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This week we read the prologue through to the end of Chapter 14.
1. The stories of Moraine and her sisters don't seem to always match up with who she is, but other times they do (the whirlpool). How do you think these two versions of Moraine compare?
It seems to me that powerful people are always treated with distrust, especially by those who have no personal experience of them, so I can understand why the stories about the Aes Sedai are fairly negative. Also, many of these tales are based upon accounts that have been passed through a succession of other people, and so they are likely to have been warped by that, just like a message is mangled in a game of Chinese Whispers. I can also believe that governments and the leaders in various societies would be unhappy with a very powerful group that is obstinate about remaining separate from any of them and so their resentment will build and pollute their opinions.
However, I am not convinced that Moiraine is being totally honest with the Two Rivers folk. I feel that she has a much larger view of the world than they can imagine, and so she is much more pragmatic about their survival than they might suspect. Her comment about destroying the boys rather than letting them fall into enemy hands was very telling and showed that she is not driven by sentiment.
2. Rand has now had two dreams that seem to be more than dreams. What do you think they mean?
I think it is fairly obvious that Rand is the Dragon Reborn, and that these dreams are either memories from his previous incarnation(s) or are real connections to the Dark One. This second one certainly seems to be a real conversation, especially as the Dark One refers to the incidents that we saw in the Prologue, which were only witnessed by two individuals. The link to the Dark One is very troubling, but the length of this series makes me doubt that Rand will die any time soon!
3. There are two other boys that could be significant to the Trollocs, but Moraine seems to be paying special attention to Rand. How do you think all of them are involved? Also why do you think all of this is happening now all of a sudden, instead of when the boys were younger?
It would appear that there is something very significant about a baby born at about the same time as Rand, Mat and Perrin: I am guessing that a prophecy pinpointed the Dragon Reborn’s birth at that time. Unless Moiraine can sense something about Rand, it might simply be his obvious difference from the other Two Rivers folk that makes her single him out for special attention. It could be that the prophecy mentions his ancestry, which we know could be from outside the Two Rivers because of Tam’s ramblings. Moiraine does mutter something about it being unusual to find ‘two’ in a small village, which I have to assume is Egwene and another woman, so it could be that all three lads have special powers of some sort.
As for why this is happening now . . . we know that Egwene is about to come into her powers, so perhaps Rand is now approaching the age at which his power would manifest. Of course, this does not explain why anyone who suspected where he was would wait for years before retrieving him. He could have been snatched years ago and raised to manhood by either ‘side’ while they trained him. I suppose that the prophecy might have only just been revealed, or that some other piece of information has been revealed and hinted at his location.
4. Thom has hinted at an interesting past and reacted to Moraine's presence when she first appeared. What do you think of this mysterious gleeman?
He seems to know a great deal about the Aes Sedai and other matters, suggesting that he has had access to the courts of kings and other leaders. This seems unlikely for a common gleeman, but it is a great cover for a travelling spy or someone who wants to be able to pass unnoticed and yet has access to all places.
5. We've been learning more about the Aes Sedai, but also about the lack of male counterparts. What do you think of this? Is it somehow related to the prologue?
Lews Therin, the man in the Prologue, was obviously a man who could touch saidin. As we learn, all such men eventually go mad because of the taint that the Dark One has placed upon this half of the One Power. I can understand why someone with that kind of power who was unstable would be a huge danger to the world, so it makes sense that the Aes Sedai try to track them down and prevent them from doing any damage. However, I am not sure if that is the entire truth, and perhaps these male Aes Sedai are not as dangerous as they are said to be.
6. Lan noticed Rand's sword and commented on how Rand's father taught him to concentrate. How do you think these coincidences are related?
As I said last week, I do not think that Tam bought the sword. It seems increasingly likely that he was a master swordsman of some type, and so bears the heron mark on his blade. The technique of ‘the flame and the void’ is likely to be a concentration or meditation technique taught by a certain order of warriors. Lan was obviously surprised to hear that Rand had heard of the technique.
Finally, I just wanted to mention that my copy has a map before chapter 13 for the new areas that our adventurers have moved into and I was wondering if anyone else had noticed this map and what people thought of "maps as you go."
I like the idea of getting more detailed maps as we go along, however, I was a little annoyed by this particular map did not show Baerlon or the Two Rivers, so it was not obvious how it related to what we were reading. It almost seems like it should have been included later in the book.