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 links to the other posts can be found at Dab of Darkness.
This week we read through to the end of Chapter 24.
1. The menagerie reads like a sitcom on wheels. What are your impressions? Will Cerandin play a role? Do you recognise someone else we haven't seen for a while?
Having worked in a theatre for some time I am fairly familiar with the ‘artistic’ types that are attracted to the performing arts. Am I awful because I thought the fight between Nynaeve and Latelle, the bear trainer, was hilarious? I visualized it as something similar to the epic battles between Hugh Grant and Colin Firth in Bridget Jones’ Diary! :D
I am not sure if Cerandin will play a much larger role in the story, especially as she has three rather large animals in tow. However, it is good to see that even more Seanchan are actually reasonably normal people and she will be a good source of information and will let the girls deepen their understanding of her culture. Any information that will allow Rand to avoid open conflict with the Seanchan is good: he will need them as an ally for the Last Battle.
I do not remember if her name is mentioned, but I assume that the Illuminator is Aludra, which makes the third time we have encountered her now. The fact that she keeps popping up makes me very suspicious that she will have an important role to play later on in our story. We know that Rand was responsible for her losing her place in the Illuminator’s Guild and that she has already helped Mat and Thom, so it seems that the Pattern has found a use for her expertise. Coincidence is not something to be overlooked in this world.
2. Moghedien recruits the rogue Black Ajah. Speculations on the orders they were given? Just how much danger is Nynaeve and Elayne in, now?
I think most of the orders will be to try and uncover intelligence about Nynaeve’s whereabouts. I am not sure if she selected only one Sister from each Ajah, but perhaps she wanted them to tap into the eyes and ears networks for each one to collect as much information as possible. However, Moghedien is very subtle and devious so I would imagine that each of them has a task that seems to have no relevance to anything obvious.
Oh yes, they are in much more danger now that the Blacks have been taken in hand. Up until now they have seemed rather ineffectual and sad in their attempts to rule the world, but Moghedien has set them all on a single course and she will have no compunction in using them to get what she wants.
I am such a bad person: I was giggling in delight whist Liandrin was being Compelled . . . I feel really bad about that . . . not! :D
3. Morgase finally escapes Gaebril, with some other old friends returning to the story. Will she ever be back in power? Was Lini as expected?
Yay, Morgase! This was a long time in coming, but it was great to see her inner stubbornness break through at long last. I was also pleased that she had some loyal people to rely upon. Although I suspect that Martyn Tallanvor is motivated a lot by his love for Morgase as a woman, which might prove very awkward later on if she does not feel the same way, they do seem like an honest bunch. I particularly liked Lamgwin’s woman, Breane: I hope that her lack of awe for Morgase will be useful in teaching the ex-Queen how to behave like a normal person.
At the moment, it looks very unlikely that Morgase will ever sit on the Lion Throne again. However, this is a very long series and we know that Perrin will probably support her claim against Gaebril, especially when the Forsaken’s true identity is revealed. I suspect that the Two Rivers folk will form the core of Morgase’s new army and Gaebril may find it difficult to maintain control once he faces an organized, and legitimate opposition.
Forget Bella: Lini is the Creator in disguise! She was even more gloriously grumpy and pragmatic than I had ever imagined. I love her sayings and her no-nonsense attitude to the women placed in her keeping. I was delighted to learn that she fully intended to take on Elayne’s children . . . and I am sure that she has strong opinions about how soon they should be appearing! I think she epitomizes the word ‘indomitable’ and could give most Aes Sedai a challenge in a battle of wills – I hope we get to see her giving Elaida a piece of her mind! :D
4. Rand seems to be having a brewing identity crisis. Is this a manifestation of the madness, genuine memories from a past life surfacing, or maybe both? Do you think his insistence on being himself only will work?
I would be much more worried if we had not seen something similar happening to Mat. However, Mat seems to be aware of a whole succession of past lives since his encounter with the Fox People. In contrast, Rand has only one other set of memories: those of Lews Therin Telamon. I can understand why Rand is scared of these memories invading his own thoughts because he knows that all male channelers will eventually go mad. This is a perfect example of a situation that could be made a whole lot easier if he would have a nice long chat with Mat so that they could share notes about their experiences. I guess that such a conversation will not happen soon, unfortunately, as it would remove a lot of angst from the story and make Rand’s life much simpler.
If I am correct, and it is simply Lews’ personality coming through, then it will happen no matter what Rand does. However, I can understand why he would want to try to remain in control, as he probably fears vanishing as the Lews personality gets stronger.
5. The Rand-Aviendha plot seems about ready to explode, don't you think? Is there a resolution in sight?
I think the inevitable will happen pretty soon, but that there will need to be a triggering event of some kind. Both of them are trying very hard to resist the path that the Pattern has laid out for them, but they will snap at some point . . .
6. Our heroes turn back another attack out of nowhere seemingly doomed to fail. Moiraine says not to think the Forsaken simple, but I'm having a hard time not to. Thoughts?
If Aviendha had not been sleeping in Rand’s tent the attack could have very well succeeded, so I have to agree with Moiraine. Although they often have an overinflated opinion of themselves and no connection to the real world, (*cough* Lanfear *cough*), they are still very powerful and one false move, one stray arrow could be all that is needed to remove Rand from the Pattern. I am not sure if this attack was actually orchestrated by Sammael, although his hatred of Lew Therin Telamon could possibly make him order his troops to shout his name as they ran onto Aiel spears. However, I think it is more likely that this was someone’s attempt to get Aviendha out of his tent and permanently dead (I refer you to my earlier coughing fit).
I loved the use of familiar birdcalls from his childhood as the attack signals. This is such a small detail and yet it says so much about Rand and how he thinks.
Can someone PLEASE kill Couladin ASAP? The man is a terrible blot on the Aiel’s sense of honor and a truly terrible person as well.
If Lini is not the Creator in disguise, then I think Sorilea might just claim that place. I loved the descriptions of her stare having the same power as a nuclear strike: it is wonderful to see these amazingly strong old ladies pushing everyone around! :D