If you haven't read the book, or the whole series, why not join in and read along with the rest of us? You can find links to everyone else’s thoughts at Dab of Darkness.
This week we read through to the end of Chapter 33.
1) Perrin, Egwene, Elyas, and Bela had quite the intense ride. What did you think about the ravens and what dark magic could motivate birds, even carrion birds, into such behavior?
I am not quite sure why, but I found the whole episode with the ravens killing the fox very, very disturbing. I was in total agreement with Egwene when she vomited at the mention of a fox with its entrails on its head . . . There is something especially sinister about ‘normal’ animals behaving in such a totally abnormal, and evil, way that is more horrific than Trollocs and other monsters. The fact that they did not even eat their kills makes their behavior even more bizarre and unnatural. I guess this answers last week’s question about why this area is so sparsely populated. The only thing that has been creepier was the sentient mist thing in Shadar Logath.
2) In Chapter 29, we hear part of the legend of Artur Hawkwing. How do you like Robert Jordan's nod to such an ancient legend and his use of it and other mythologies in building his world?
I get the feeling that Mr Jordan drew upon lots of different mythologies for inspiration when he created his world. Artur Hawkwing reminds me of the legendary King Arthur, whose legacy also fell apart as soon as he died. I suspect that politics and the use / abuse of power are going to be recurring themes in the series, and this is only one of the many examples that we will discover. Artur seems to have been a very powerful man, but without the foresight to see that only his personal power bound his kingdom together. This shows that one can impose order if one has enough power, but that the order is not self-supporting. I also find it interesting that Artur tried to destroy the Aes Sedai rather than trying to incorporate them within his power structure. This shows that he was too inflexible in his approach to power to ever leave a lasting legacy.
3) Do you think Lord Captain Bornhald and Child Byar capture the two ends of the spectrum for the men who make up The Children of the Light?
I am not sure that they are all that different from one another: I suspect that Bornhald is simply what Byar will become in several years once he has matured and become less volatile. Indeed, I think Bornhald is much more dangerous than Byar because he appears to be so reasonable. You would know exactly where you stood with Byar, because he is so bad at hiding his emotions and thoughts. However, Bornhald appeared to be very reasonable, right up until he announced that Perrin would have to die for killing two of the Children.
I am always very wary of military forces based upon religious beliefs, because even the most peaceful religion can become twisted when people use it as excuse to have power over others. So far the Children are behaving exactly as I would expect.
4) Mat and Rand have a little fight over whether to sell Mat's dagger, as they are running out of food. How do you like the solution they came up with?
Mat is perfectly correct in saying that they could never sell the dagger to any of the people that they would encounter on the road, but I still wish that he would get rid of the horrible thing. As for their solution: it is a sensible way to earn their way, but it did make it very easy for the Darkfriends to track them. However, I do not really see any alternative, especially if they could not get work on the farms as they were travelling.
I do like the fact that the characters have to deal with a lack of food and inclement weather as this adds a dose of realism to the story. It also adds to the feeling that quite a lot of time is passing and that they are travelling long distances. I do hate it when an “EPIC” quest takes only a few days and no suffering! :D
5) At Four Kings, Mat and Rand play for food and bed at a dive of an inn run by Saml Hake. During the course of the night, Rand spots a man, who turns out to be a Dark Friend, Howal Gode. And this naughty Dark Friend disturbs their sleep in a locked room. What do you think happened there?
As far as I can see there are two alternatives:
1. They were amazingly lucky that lightning struck the room, but did not injure Mat or Rand whilst killing all their enemies . . . yeah right!
2. Rand was busy wishing for a way out of the situation and then, “Wham!” something similar to lightning blows out the wall with the window and also incinerates all the bad guys . . . can we all agree that this was most likely to be Rand channeling the One Power? It was even followed up by the sudden fever that Moiraine had mentioned to Nynaeve . . .
My answer to the last question is also supported by the actions of the female darkfriend, who attempts to kill Mat. This suggests that she can detect Rand’s ability to use the One Power, which makes him much more important to the Dark One than Mat. Remember how Rand thinks that she looks like an Aes Sedai? Perhaps she IS an Aes Sedai and part of the Black Ajah, which I have to assume is a hidden group within the other Ajahs. I was rather disturbed by her smoking dagger as well . . .