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 On Starships & Dragonwings.
This week we read through to the end of Chapter 40.
1. Looks like Rand and Mat met another ally finally. What do you think of Master Gill? Do you think his hope in Thom is well placed?
Master Gill seems like a decent, honest man, so I think that Rand and Mat can trust him. I get the feeling that Thom is a hard man to befriend, but Master Gill certainly thinks very highly of him, even if he finds Thom annoying and frustrating at times. His comments about Thom suggest a great friendship between the two men. Also, the fact that Thom says that Gill is trustworthy is a testament to the man’s character.
I find it hard to believe that Thom is dead because he is such a well drawn character with an interesting back story that we have only glimpsed so far. Master Gill suggests that Thom is capable of surviving most things and I find that easy to accept because I want to know much more about Thom. I expect that we will finally find out that he was someone very important, with a high standing and superior training.
2. Loial the Ogier! How adorable right? We only get a brief glimpse into this new race, but what do you think? What part do you think he'll play in the story?
Loial (pronounced like ‘loyal’) is a terrific character and I was shocked that I had forgotten about him. The ogier are a strange mix of Tolkien’s dwarves and elves. They have ‘dwarvish’ abilities to work stone, but are more ‘elf’-like in their affinity for trees and nature. There is also an ‘entish’ feel to his talk of humans being ‘hasty’, which I find very appealing.
I like the choice to give us a young and rebellious member of this ancient race. So often we see these elder races as wise and venerable, with lots of self-control and patience, but we rarely see their youngsters. It seems strange to think of a ninety year old runaway, but it seems that this is the best description for Loial. He mentions the Ways a few times, so I hope that he will join our merry band and help them to use what sounds like a method for long-distance travel.
I am really looking forward to reading what his mother says to him when he returns home: I expect it to be hilarious!
3. During the rescue of Perrin and Egwene, did it seem like Lan was overly concerned about Nynaeve to anyone else? >.> <.<
As someone who has read some of these books before, I do not want to comment too much on this.
It certainly seems that Nynaeve is interested in proving herself to him, but as she is always grumpy, I am not sure if she is more provoked by him than by anyone else. As for Lan, Moiraine has told him that Nynaeve is important, so maybe he is simply trying to keep the Aes Sedai happy.
4. The Dark One has been blamed for all sorts of things lately. Do you think that the Dark One is the root of Perrin's power like Moraine fears? How about Rand's?
I agree with Lan in believeing that Perrin’s power comes form something much older than the Dark One. The wolves seem to be actively opposed to Shai’tan and his forces, so I do not see how they could be associated with him or how Perrin’s talent could be derived from him.
I do not think Rand’s power comes from him either. No matter who exactly is presenting himself as Ba’alzamon in the boys’ dreams, it is obvious that they have a choice about whether or not to follow him. Surely, if the Dark One had given them their powers he would have much more control over them and would not need to try to sway them to follow him.
Also, we see the Dark One being blamed for anything and everything. For example, the Children of the Light claim that all the Aes Sedai are Darkfriends, which does not seem to be true. As one would expect in a society driven by fear and superstition, anyone who is a little different is easily accused of being evil.
5. Very briefly Rand encounters a beggar who is obviously determined to find him specifically. Who do you think this is? What do you think is going to happen with this beggar in the future?
I have a sneaking suspicion that the beggar is Padan Fain, who we last saw in Baerlon. At that time he seemed to be very ragged and more than a little crazed, so it is easy to imagine that he would have deteriorated by the further travel and hardships since then.
He is going to keep tracking Rand and the others until he is permanently dead.
6. We learn a whole lot about Queen Morgase in this section, including getting to meet her in person! What do you think? Do you like the tradition of sending the royal children to study with the Aes Sedai and Warders?
She seems like a very imposing and talented leader, although I am a little concerned that her temper is supposed to be very fiery as I imagine that this could affect her judgment at times. She is certainly in complete control of her court, even squashing a powerful Aes Sedai and does not seem to have surrounded herself with sycophants, which gives me hope.
Although I can see how Aes Sedai and Warder training would be great assets for the royal children, it does seem a little dangerous, especially for the daughter-heir when there is no ‘spare’ available. I would have thought that this left them vulnerable to attacks from other branches of the royal family that could claim the throne once she was removed. Does that make me a little cynical?
7. Rand had quite an adventure in the palace there, wow! And we finally get to meet another Aes Sedai. What do you think of Elaida and her dark assessment of Rand's future?
After Loial’s identification of Rand as a ta’veren, it was not much of a surprise that Elaida would be so interested in Rand: I assume that she can detect the same things about him as Moiraine. However, her interest seems much more hostile than Moiraine’s. There seemed to be a definite threat of torture or hard questioning when she suggested that he be imprisoned.
Her Foretelling was not much of a surprise because it is blatantly obvious that Rand and his friends are going to be very influential in the coming battle between Light and Dark. It tends to confirm my thought that he is the Dragon Reborn, but is so vague as to mean very little at the moment. However, I expect her to try to recapture him, no matter what the Queen has decided, and I predict that she will remain a danger for Rand and the others.