever at risk? Really at risk? The dude brought an army, wields the Power, and can create a door in the middle of anywhere to a save place have a world away, if needed. If Taim is really a bad guy, or perhaps he is just on the fence about the matter, then this would be a fairly safe thing to do in order to try to gain Rand’s trust.

But I did notice that Rand wouldn’t allow Taim to heal him. I think Rand’s paranoia is going to be extra high for a while, and I can’t say that it isn’t wise.

7. “…and the world was changed forever.” Rand now has nine Aes Sedai under his command. Do you expect this to lighten or heighten tensions between him and the rebels and/or the loyalists? What other things might come from this?

First, how true is the sworn loyalty of an Aes Sedai, especially one under duress? Will it hold? If it holds, I think this will create stress between Rand and Egwene. Who would the Salidar Aes Sedai obey first – Rand or Egwene? Next, the leaders of the White Cloaks are convinced that Rand uses Aes Sedai to perform all his Power tricks, and this will just add credence to that lie.

Now Alanna is sworn to Rand, right? And Rand is her Warder. That could get messy, mostly for Alanna. She hasn’t been able to force him to do anything through the bond. Can Rand force her through her oath? Will be interesting to find out.

8. After their second thorough defeat, have we now finally seen the last of the Shaido, or do you think there are there still misdeeds to be done? Sevanna was thinking about some “call boxes” given to her by a wetlander. What and who could this be?

Much of the Shaido is captured or killed. Those captured have to do their servitude time and I am not sure how many will hold to those ‘old’ ways. Those Shaido that retreated….well, I am not sure how Aiel treat those who flee from battle, even when it is obvious they will lose. Perhaps some of those will go to the other Aiel clans and go into servitude for a time to repent for their stupid, mislead ways. Some may instead regroup and build strength before being pains in the asses again.

I don’t recall Sevanna and her call boxes. Sounds like some long-range communication device, one that doesn’t rely on birds. I am going to guess that Padan Fain is involved in that one.

9. Herid Fel was assassinated by… something. Why? He seemed harmless enough! We also learn that the Daughter of the Nine Moons is likely someone related to the Seanchan, and that they have designs on Ebou Dar (or at least spies there). With Mat in town this seems like a prime opportunity for some first-class prophecy fulfillment, no? Who do you expect her to be? Have we perhaps already seen her?

Herid Fel was working on new weapons for Rand, but also researching whatever he could find on the Aes Sedai-Warder bond. I think Rand really, really wants to break that bond. I know I would, like a recurring blister in a most uncomfortable place. So, who controls a golem? We haven’t seen golems before, right? So if they are a Sea Folk or Seachan thing, then I say Herid was killed for his masterly skills at coming up with new weapons. If the Aes Sedai, like Alanna, control golems, then I say he was killed for his research in the Warder bond.

Yes! It is time we have Mat meet the Daughter of the Nine Moons. Honestly, I really don’t know who to expect, and I don’t know if we have met her before. Robert Jordan is great at pulling in characters from previous books and showing them in a new light or putting them in a new situation. So I wouldn’t be surprised if we have met her, that she is a Seanchan warrior badass, and that Mat and she detest one another from the beginning. Haha! Perhaps Mat loses a bet and therefore his money bag, his clothes, and his unmarried status.

Anyway, I look forward or jumping into the next book to see what happens.

Other Tidbits:

Perrin physically removed Berelain from the room, yelling at her! Go Perrin! But Faile didn’t spring up and thank him, or kiss him, or reassure him that his actions were appropriate. Sigh….

I am really, really glad that Rand and Lews have finally got a dialogue going, one that useful, like breaking out of Aes Sedai jail. I am just sorry to say that it took nearly a week of Rand being bent over double smelling his own ass crack for this little communication breakthrough to occur.

The Fires of Heaven Read Along Part VII

JordanFiresOfHeavenBannerWelcome back once again to our little WoT nerdgasm. A lot of stuff happened in this week’s reading (Chapters 40-44) and so much of it was very exciting. Sue from Coffee, Cookies, & Chili Peppers is our host this week, so make sure to head over to her blog for intelligent conversation.

Spoilers lay in wait for the unwary and those who fail to read signage.

1. As usual, things have changed quite rapidly and Nynaeve now knows the location of the rebel Aes Sedai and has gained a personal ‘army’ of Shienarans. Do we really believe that Galad intends to let the girls leave without telling his superiors in the Whitecloaks? What reception do you expect them to receive when they reach Salidar?

Nynaeve really did have quite the turn of events, didn’t she? Now she not only has the Prophet looking for a boat, but also Galad. Of course, the personal army of heavily armed experienced warriors makes it possible to travel safely by land if need be. In this case, yes, I believe Galad will hold to his oath, and I say that because of his personal code and also Elayne’s belief he will too – and she should be a good judge as she knows how rigid he can be.

I wouldn’t be surprised if Nynaeve and Elayne receive the same kind of reception in Salidar as the stilled Amrylin did. Though Elayne may be grilled over binding Birgitte as a Warder. But I can also see Birgitte convincing the aes sedai to be polite about their questions, so perhaps we are in for a real treat as readers. I wouldn’t mind seeing Birgitte take on a verbal combat with some uppity aes sedai.

2. It seems that both Rand and the Cairhien are using innovative technology to break the siege. However, my biggest worry is that only the Aiel can distinguish between the Shaido and the other clans. Any suggestions for how to avoid the loyal Aiel falling to ‘friendly fire’ from the non-Aiel taking part in the battle?

Ah, yes, this is where the true value of some kind of uniform is particularly of use. Alas, I don’t think anyone is going to talk the Aiel on either, or any, side into wearing uniforms, even if Rand or Moiraine could conjure up enough in a short amount of time. Arm bands or certain types of feathers as distinguishers might be useful – but again, the same obstacles. Agreed upon battle cries, if one could hear clearly over great distances, would be another option – but this again requires the Aiel cooperation.

Now if Rand or even Moiraine could ‘paint’ the Aiel, on either side, with a sign visible only to Rand’s side, this might be the way to go. But this is wishful thinking and I wouldn’t expect such loose & easy play with the world’s magic rules to happen with Robert Jordan’s writing.

3. We are seeing open animosity between the Cairhien and Tairens. Do you think that this is typical of the hostility between neighbors, or is it more to do with the social status of the two groups? Do you think that Rand will ever be able to unite the various societies and social groupings to create a single force for the Last Battle?

I think the Cairhienen-Tairens conflict is a good example of the battle for supremacy. Dorks. OK, maybe I shouldn’t be too harsh on them because we’re at this battle because the Aiel couldn’t be united in the face of a major world event. If the Aiel can’t pull it together as a people, I guess we shouldn’t expect other cultures/nations to do so at first either.

Yes, I think Rand will eventually unite all the folks for the Last Battle, but I don’t think too much unification will happen in this book – perhaps we will see more unity with the Aiel if Couladin is no longer in play.

When nice, she is Bell Pepper. But mostly she is evil, so she is Pepper Corn.
When nice, she is Bell Pepper. But mostly she is evil, so she is Pepper Corn.

4. Poor Mat! It would seem that the Pattern still wants him to stay near to Rand. Do you think that he should simply give up trying and come to terms with his role as Rand’s military advisor? Also, how cross do you think Melindhra will be that he tried to sneak away?

I quite enjoy Mat’s constant attempts to leave, so I hope he doesn’t give up. Plot-wise, since he is driven by his ta’veren attraction to ta’veren, I don’t think he will ever get away unless the Wheel wills it. I hope he will settle down a little to give Rand military advice and participate in battles, and continue his inner battles and failed attempts to flee in between.

As for Melindhra. Hmm… Well, if she is still around (hasn’t left or been killed) then I expect her to give Rand some hell. Even if she didn’t mind, she might feel the need to keep up appearances and will at least give him a verbal tongue lashing. If she is a Dark Friend and snuck off on some Dark Friend errand, then Mat might feel a little odd, perhaps even used, once he realizes he has been intimate with a Dark Friend. If she is dead, Mat would probably unexpectedly feel some remorse, and perhaps guilt over being a chum for leaving with at least a polite fairwell.

5. Holy exploding hilltops, Batman! With just three channelers joining the battle we see a lot of mayhem and carnage. How effective do you think they are at defeating the Shaido? Is anyone else getting more than a little tired of Rand’s sexist attitude towards protecting women?

With three channelers, I honestly expected the battle to be over nearly before it began, with perhaps a small hardcore force around Couladin left to be mopped up by cavalry. Instead, it seemed rather chaotic and unimaginative. The lightning strikes were showy, but even Mat’s horse was getting use to it. I think this was an excellent opportunity for the three of them to experiment with the more chaotic and destructive side of channeling, but alas, they stuck with lightning.

Let’s talk about Rand. On one hand, he is being honest with himself and his limitations when it comes to harming vagina-enhanced beings, even if they are evil and doing nefarious deeds. On the other hand, it is pretty insulting to half the human race, not to mention giving the bad guys an unfair advantage so long as they keep sending XX chromosome people in his way.

In some ways, this series is a bit sexist. Rand and his harem, as humorous as it is sometimes, is sometimes like taking a walk in the PG13 version of a young male’s wet dream. Then we have the constant reminders that the sexes are separate and different – culturally, in powers, in responsibilities, through the various squabbles. Add to that the Aiel men being granted more than one wife (provided the women agree to it) and Rand’s hesitancy to harm women and we have a lovely background of sexism. This could all be cleared up with a bit of equality – like giving a female lead, say Moiraine or Morgase or Elayne, multiple husbands, and perhaps Nynaeve will have a change of heart and will find it impossible to hurt men, etc.

But, as one of the WoT Quad wisely pointed out a few weeks back, this is all part of the Wheel of Time world – suck it up. And for this section I could because there is plenty of good stuff going on. Also, I would like to point out that I have been culturally conditioned to ignore such sexism; unless I am actively thinking about it or the sexism directly affects me, I am not picking up on it (sad state of affairs, I know).

6. Sammael seems to have decided to act, and yet his attacks have been rather ineffective. Do you think that he was simply testing Rand’s strength, or did he really intend to kill or capture him?

I don’t think this was the big marshaled, linked in force we saw the Forsaken planning. Sammael, or the other Forsaken, were testing Rand. I am not too sure this was Sammael anyway. Rand has that on his mind, but the Forsaken want him to be thinking it is Sammael to lure him into a trap. I wonder if Asmodean figured this out at the end of Chapter 44. Asmodean did go pretty white at seeing Rand – though if Rand dies (and he was bleeding profusely), I think Asmodean wouldn’t be around too long after. So, he might have been scared bloodless by that fact. Perhaps that is why he was feeding a trickle o the power to Rand when he passed out.

7. Finally, this battle seemed rather confusing to me and it was difficult to follow what exactly was happening. How did you feel about this aspect of the narrative? Would you have preferred a clearer account or not?

I too found the battle confusing. I was quite enjoying the descriptions until I lost track of what was going on. While I don’t particularly like all the nebulous writing, I think it does give one a sense of the confusion of such a big battle in such a terrain. Since we ended Chapter 44 at the end of the battle, I am hoping that Chapter 45 (or 46 if 45 is about Nynaeve & Elayne) will at least give us an after-the-fact account.

Remember that big battle at the end of Book 2 with folks battling the Seanchan and Rand fighting in the sky? Yeah, that was pretty nebulous too. And there was no play-by-play accounting afterwards. I really hope Robert Jordan gives us some kind of summary of the battle instead of leaving us like that. If I have an after-the-fact summary of some sort, I am usually good with confusion in the battle description.

Other Tidbits:

Nynaeve’s stellar performance in Birgitte’s arrow show was quite amusing. Still, I understand her anxiety, having, some years ago, had a tie-down unexpectedly break free and whip past my head close enough to fan my cheek and stir my hair. Yes, I could look quite different and no longer symmetrical today if I had been over half an inch.

Ah, Nynaeve! Her comment to Uno and his buddy about their language and how they will find out the hard way why the men of Two Rivers keep civil tongues had me laughing out loud.

Mat’s comment about wanting to hang out with some women who’s brothers don’t have knife scars was great. Haha! I guess he got tired of hanging out with women who have their own knife scars and wants something softer.

Applause to Rand for using the moment to send Lan to chat Mat up and see what battle expertise, if any, Mat had remembered from past lives. Rand is looking at the long haul and starting to make use of whatever edge he can to try to save the world. Hopefully Mat will join him in that effort more willingly next time.