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 the questions were posed by Elvind and the links to the other posts can be found at Dab of Darkness.
This week we read through to the end of the book.
We are moving straight on to the next book in the series: The Fire of Heaven, and you can find the schedule here, also at Dab of Darkness.
1. Seems like Rand is not the only one who can stand toe-to-toe against a forsaken. Surprised? Could there be others, and if so, who?
We have been told many times that Nynaeve is so much more powerful than any other Aes Sedai alive that it was not a massive surprise that she might be capable of such a feat. Whether or not any of our other lead characters could do the same thing depends a great deal upon how strong Moghedien is in relation to the other Forsaken. If she is one of the strongest, then it seems a good bet that Elayne and Egwene could also handle themselves in a duel, but if she is relatively weak then I hope that they do not even try.
Of course, the good guys have a massive advantage in the mentality of the Forsaken. All of them are very arrogant and complacent, believing themselves to be indestructible and invincible, and this leads them to be over confident when they confront the modern channelers. We have seen this in their dealings with Rand, but this duel showed how Moghedien was trapped by her own lack of caution. The fact that she is renowned for being hesitant to confront anyone makes this all the more deliciously ironic.
One other person that I think will confound the Forsaken is Mat. We know that he asked to be ‘immune’ to the Aes Sedai and received his curious medallion. I wonder if it will block channeling of all kinds, not just those of women. This would place him at a massive advantage as the Forsaken view non-channelers as powerless. I look forward to the first one trying to attack him and having the power simply dissolve or bounce off him. While they are standing with their mouth hanging open he will have plenty of time to stick his sword/spear somewhere rather important.
2. What went on between Elayne and Amathera? Should she lay off the forceful reeducation of foreign monarchs or just keep at it, you think?
I can understand why Elayne, who has been raised to be a good and just Queen, would be very angry with a person who wants to abuse her power and does not care about the common folk. I was rather proud of her attitude towards the people and it gives me hope for this world if some of the monarchs actually care about the wellbeing of their subjects. I am not quite sure what she did to Amathera, but I suspect that she simply channeled her inner Nynaeve and applied some of the lessons that she received from her mother or the infamous nurse, Lini. By the way, I really hope that we get to meet Lini at some point, because she sounds awesome.
3. So we have our first "proper" battle, of many more to come no doubt. Please air your thoughts here, since I can't find anywhere to put a question mark.
Although I had little doubt that Perrin would survive the battle, I was still given a real sense of hopelessness and desperation as the villagers were almost overwhelmed by the vast numbers of Shadowspawn. I thought the decision to include the women in the battle was a great choice. It makes perfect sense to me that the women that we have met, like Mistress al’Vere, Mistress Luhhan and Daise Congar, would not simply hide behind their curtains whilst their men died. I also thought that mentioning the provision for the children, including having a plan for them to run and hide in the forest, was not only very poignant but also added to the realism of the account. Simple touches like this, and the point last week when the women were hiding the fact that they were on half rations, draw us into respecting and admiring these common folk so much more. I particularly appreciated the mention of the Travelling People carrying the youngest children and babies and willing to risk their lives to carry them away if the village was overrun.
I thought the dying man that staggered into the village in last week’s reading was a good indication that reinforcements were coming from somewhere, but that did not mean that they would arrive in time. The same was true of Faile and the men that she brought to the fight: I had no doubt that they would appear, but I was concerned that they might be too late to stop a massacre. I had hoped that a pack of wolves would appear to help out, but I guess that Slayer’s actions have removed all of them in the surrounding area.
Also, I have to thank Elvind for allowing me to see the significance of the Shadowspawn shouting “Isam!” as they run into battle.
4. Could these whitecloaks be any more pathetic if they tried? REALLY HARD?
I doubt it. I have a fairly low and cynical opinion of organized religion, so I cannot say that I was surprised by their lack of action in this case. However, I would have liked to see some dissent in the ranks about sitting back and allowing the villagers to fight alone or at least some dissatisfaction with Bornhald’s decision. It seems like he has ‘lost the plot’ so to speak and I was amazed that he actually thought that Perrin would honor their agreement when he had ignored it. I predict an alcohol-soaked and sad ending for him.
How creepy and Gollumesque was Fain at the end of this chapter? I hope they cast Andy Serkis as him in the adaptation!
5. So now (or soon enough) EVERY Aiel knows their history, and many are none too pleased. Was this the right call? How much support has Rand lost now?
I was very surprised by this turn of events, although I can understand why Rand decided to do it: it was the only way to convince the clan chiefs that he was the real Dragon Reborn. However, I can see that many Aiel will be very unhappy about the truth and this will lose him many supporters. I just hope that the number is not as severe as the percentage of men who fail to return from Rhuidean when trying to become clan chief. We saw the reaction of Couladin’s brother, Muradin, to the knowledge and I really hope that we do not see such extreme behavior in too many of the Aiel. I suspect that many Aiel will see their present lifestyle as a massive insult to ji’e’toh and will give up their weapons, choosing to become gai’shain in order to repay their debt.
There was some suggestion last week that Sevanna was not a nice person: it seems that she and Couladin were made for one another.
6. With the massive sa'angreal access keys in hand, shouldn't Rand be able to just steamroll through the next 10 books? Do you think he has a use in mind for them?
If he could simply use the sa’angreal, defeat the Dark One and go home for tea then I doubt that there would BE ten more books. I doubt that he has any idea what to do with it just yet, but at least it is safe from Forsaken hands at the moment, which is surely half the battle.
7. Asmodean... teaching Rand? On a scale from Kim Kardashian to Stephen
Hawking, how good of an idea is this, really?
I am going to go out on a limb here and say that this is a really good thing.
So far, we have see Rand manage to defeat Forsaken and Shadowspawn through pure luck and instinct, with a dash of Lews Therin Telamon’s subconscious memories thrown in. This time he was aided massively by Lanfear, who is a giant bag of crazy and totally unreliable, so he needs to learn how to really use his power. I do not remember which character said it, but he can only truly learn from a male Aes Sedai and at the moment that means one of the Forsaken. This does not mean that it will be a safe thing to do, but I hope that Asmodean’s sense of self-preservation will help to make it a productive relationship.
It was good to see Rand being more proactive and aware of the Forsaken in the peddler caravan. This bodes well for the future and shows us that he is becoming more astute. I was vindicated in my belief that Lanfear was disguised as Keille, but I had already concluded that Kadere was a little too obvious to be one of the Forsaken and we had noticed that there something not quite ‘right’ about Natael. I am afraid that I am a rather nasty person because I did snigger when Lanfear revealed her revenge on Isendre, which was surprisingly subtle for our favorite crazy lady Forsaken.
And so we reach the end of Book 4 and I am really enjoying this series. In fact I find it difficult to stop reading at the end of each section because I am so involved with the story and just want to keep on going to find out what happens next. However, I am really happy that we are doing this Read Along as it gives me the chance to digest the events each week before dashing on. I truly appreciate the extra depth that this allows me to discover, as does the perspective of my fellow readers.
Thank you all, and I hope that we can maintain the momentum! :)