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This week we read the prologue through to the end of Chapter 6.
1) That prologue was pretty intense. If you haven't read the book/don't remember, any wild guesses as to who all these spooky characters are? If you know, feel free to make snarky comments.
We are shown that Bors is a member of the Children of the Light, and he wears the emblem of an Inquisitor. Of course, this could be a ruse, but somehow I find it quite easy to believe that the Children harbor Darkfriends. His descriptions of some of the others at the gathering include at least a couple of Aes Sedai, but I doubt that we will be able to identify them any time soon. I guess the most disturbing thing was that we were shown a lot of people from a vast array of cultures and places, which begs the question: how did they all get to the meeting place?
As a side note, I really wish that Mr Jordan had not chosen to use the name ‘Inquisitor’ because it always makes me think of Monty Python and the Spanish Inquisition, which is a little distracting! :D
2) Hehe! What do you think of all of Rand's attempts to escape from the keep?
Poor lad, he really had no hope of getting out, did he? I liked his nonchalant approaches to all of the gates: I could imagine him walking past each one whistling and trying, unsuccessfully, to look casual.
I am curious about who gave the initial order for the gates to be closed, as it was not Agelmar.
3) What do you make of Egwene's visits to the dungeon and to specifically visit Padan Fain?
Oh, Egwene, you stupid girl!
I guess it shows us that Fain can still be charming and persuasive when he wants to be, but this was always going to be a really bad idea. I assume that she has a tendency to always see the good in people and thinks that she can talk him into not being a truly evil Darkfriend. Hopefully this incident will be a giant dose of realism that will make her much more careful in future.
I thought that it was very obvious that the guards and other prisoners were being affected by Fain: even Egwene notices that the guards have changed. For some reason, their walk past the other prisoners made me think of ‘The Silence of the Lambs’, so I was just glad that neither of them threw anything at her . . .
4) We have a shift in point of view pretty quickly in this book (as opposed to The Eye of the World). Has your view of Moiraine altered any by riding around in her head?
I think that being inside her head makes her seem much less powerful. We get to see her doubts and realize that she has fears and restrictions that she cannot avoid. This makes it clear that she is not the all-powerful answer to everyone’s troubles that was suggested in the previous book.
The other major worry, is that we now see how fragmented the Aes Sedai really are, which does not bode well for the coming battle. It looks like they will possibly continue their infighting whilst the Dark One sweeps to victory. The limits upon the power of the Amyrlin Seat are especially worrying: she seems to be delicately trying to herd cats rather than imposing her will upon them.
5) We finally get to meet some more Aes Sedai - in force. What are your impressions?
Liandrin has possibly made the great impact so far: and she is a particularly nasty piece of work. I would not be at all surprised to find that she is Black Ajah. The fact that she looks pretty makes her even scarier, as her personality is so well disguised. Her attack upon Lady Amalisa was particularly unnecessary, as I am sure that her request would have been fulfilled without coercion. I get the feeling that she really enjoys hurting people and has the mind of a psychopath.
The Amyrlin Seat was not at all what I expected. I had expected the leader of the Aes Sedai to be a powerful leader who would treat the Sisters in much the same way as Moiraine treats normal people. The fact that she has to be wary of opposition makes her more of a figurehead than a person of real power.
6) Trollocs! Any guesses as to how they got in? Anyone else amused that the overall atmosphere is abruptly jarred by the unexpected appearance of Trollocs in both The Eye of the World and The Great Hunt?
We know that someone opens Fain’s cell door, so there is obviously a Darkfriend in the keep. Is it Liandrin? Somehow, I doubt that, as it would be far too obvious at this point in the story: she is too overtly evil. I also doubt that everything would be left to a single Darkfriend. From the Prologue we know that there are plenty of them, that they are all anonymous and that they all receive separate orders. I would imagine that each is given only a part of the plan to execute, so that capture would make torture mostly ineffective: none of them has an idea of the reason behind their actions.
The arrival of Trollocs was certainly a shock, especially because Fal Dara is such a well-prepared keep and does not allow itself to become too comfortable or complacent about its history of holding the dark forces at bay. I had not made the link to the beginning of The Eye of the World, but now that you point it out I have to agree that this is a definite pattern: I hope that we do not see it repeated in later books as I hate it when authors start to fall into a formula.