Sunday, September 15, 2013

The Fires of Heaven by Robert Jordan: Week 6

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 Musings on Fantasia.

This week we read through to the end of Chapter 39.

1) The first thing we see in this section indirectly, more cat fights between Nynaeve and Cerandin. Nynaeve ends up with a black eye. So, Wheel of Time death match! Who wins?

That depends on whether or not Nynaeve decides to channel. No channeling means that Cerandin bounces our girl around like Hulk does with Loki in The Avengers. However, if Nynaeve lets rip with the One Power, the Seanchan would have no chance at all.

I am amazed and surprised that Nynaeve manages to control her temper in these scenes, but she does seem to be mellowing quite a lot. Either that or she is pining for Lan . . .  

2) Elayne believes she can make a'dam and other objects of the One Power. Do you think this is a good idea? What do you think she'll do with this ability?

As a scientist, I am a firm believer that no knowledge is inherently evil, so Elayne’s ability is something that I would advise her to pursue. By understanding how the a’dam is made, she may be able to ‘unmake’ them or even modify them to alter their purpose. I wonder if she can also copy the ring that allows them to enter Tel’aran’rhiod, which could prove very useful indeed.

I also wonder if she can use her ability to ‘read’ the use of the many angreal in the Tower and on the road from the Waste. She could discover many useful objects that could be used safely by other Aes Sedai, male and female, rather than being left untouched. This might add a considerable resource to Rand’s forces.

3) Nynaeve and Brigitte eavesdrop on a meeting of Forsaken, where they hear talk of linking. What do you think these arrogant baddies are planning?

It sounds as if they are hoping to trap Rand when he attacks Sammael (he of the Golden Bees). We know that Aes Sedai can link their power together to wield much more power than a single individual can manage, so several Forsaken linked together could hope to overpower Rand. However, they will need to trust each other to do this and I doubt that they will do this happily, so their planning might backfire on them.

4) Brigitte is ripped from T'A'R and into the human world. What do you think of her as a mortal? Do you think she'll find Gaidal Kane, even though she wasn't spun out as she ought to have been? What did you think of Elayne's solution to save Brigitte's life?

That was a bit of a surprise!

Birgitte has always come across as a very practical and earthy person, and we see the same personality now that she is mortal. I really loved the way that she was angry with Nynaeve because she was trying to take all the blame for Birgitte’s behavior in Tel’aran’rhiod. Her obvious grief at possibly being unable to connect with Gaidal was much more moving because she did not wallow in her misery. Instead, she showed that she is a very courageous person who has gained a great deal of wisdom from her many lives.

I do not know if she will find Gaidal, although her new ‘life’ may be cut short at any moment so she could be back in Tel’aran’rhiod fairly soon and waiting to be spun out again. I wonder if she will still be able to answer the Horn if she is already alive . . .

I was surprised by Elayne’s solution, but it certainly worked. We saw Nynaeve trying to almost cure ‘death’ and failing, so there was really no other alternative. It makes sense that women could be Warders if they are skillful enough and I wonder if male Aes Sedai regularly took female Warders. Of course, we do not know if the Aes Sedai in the Age of Legends habitually had Warders: this could be something that became traditionally after the Breaking of the World when the level of danger was so much higher.

5) Nynaeve is not acting much like herself. What do you think of her reaction to Brigitte's plight? How about being talked into being a human target and wearing revealing clothes?

I am beginning to wonder if Nynaeve has been hit on the head or replaced by a pod person because she is most definitely not her usual spiky self! :D

For someone who is so critical and judgmental, I can understand why she has had this reaction to Birgitte’s ‘death’. For all that she is harsh to others who make mistakes, she is doubly harsh to herself and she feels totally responsible in this case. Of course, as Birgitte points out, this is a form of selfishness as Nynaeve is hogging all the responsibility and denying anyone else the right to carry any blame. I love this about the writing, because it is so human. Nynaeve reacts like a real person, not some perfect fantasy of a character. Her lack of perfection makes her much more interesting and believable and makes me care for her much more deeply.

I am impressed that she is finally admitting that other people can have good ideas, even if she goes along with them with exceptionally bad grace. It makes perfect sense that they must all try to do something to earn their passage with the Menagerie if they do not want everyone talking about them and being suspicious. I think the dress is something that she secretly enjoys wearing, although she would prefer that only Lan see her in it! :D

6) Liandrin is not having such a great day. Are you surprised about where she's ended up? Where do you think she'll go from here?

I have to admit to being a very bad person because I laughed with delight when Moghedien was torturing Liandrin. I had a big evil grin on my face for ages after reading that section.

Hopefully, she will continue to make stupid mistakes and try to work against Moghedien again in the future. I look forward to reading the further sessions of torture and humiliation with great enthusiasm.

Please try not to judge me too harshly!

7) We finally learn the identity of the Prophet, and he's someone we've seen before. Were you surprised? What do you think of his new-found faith?

I was surprised when the Prophet’s identity was revealed because his attitude to Rand was always so dismissive during the journey to Falme. However, they always say that Love and Hate are very similar, so it makes some sense that he would switch from one to the other after witnessing Rand’s awe-inspiring fight in the sky.

I am always cautious of religious fervor because it can be applied in such a black and white way. Life is made up of a messy field of grey, so trying to deal with it as anything else leaves you wide open to doing Evil in the name of Good. I am especially cynical of any person who sets themselves up as the ultimate arbiter of what is Right and Wrong – humans are almost all selfish and so they are naturally biased towards believing that they alone are correct about everything. We see that in Masema’s highly impractical call for everyone to give up their lives and follow his call to rally to the Dragon. At the most simplistic, these people will eventually starve to death if they no longer cultivate their own food.

As we see with the Whitecloaks, it seems that Mr Jordan has a dislike for organized religion. In both groups we see the self-righteous condemning those who do not share their beliefs as being Evil and persecuting them in a counterproductive way.


  1. I agree that all knowledge is good, and the a'dam should be studied. I'd draw the line at actually making more, unless they can figure out how to destroy them. Enslavement devices can always potentially fall into the hands of people who will actually use them. Don't feel bad about Liandrin. I think everyone is at least a little bit happy about that. :D

    1. I know what you mean about making more a'dam - it seems like a bad idea, although she might be able to modify them somehow that could be useful. I have to admit that I can't imagine what that might be, though! :D

  2. "Of course, we do not know if the Aes Sedai in the Age of Legends habitually had Warders"

    They didn't, in fact they didn't know how. It's the only example of something that the current Aes Sedai can do that they didn't know about back then.

    1. Interesting. I assume it is a form of Linking, but I imagine that the first Warder link was made out of desperation or to prevent a death as we see with Birgitte.

  3. I agree with you on the pursuit of knowledge, even with a'dam. However, I worry that Elayne may be forced to use her knowledge to evil ends - it's not like she's currently safe and snug at the White home in her Rand's a rock submerged in a lake with a big bubble of air.

    I think Birgitte will be great for Nyneave - practical, strong, humorous - and immensely entertaining for us readers.

    Poor Nynaeve has had some hard knocks lately. How many traps did she lead folks into lately? Then she blames herself for the injury to Birgitte. She's probably having to rethink her hard-nosed 'life will simply have to adjust for me' attitude. She's done so much good in the past with that attitude because she is a good person, but lately, not working so well.

    I like your thoughts on Q.7. 'A messy field of grey' indeed.

    1. I doubt that Elayne is going to be anywhere even remotely 'safe' until the end of the last book.

      I think you are right about Nynaeve's change of attitude. She has finally come to realize that she is not always right and that she often creates problems when they should be avoided, so she is having a massive crisis of confidence. At the moment she is paralyzed by indecision and guilt, but she will finally come to terms with her new situation and learn to cope (I hope). I also agree that she IS a good person, but she is somewhat brittle and unable to change rapidly enough with her circumstances. Poor love, she just needs Lan to give her a big 'hug'! :D


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