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 you can find links to everyone else’s thoughts at Dab of Darkness.
This week we read through to the end of Chapter 17.
1) Egwene dives back into Tel'aran'rhiod to investigate Tanchico and comes out with an Aiel Wise Woman's contact info. Egwene kicks herself for not having the knowledge and skill to interpret her dreams. Have you ever given dream interpretation a shot? Do you think Egwene's plans to train and pass that on to Nynaeve and Elayne will work out as she plans?
Dream interpretation is not something that I have ever tried and I have never had a dream that was in any way prophetic. I guess it would be interesting to know what all the randomness in my dreams actually mean, but I have a suspicion that they are mostly just an assortment of highlights from the day’s thinking.
I think Egwene is being somewhat optimistic in thinking that she can pass on her learning easily. I imagine that you need to have you someone to travel with you at first and show you how to do things, just like Hopper does with Perrin. Perhaps she will be able to do this for the others, but I do worry that they are all very confidant in their ability to handle their powers without people getting hurt.
2) Robert Jordan loves setting up the battle of the sexes, doesn't he? In this section we see that Perrin and Faile are having a contest of wills. Rand versus the Aes Sedai (Moiraine in particular). Thom versus Moiraine. Even Min! What do you think of Jordan's use of this?
I think that this is a product of him including some very strong-willed women in his character list and so I rather like seeing the girls hold their own against the lads. We talked a little last week about his ability to write female characters that are strong and yet still seem realistic, which I very much appreciate. I would say that he has a talent for creating believable women and it is good that he acknowledges that males and females are far more evenly matched than many people will admit.
I also like how he shows that men and women are fundamentally different in how they think about things. This leads them to react rather differently in situations, but also makes them frustrated when members of the opposite sex do things in alternative ways. Each is adamant that their way is correct and that the other person is simply being stubborn or foolish. This dynamic is not only very realistic but also as ancient as human civilization, so it is great to see it played out repeatedly in these books.
3) Mat, Perrin, and Rand finally hear about Whitecloaks in the Two Rivers. Perrin feels an obligation to return, tries to break some ties, and then finds out he won't be going alone. Were you surprised at Perrin's self-sacrificial take on this situation? Will the White Cloaks get more than they are looking for?
I was not at all surprised by Perrin’s reaction, because he is a man who wants to protect other people from harm. We see Rand, and even Mat, have similar reactions, but they are not free to travel to the Two Rivers with him and so cannot go. It seems odd, but Perrin has already discovered his special place in the war against the Dark One. Although he is very uncomfortable with his gift of the Wolf link, or whatever it is, it is obviously his destiny to lead the wolves in the Final Battle. I do not know why this role is so important, but it must be vital to Rand’s success somehow or other. He has much more to learn about his abilities, but he can learn where ever he can find wolves, or even in his dreams from Hopper, whilst Rand and Mat still have set paths that they must follow.
I am quite certain that the Whitecloaks are going to have a massive surprise in store for them when he arrives and rallies the people of the Two Rivers against them. I also expect Dain Bornhald to discover that Perrin is not the monster that he imagines and so will find it very difficult to justify the anger he feels towards him.
4) Ladies and their weapons: We saw some hand-to-hand altercations and some subtler weapons in use in this section. Who do you deem the more dangerous - Berelain or Faile?
I am not sure that I could make a prediction about which one of them would win a fight, but I suspect that Berelain might have Faile soundly beaten before getting even one scratch from a dagger. We have all seen martial arts experts fighting off hoards of angry men armed to the teeth, so I expect Berelain to be very competent.
I doubt that Faile would be happy about this.
5) Of course Mat goes through the doorway! But once he is done with his question and answer session and tossed out, he realizes he wasn't the only one seeking answers. What kind of beings do you think the folk in the doorway were? What do you think Rand and Moiraine asked and had answered?
Mat has self-control issues at the best of times and he seems incapable of trusting anyone to give him advice, so this was not really a surprise. However, even though I know that he is paranoid about Moiraine, but I would have liked to have seen him approach someone else, perhaps Lan or Thom, before risking a trip through an ancient magical relic.
I was rather surprised by the race in the other world, because they do not seem to be like any species that we have encountered before. However, I was intrigued about their fear of iron, fire and musical instruments: iron and fire are common weapons, but since when was anyone afraid of a guitar? The fear of iron seems to be a direct reference to the old traditions about fairies in folklore, but these people did not seem particularly fae.
I can only assume that both Rand and Moiraine asked for guidance about what to do next, but I bet that we will never be told precisely what they asked. As for what answers they received: who knows? Some of the things that Mat was told were kind of direct, but others were awfully vague, which is rather annoying. Although we now know that he will get a wife, even though it seems unbelievable! :D
6) Finally, Loial is back in the story. While he seems to be content as a chronicler, I do you think The Wheel will let him sit in a corner with pen and ink the entire book? What do you think of Faile's twisting his arm to visit The Ways?
I find it highly unlikely that he will be able to simply drift along in the wakes that the ta’verens create because I assume that every one of the significant characters in the series have an important part to play in the lead up to the Final Battle. At the moment I cannot imagine Loial persuading the other Ogier to take up arms against the Enemy (as the Ents do in The Two Towers), but they would certainly be an important ally because of their ability to navigate the Ways.
I was very angry with Faile for manipulating him the way she did and for making him feel so miserable. Loial is a wonderful, caring soul and he does not deserve to be treated badly just because she is angry and jealous. Fortunately, I think that Perrin will not hold Loial responsible for what has happened, but it does seem that Faile has made a mistake in pushing Perrin and may come to regret her actions. I suspect that poor Loial will blame himself for their bickering anyway, because he is just so gentle and lovely.
Way to go Lan! He really managed to get Nynaeve to shut up for once! :D