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 Musings On Fantasia.
This week we read through to the end of Chapter 23.
1) Perrin and Co. are on their way. He thinks he's headed to his death. What kind of reception do you think he'll find in the Two Rivers? How long will he and Faile's stubborn, silent treatment of one another last? (Bonus question: Moiraine made a brief reference to secrets Faile is keeping from Perrin. What do you think they might be?)
I imagine that many of the people in the Two Rivers will be pleased to see Perrin and learn that the others are still alive and in one piece, more or less. However, I have to assume that the Whitecloaks have been quite free in telling everyone that he is the reason that they are in the area, so I am quite sure that some people will blame him for all the trouble that they are having, especially the Congars and Coplins. I would also expect everyone to have a very hard time accepting that Rand is the Dragon Reborn, although it will be interesting to see if Tam tells the truth of how he found him as a baby.
I expect Faile and Perrin to remain at loggerheads until there is some kind of threat that brings them together again. Poor Perrin, I cannot imagine that he will ever have an easy life with Faile because she is so prickly, but perhaps he will eventually tame her, just as Lan seems to be molding Nynaeve a little.
I am very intrigued by the idea that there is something important about Faile that she has not told Perrin. She seems to be of high or noble birth, but I doubt that she is a princess or equivalent because she took the oath as a Hunter for the Horn. I can only hope that she is not the Daughter of the Nine Moons, who Mat is supposed to marry! :D
2) What do you think of the Seafolk and their strange clothing customs? Were you surprised to find hidden Channelers among them?
I can see how clothing above the waist could get caught in rigging or be a nuisance whilst you are dashing about. However, I do feel some sympathy for the older women and those with larger ‘assets’ as this could be rather uncomfortable for them. I was rather surprised by the prudish response from Elayne and Nynaeve, although I guess that their problem is not so much with the nakedness but the setting: seeing women bare-chested is rather different when there are all those men about, even if there is no staring going on! I felt sorry for poor Juilin Sandar, trying not to die of embarrassment, but Thom seemed to be coping quite well, the old letch! :D
As I think I have said before, I do like the way that the different races and cultures in this world are markedly different from one another. This not only makes the world more interesting, but it helps to create a sense of age and size. It has taken a long time for these different traditions to grow into such different cultures and the world must be reasonably large for the societies to remain so isolated and secret from one another. Of course, the best examples of this are the Seanchan and Aiel, but all the diversity makes me feel as if the world is very real. It is also great to see a culture that places women into traditionally male roles, even calling their ships ‘he’. I wonder if this tradition also applies to other aspects of their culture, or is restricted to the ships. I am also curious to know if it could derive from the importance of the female channelers to the survival of their culture.
It is good to see the limits of the White Tower’s knowledge of the world and its people: they are so self confident and yet they are truly ignorant of so many things that are not that far away from them, such as the secret about the Windcallers. It makes perfect sense that sea-going folk would use channelers who specialize in manipulating the weather, and we have already seen Aes Sedai aiding river vessels by creating a suitable wind for them, so I was not really surprised. I also thought the comment about her looking strangely young was a big clue. I like the idea that the Sea Folk send a few girls to Tar Valon in order to prevent any close attention from the sisters: they seem like a very sensible people.
3) Rand dealt, after a fashion, with the Tairen High Lords, extra export inventory, famines in other lands, Callandor, and a few other things all in one fell swoop. How do you think he did?
Well, I am totally sure that not a single one of the High Lords had expected those actions, so he was completely successful in surprising them. He did seem to manipulate them quite ruthlessly, presumably using Thom’s advice. However, these people seem to be totally untrustworthy, so I do not expect them to exactly what he has ordered. I am quite sure that, once they get over the shock, they will be reinterpreting his order for their own benefit. For example, I can imagine that the preparations for their army to set out could take an extended amount of time, as they will be in no rush to get going.
4) Into the Waste. Do you think Rand was wise to use the Portal stones again? What are your first impressions of Rhuidean and the Aiel homeland?
I suspect that things could have gone horribly wrong when Rand used the stones; although it would have made the series a whole lot shorter so I was not really worried that they would all end up inside out or dead. As with his treatment of the High Lords, this would certainly have been a massive surprise to those following his movements. It would also make it very difficult for anyone to follow or track him, which will keep everyone guessing until rumors of his arrival in the Waste spread.
The Waste just keeps making me think of Dune and the Fremen, although the blatant use of water for cooling purposes would be sacrilege to them. Again we have a society with women given a significant role in roles of leadership and authority, which seems perfectly sensible to me. I note that none of the societies so far are female-dominated as far as I can tell, apart from the White Tower, which is even better as far as I am concerned, because it shows a true understanding of how men and women can share authority without one group dominating the other.
Rhuidean seems very ancient and mysterious. I am rather concerned about what they will all find once they enter the city and what is causing all that mist / cloud. I was a little confused about why the men got to keep their clothes on whilst the women had to be naked, although this is consistent with the Accepted testing so I have to assume that it something to do with the ter’angreals being used.
5) Couladin sure seems to be looking for trouble. What kind of role do you foresee him having in the story?
He is going to be a major pain in everyone’s posteriors. He seems unusually volatile and emotional compared to the other Aiel that we have met and also more concerned with his entitlements than in the ways of honor and duty that drive the others.
I predict that he will cause immense trouble before someone finally puts him down.
6) The instant they hit the slopes above Rhuidean, there's lots going on. Aviendha can channel, both Moiraine and Mat end up going to Rhuidean, and the Wise Ones accuse the Tower of coddling its trainees. What kind of learning experience do you think Egwene is in for in the Waste?
I thought it was pretty obvious that Aviendha was being summoned to begin her training as a Wise One, which suggested that she could most likely channel. I also seem to remember there being a hint earlier that she could see the glow when a woman held saidar, but I cannot pin point it exactly. I find it refreshing that being able to channel is not a requirement for becoming a Wise One, so I wonder what other things qualify a woman to begin the training.
I have a strange feeling that Egwene will very shortly wish that she had never come to Rhuidean because the training is going to be horrific. The Waste is obviously a very difficult place to live and so the Aiel must be strong and resilient to survive there. Egwene is going to find out how truly soft she is.
I meant to mention this last week, but forgot! How cool was the image of Loial protecting a room full of children and nursing women from the trollocs? He is such an adorable hero!