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 36.
1. Wow, Fain seems to have taken crazy to a whole new level. What on earth could he want with a Myrdraal?
That was a bit of a shock: I expected Fain to be torturing one of the captives from Emond’s Field, against Bornhald’s wishes, or perhaps one of the Travelling People, but not a Fade. This adds a whole extra layer of complication to things, because it suggests that Fain is no longer acting for the Dark One. It would seem that he has his own agenda to punish Rand and regain Mat’s knife. I am not sure why, but either the Dark One himself or one of the Forsaken does not want Fain to succeed and has sent the Fades and Trollocs to stop him.
This is certainly strange, as it seems that Fain is ordering the Trolloc attacks on the patrols that Bornhald leads personally. However, we have seen Trollocs and Fades used against one another by opposing forces before, so we know that it is certainly a possibility. Of course, it is also possible that Fain is torturing the Fade to make it work against its orders and do his bidding. Whatever his motivation, Fain’s ability to terrify a Fade makes him into a much more dangerous adversary than we had previously thought . . . and that is not good.
2. Lord Luc, selfless heroic noble with only the best interests of the locals at heart. Or so he would have you think - Perrin doesn't appear to agree. What do you make of this bloke?
I agree with Perrin’s gut instinct that this guy is a fraud. While some of his suggestions appear to be sensible, I do not think that they would be very much use in practice. He appears to be someone with a small amount of tactical knowledge and a very high opinion of himself, but little else to offer. He is also very wary of Perrin, which makes me extra suspicious, as does his appearance at roughly the same time as the Whitecloaks, Fain and the Shadowspawn. I know that it might just be a coincidence, but that seems very, very unlikely. As with Fain, I am not sure what his agenda is, but I am sure that he is not a good guy.
3. We finally learn about the Aiel side of Rand's parentage. Was this about what you expected? Who might Shaiel have been? (If you have been paying attention, you should be able to work out who Rand's half brother is.)
It sounds as if Rand’s mother is Tigraine, the Daughter-Heir before Morgase took the throne of Andor. Several people have commented upon his similarity to her and we know that her disappearance allowed Morgase to claim the Lion Throne, so the timing is right. Morgase married Taringail Damodred, Tigraine’s abandoned husband and he is the father of her children, Gawyn and Elayne. He is also the father of Galad, by Tigraine, which makes him Rand’s half-brother.
I find it interesting that Tigraine was the subject of a Foretelling that led her into the Aiel Waste to become a Maiden of the Spear. So many tiny steps have led to Rand being born in exactly the right circumstances, that it is incredible that he was ever conceived. If this does not convince readers of the lack of coincidence in this story, then I do not know what will.
At least we know that Elayne is not Rand’s half-sister, which would have been rather unfortunate for their budding romance.
4. Egwene is caught red handed in T'A'R without supervision. What do you think of Amys' reaction?
I like the way that Amys and the Wise Ones manipulate their trainees by using disappointment rather than physical punishment, as we would see in Tar Valon. This fits beautifully with the Aiel mind-set, but is also a much more powerful motivator, in my experience, because it removes the opportunity for rebellion and the student’s self-delusion that the teacher is not being fair. I love the way that Egwene is punished in subtle ways, such as by making her appear childish: the Aes Sedai have a lot to learn about discipline strategies! :D
5. So we might see a bit of Aviendha/Rand interaction coming up. Teacher, student, spy and spyee. What do you expect from these two? Is Aviendha acting a bit... odd? (Even for Aiel.)
It seems as if Aviendha is conflicted about Rand for some reason. She is adamant that he is Elayne’s and she has promised to keep other women away from him. However, she is very angry with him for something that we have not seen, so I can only assume that it is something she saw in the Ter’angreal in Rhuidean. Perhaps she saw that Elayne would have to share Rand with Min, as has already been hinted. However, Min saw herself sharing him with two other women, so perhaps we have found the third in Aviendha: if she saw this in the ter’angreal it would explain why she is so angry, because she has to protect Rand from herself.
6. "We ride with evil, now" Rand claims. What do you think he means? Could this somehow be part of his plan?
OK, this might seem like a really wild shot, but I think the strange woman in white travelling with the peddlers is actually Lanfear. Perhaps I am simply seeing her evil influence everywhere, but Rand notices that her voice sounds familiar and does not fit her appearance, which would be true if I am right. It seems clear that the leader, Hadnan is a Darkfriend at the very least and yet he submits to her with no argument, which suggests that she must be very powerful.
I have no idea how Rand intends to use the peddlers in his plan, but it will certainly be a surprise for everyone!
I am having real trouble sticking to the schedule because I don’t want to stop reading each week! :D