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This week we read through to the end of Chapter 8.
1) Both Niall and Carridan seem to be playing with two-edged swords. Niall wants the Dragon Reborn to create enough panic, sorrow, and destruction to have the populace begging the Children of the light to do something. Whereas Carridan vows to one lord to keep the Dragon Reborn alive and vows the opposite to another. Did you enjoy this beginning more or less than the first two books in the series?
I have to admit that I am always a little pessimistic about passionately religious people, so I am not at all surprised that they are not driven by the most holy of intentions. Niall’s idea of using the Dragon Reborn to squash any opposition to the Children would be much more acceptable if he actually believed that the Last Battle was approaching. However, he sees Rand as a simple way to expand the Children’s influence with no expectation of using that to fight the Dark One, which I find a much less noble goal.
I think our earlier encounters with Carridan had suggested that he was probably a Darkfriend and his actions in regards to the Seanchan invasion were very suspicious. I have no idea how he can keep both masters happy, but I doubt that his family will survive for very long.
2) Throughout this section we see that Min believes herself in love with Rand. What do you make of this one sided romance?
At the moment it is rather heart breaking to see the poor girl being swept up in these events. We know that she has seen her future with him, which must be quite an unusual experience, but to know that she will need to share him must be very difficult. However, she seems determined to accept her fate and make the best of a crappy situation, which is probably the best that she can hope for.
I doubt the Rand is giving her much thought at the moment because he is having a hard time keeping hold of reality. I am particularly worried about the reports of him talking and laughing to himself. I do wonder if he will suddenly have a flash of insight and realize that they are meant to be together, but for now he has other things on his mind.
3) Within a few chapters, the big picture story arc of this book starts to follow the story arcs of Book 1 and Book 2 - trollocs unexpectedly appear and shortly thereafter our main heroes are separated for one reason or another. What do you think of this pattern?
Why did I not notice that? Doh!
I suppose these attacks as a way to remind us that the apparent victories over the Dark One were only minor successes and that the war is still ongoing. Also, they provide the impetus to get the group moving again after they have relaxed and healed from their wounds. However, I really do hope that this pattern is not repeated again in book 4, otherwise it will look a little lazy.
4) Rand has run off and some of our heroes follow, tracking him. At one place they come across a village that recently suffered a bout of weddings and Whitecloaks going AWOL. Did Rand make the right choice, leaving? Do you think the decisions made by folks while Rand is around will hold after a few days?
I am not sure if Rand made the correct choice, mainly because we do not really know his reasons for leaving, but it seems that he is being drawn to Tear to take the sword Callandor and fulfill that aspect of the prophecies surrounding the Dragon Reborn. Whether these ideas are his or are planted by the Dark One is a question that worries me because we have seen that dreams can be manipulated.
Even before Moiraine explained it to Perrin it seemed obvious to me that the bizarre behavior in the village was due to Rand’s influence. We have heard before that a powerful Ta’veren can affect those around them, so it was a logical conclusion to draw. I am not sure that the decisions were massively out of character: it seems more likely that his influence simply made the people more likely to act upon their hidden desires.
5) Do you believe that Moiraine had not caught fish before in the manner Perrin and Loial 'taught' her or do you think it was some clever ploy of her's?
I really liked this scene, because it showed her sense of humor. I think it is highly likely that she has tickled for trout before during her many years of wandering with Lan. She may also have been able to use her powers to persuade the biggest fish to cooperate with her, so I suspect some cheating occurred. I love the way she manipulates Perrin and Loial into doing everything for her, but I can see why it is important that they obey without question: sometimes she will not have the time to explain what they need to do.
6) Perrin's wolfish gifts are growing in strength. Then we come upon a man, Noam, who has lost himself completely to such gifts. Have you ever found yourself in a similar situation as Perrin, facing what you might become if you lack self-control?
I have seen people behaving very badly in ways that I can see me doing in certain circumstances and it is very sobering. However, it does also help to reinforce your own internal efforts to avoid expressing such behavior oneself.
No! Lanfear is at it with Perrin now! I know that he might have been viewing Rand’s dream at that point, but whom else can you imagine Min warning him to run away from? :(