Sunday, May 5, 2013

The Dragon Reborn by Robert Jordan Read Along: Week 3

If you haven't read the book, or the whole series, why not join in and read along with the rest of us? This week I came up with the questions, so you can find links to everyone else’s thoughts at the bottom of this post.

This week we read through to the end of Chapter 30.

1. We see Verin hoarding a collection of Corianin Sedai's writings on Dreaming. Do you think that she should share them (or selected portions) with Egwene or do you think that blundering around in the dark is the best way to learn how to do something?

I think you might be able to guess my opinion from the way in which I worded the question: I am not at all happy that Verin is withholding the information from Egwene. The only acceptable reason for not sharing them would be if they do not contain any useful information. However, that does not seem to be the case as Verin is determined to keep them and also has them hidden away from prying eyes: this suggests that they contain something useful.

This leaves me wondering what they might contain that Verin does not want Egwene to see. Do they somehow indicate that she is Black Ajah? I find it difficult to understand how they could, but there is something fishy going on here and I do not like it.

2. In her testing for becoming Accepted, we see Egwene as Amyrlin. Can you accept this as a possible future for her or is it too improbable?

Given her present situation it seems an unlikely prospect for many years to come. However, there was no hint in the experience as to how much in the future this might be. Also, she is one of the most powerful women at the time, so it makes sense that she could be chosen to be Amyrlin, especially as Elayne is destined to be Queen of Caemlyn and Nynaeve has issues with control.

Another point in her favor is her relationship to the three ta’veren, who are likely to strongly influence her future. I sometimes wonder if the three girls are also ta’veren, though less powerful than the lads, because they are deeply connected to the outcome of the Last Battle. Alternatively, we might see the White Tower choose her because she is young and could be seen as easily manipulated by the more experienced sisters. In that case, her friendship with Rand would be something that they would expect to be able to exploit, although I doubt that Egwene will be anyone’s puppet ever again after her experiences with the Seanchan.

3. Mat seems fairly nifty with a quarterstaff, even when he is half dead. Did his defeat of Galad and Gawyn seem to be based upon his skill, rather than luck, and did you find it convincing?

I really liked this scene, because it showed the characters of the three young men so well. However, it was a little sad that there were so many women, including Aes Sedai, drooling over Galad’s hot abs! :D

I got the impression that it was pure skill and talent that won the day in this case, especially as Mat did not surprise himself with his own performance. We also have the comment by the training warder about the famous warrior being defeated by a farmer with a quarterstaff, so it obviously did not surprise him in the slightest.

I find it very interesting that Mat is channeling some inner Manetheren soldier(s). We have seen this occurring more frequently throughout the series and I am not sure quite what it means. Perhaps he is an ancient warrior reborn, just as Rand is, but it will be interesting to find out.

4. It seems that the realm of Dreams, Tel'aran'rhiod, is very important to the Black Ajah because they have stolen many ter'angreals that were thought to be associated with Dreaming or Corianin Sedai. Why do you think they are so interested in Dreaming? 

I was rather surprised by this turn of events. At first glance, Dreaming does not seem like such a powerful skill to use. However, I wonder if it can be used for spying: Egwene’s visit to the Stone of Tear certainly seems real enough. This would make it invaluable as a way to gather information. I can also imagine that it is helpful in maintaining contact between individuals over large distances: I wonder if that is how the Darkfriends could all meet together in the Prologue to The Great Hunt. I have to assume that Liandrin is not the head of the Black Ajah, so she would need to report to her superiors in some way, and this could be a simple solution to that problem.

5. Now that we know that Else was definitely an impostor, it seems that Lanfear has more than one set of tactics. Do you think that she might also be the true identity of Silvie, the old woman that Egwene encounters in her Dream of the Stone of Tear and are you surprised by the way in which she approaches women? 

I seem to keep repeating myself, but when is Lanfear going to get her just desserts???

I have no doubt that she was also Silvie, keeping an eye on Rand as he made his nightly pilgrimage to gaze at Callandor in his dreams. This suggests that he is resisting her attempts to control him, so she has resorted to simply keeping watch over his progress until the time is right to try again. Am I the only one who finds this really rather creepy?

I like the way that Lanfear is more cunning in her attempts to manipulate women, although I do think that she underestimates the men that she tries to dominate, as we saw with Mat. She uses a simple disguise, as with Else, but also assumes shapes that will elicit sympathy from the supposedly vain young women that she wants to control. I was rather surprised that she allowed Egwene to catch her in her true shape, assuming that she is not actually a wrinkled old crone like Silvie . . . (please let it be so, please let it be so!)

6. We know that the Black Ajah 'evidence' is a trap set by Lanfear. Do you think their plan to spring the trap intentionally will work or will it lead them into some other trouble?

I am confused by this plot point. I cannot work out why Lanfear would need to get them to Tear in order to trap them: she could do it right there in the White Tower. I can only assume that the Black Ajah are going to Tear, probably in order to capture Rand, and she is actually hoping to use the girls as a way to disrupt their plans. This makes a lot more sense strategically, especially as I get the impression that Lanfear does not cooperate with the other Forsaken: she works towards only her own goals and nobody else’s.

As we know that Lanfear has no interest in anybody’s welfare but her own, I imagine that she is unconcerned about whether or not the girls will survive this trap. At the moment they seem to be wildly optimistic about their ability to withstand an attack by thirteen fully trained Aes Sedai. I know that they are amongst the strongest living channellers, but I have a horrible feeling that this will not end well.

7. Suddenly, Mat has been revealed as a gambler with incredible luck. Does this fit with the young man that we met in the first two books and did you detect any unusual luck before his Healing in the White Tower?

I found this rather surprising, as I did not get the impression of him being terribly lucky in the previous volumes in the series. Indeed, I would have said that he seemed to have fairly bad luck because his schemes went wrong so frequently. I know that we have only just started to get inside his head, but I feel a distinct disconnect from my earlier impressions of the lad.

I look forward to seeing if you all agree with me!



    Will be around after farm chores to chit chat over tea and crackers.

  2. Some very perceptive answers here. I'm fairly certain you're right on the Black Ajah's motivations for T'A'R. Hopefully the good guys realize the inherent advantages of the place, too.

    Possible reasons for Lanfear to send the girls to Tear? It has been speculated that she intends to draw Rand using the girls as bait, and to draw the girls using Liandrin as bait. Or, she's just trying to interfere with other Forsaken. Silvie's comments heavily imply that one of them is after Callandor, somehow. ("He wouldn't like seeing us here" or something along those lines.) This kind of complicated setup is common in WoT, but I'm not sure we ever find out what her real idea is.

    I agree that the girls seem to be way over-confident.

    My answers are over at Musings of Fantasia.

    1. Thank you! :)

      We tend to forget about the problems of long-distance communication because we take it for granted these days, but trying to coordinate the Black Ajah must be a real nightmare!

  3. I agree that Verin withholding that info is fishy. I really want her to be good guy team, but I fear that she is bad guy team. Or perhaps this is her way to assert power over Egwene, as knowledge = power in her little world.

    I like the idea of Manetheren warriors coming back at a time of great need, and through the man who blew the Horn. Perhaps the two are connected, perhaps not.

    Once again, I feel like Egwene, Nynaeve, and Elayne are being lead by the nose by the Dark Friends. What is that saying: Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.

    1. Yep: I really want to trust Verin, but she is making it so very difficult to do that. She seems even more tricksy than the other Aes Sedai, and that is saying something!

      I was really hoping that the Amyrlin would knock some sense into the girls, because they are far to happy to charge off into the unknown right now.

  4. In response to #4... The beginning of TGH always seemed to me to be someone (Ishamael or Ba'alzamon), or possibly several of the Forsaken working in tandem, drawing the mass of Darkfriends into Tel'Aran'Rhoid. I am trying not to spoil, I would add another possible explanation... But that would require knowledge not given yet to put into full context...

    1. Tel'aran'rhiod is such a neat answer to so many of the problems that everyone faces in this world because of distance. I get the feeling that we will be seeing much more of it and I look forward to discovering its full potential.


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