Hello WoT Fans! This is week five of the exciting and detailed dissection of Lord of Chaos. Our awesome host this week is Sue from Coffee, Cookies, & Chili Peppers, so make sure to head over to her place for some higher thoughts and excellent deduction. You can also catch Eivind our Commenter over there and swing by Liesel’s at Musings on fantasia for fan art!
We’re covering Chapters 17-24 this week; Spoilers await the unwary below, with balefire!
1. We get to see a little of how Cairhien is working with Berelain in charge. Wetlanders trying to apply ji’e’toh: can this end well? What did you think of Rand’s decision to execute Mangin?
As much as I like the Aiel (high sense of honor, equality within the society, warriors, etc.), they are pretty immovable and inflexible in many things. They believe and act as if their set of standards and ideals should apply to everyone, whether they are Aiel or not. On the other hand, we started off with the kids from Two Rivers doing the same thing, although they didn’t take it to extremes and try to kill anyone who severely offended their sense of honor through a tattoo or head scarf or certain jewelry.
I admire Berelain for allowing the ladies to stay and train as they will instead of sending them home to be proper daughters, wives, etc. While Berelain is trained in some sort of hand & foot self-defense, I have to wonder if she felt trapped in a ‘feminine’ role all her life, forced to use her charms instead respected for her brains and organizational skills.
If Rand did not kill Mangin, after having set down very clear rules with very clear consequences, he would have lost major respect from the Aiel as a whole. In fact, I would bet money that Mangin was well aware of the likely consequences of his actions before he killed that man, and still weighed it as needing done. However, part of me would like to think that if Moirraine or Elayne or perhaps Nynaeve had been about, one of them could have come up with a clever way to punish Mangin without hanging him, and without Rand losing face. It was wrong of Berelain to leave it for Rand, and perhaps a little cruel? Cowardly?
2. Ogiers, Shadar Logoth and a missing Aiel, oh my! How great was it to meet some more Ogiers, especially Elder Haman and Loial’s mother? Do you think it was wise for Rand to take so many Aiel with them? Oh, and how do you think Loial will react to his reunion with Erith?
So while we haven’t had a Loial fix in some time (I’m missing him quite a bit actually), this was a nice substitute. We had that brief visit to a steading….Book 4? Book 3? But other than Loial, we haven’t really gotten to see other Ogier. I was a little surprised that Rand ordered maps and ink and quills brought to the courtyard rather than asking them all in, ordering tea and cakes, while the maps were all fetched. Still, each side was in a hurry for their own reasons.
The Aiel are constantly fighting Rand on this point. Rand wants to keep them safe, and they all want to keep him safe. I liked that Rand was adamant with them about staying together, staying out of buildings and shadows, and not taste testing of anything! Still, someone wasn’t paying attention, or Shadar Logoth has more tricks than even us readers know. It is not Rand’s fault one went missing and couldn’t be found. He was right to forbid the Aiel to search within the buildings, because then all sorts of folks would have gone missing.
Loial and Erith haven’t seen each other in 5 years. If this wasn’t a PG fantasy, I would say that I wouldn’t expect things to turn out as rosy as Erith pictures them. But this is a PG fantasy (a very entertaining one, but still PG), so I expect some shuffling of feet, some harsh words, some light misunderstandings, and then some love poetry and an Ogier wedding. Personally, I find it a bit irritating that the Ogier all assume that Loial is being an errant, selfish child by insisting on traveling. But they don’t all know what I as a reader know about Loial’s efforts to save people and the world at large.
3. A group of dead Tinkers, complete with ominous message, and Travelling groups of Aiel assassins. Any suggestions as to who is responsible for these two incidents and do you think that the message was written by the Tinker or one of the attackers? Was anybody surprised that Olver sneaked away from his foster home and followed Mat?
My rough guess is that whoever set the Aiel (most likely Shaido) on Mat, also had the Tinkers killed at that location. By doing this, the attacker could be reasonably sure that Mat would halt his troupes nearby for the night in order to allow for burial of the Tinkers. This would give the attacker the advantage of knowledge of the terrain. Once again, I turn to one of the Forsaken. I don’t think Sammael is that clever to set this up, so he’s out. Semirhage has enough wits and cleverness, so perhaps her. Moghedien is out and Lanfear too, for obvious reasons. Graendel could do it, but would she? Anyhoo, one of the powerful bad guys did it, most likely a Forsaken or a Black Ajah powerful enough who has been taught the trick of it.
I think the tinker left the message and I think it was simply that – tell Rand about the dead Tinkers. It would matter to him.
No, I wasn’t surprised that Olver slipped his keeper and came after Mat. It was sweet of Mat to give him a job to do and some pocket change.
4. Sammael tells Graendal that he has a truce with Rand and she actually believes him. Is she having a really bad day or has Scarface suddenly got a lot better at play-acting? Also, why does he want her to believe that he has a truce?
Perhaps Sammael feels he would lose face with the other Forsaken if they knew how quickly and completely Rand turned him down. It’s like asking someone to prom and they shooting off with the wrong answer without any hesitation at all, but you don’t want all your friends to think you are really that uncool, so you fib a bit and say that they already have a date, but that you plan to do coffee with them later.
Oh, and I am pretty sure that Sammael had to practice lying in the mirror, for hours!, in order to fool anyone.
On the other hand, you would think that the Forsaken all have their human spies near Rand in some shape or form and that some of them would have a first hand report of Rand’s utter rejection of Sammael’s pathetic offer. Hence, Sammael the idiot once again.
5. We know that Rhuarc had to give her a good whipping in Tear, but do you have any idea why the Wise Ones have adopted Berelain like a daughter? Does she seem to be a good choice as interim ruler in Cairhien?
Berelain seems to be keeping order, getting shit done, and even allowing women a larger role in the military, work force, and government. I think the Aiel are more about practicalities rather than getting hung up on what someone wears. Hence, they first judged Berelain on what she could do and what she chose to do, rather than her wardrobe. The fact that she no longer pursues Rand, now that she has a day job, probably didn’t escape their notice.
I do enjoy how Berelain teases Egwene by making lewd remarks to her about Rand. Yes, I am a little imp inside :).
6. The envoy of Aes Sedai from Elaida has arrived in Cairhien. What do you think about the inclusion of a Red sister in the group? There are six that Egwene spots in the street, but do you think there are more lurking about, possibly another seven?
I think this is very much in keeping with Elaida’s character. She is a red so it would be unlike her to leave red out of the envoy. It would also be like her to sneak a further 7 into the city somehow, perhaps weeks ago, in singles or pairs. Sooner or later, someone is going to try to cut Rand off from the source, and gentle him. I think it should be Elaida and crew and I look forward to seeing the looks of consternation and surprise on their faces when it doesn’t go down as they expect.
Rand is having to travel a tough road and he’s got my respect for calling the rough calls. He was right to enforce his rules, but showed further wisdom by not making Mangin’s hanging special by being present for it.
The way Loial’s mum kept looking at Erith was great! Territory issues? Haha! Should be interesting to see how that works out between mum and soon-to-be daughter-in-law.
Hooray for Rand for finally closing off/guarding the Ways!