Sunday, October 6, 2013

The Fires of Heaven by Robert Jordan: Week 9

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 53.

1) How long do you think Birgitte will be able to keep her identity mostly secret? What do you think the Salidar Aes Sedai would do with Birgitte if they knew?

This might sound strange, but I think she might remain hidden for a very long time because people are not likely to think that she is THE Birgitte of legend reborn. She may look like her and shoot like her, but that does not mean that she is not just someone named after the legendary hero that she resembles. After all, we know that Min is named after a famous beauty and nobody suggests that she is that lady reborn . . .

Somehow, I think that the Aes Sedai have far more important things to be worrying about than Birgitte’s identity. I suppose one of the Browns might be interested enough to torture her with a million questions, but otherwise I think they will be much more interested in her position as Elayne’s Warder.

2) What good, if any, will come out of Siuan's and Nynaeve's agreement? Is Nynaeve smoking leave and reaching for the stars?

Min keeps seeing greatness around Logain, so the idea that Nynaeve could undo his Gentling seems to be a real possibility. This would suggest that she could also Heal the women who have been Stilled, which would be a very uncomfortable day for anyone who has done anything to upset Siuan! :D

We have already seen Nynaeve go toe to toe with one of the Forsaken and nearly win, so her strength is not in question and we know that Elayne was amazed by the Healing that she attempted on Birgitte. Elayne herself appears to be able to do something that no Aes Sedai has been able to do for centuries, so why should Nynaeve be any different? If anyone could do what is considered impossible, it will be Nynaeve – especially if she is angry enough.

3) Elayne and Min had a little heart to heart. How do you think this will affect their relationship in the future?

It seems that they have come to an understanding about sharing Rand, even though neither of them is truly happy about it. This is the one aspect of this entire series that I really struggle with, but their pragmatic acceptance of taking what they can of him is certainly less like a teenage boy’s wet dream than the arrangement would suggest. I have no idea why he is fated to have three women, but it seems that they are each capable of sharing him and the Aiel tradition of Sister-Wives will give some structure to the complex relationship. I suspect the one who has the most trouble accepting it will actually be Rand because he is so conservative and thinks he needs to marry Aviendha.

4) What do you think of Rand's latest ways of dealing with the never-ending parade of court ladies?

I actually thought it was quite funny, with him rolling his eyes and cackling away to himself on purpose. However, I think he might be walking a fine line there because he is already seen as unpredictable and dangerous, and it would take very little for the nobles to reject his control if they become too scared of him.

Somehow, I think Aviendha’s solution to the problem might be more effective! :D

5) Rand received two interesting letters from the White Tower. Should he trust either? How do you think this latest 'news' from Tar Valon will affect his actions?

I would not trust anyone in the White Tower as far as I could spit them, and very few amongst the rebel Aes Sedai in Salidar. I am very concerned that Elaida is sending a delegation to him because he is probably correct that it will contain thirteen sisters seeking to Shield him and then deliver him to Tar Valon. I do not want Elaida to get her sticky mitts on him because she will stop him in his important work of uniting the nations behind him.

He was quite right to see the letters as an indication that Tower spies were in evidence in Cairhien, so I can only assume that he will try to be less open about his intentions and movements than before. However, with a giant army to move about, it is difficult to be all that stealthy. Perhaps he will also try to use misinformation to keep the Tower off-balance.

6) Do you think Mat will be scarred for life by the death of Melindrha? What about their last encounter triggered her attack?

I think that he will be troubled by it for quite some times because it showed him how vulnerable he is to attacks by the people closest to him. I suspect that only his many lifetimes of fighting experience, and his amazing luck, saved him from her attack. This will probably make him wary of allowing people to get too close from now on.

It seems obvious that she was in the employ of Sammael, so when he said that he would lead Rand’s forces against Illian she decided to act. This was a rather stupid move on her part because she would have been much more likely to succeed if she had waited until he was asleep before sticking a knife in his ribs.

7) Moiraine and Lanfear: they have passed through the doorframe ter'angreal. Assumptions have been made that both are dead. If they are, how do you see that affecting the ones left behind? If one or both were to reappear later, how do you think that would happen?

I am glad that we finally got to the point of Moiraine’s sadness and need to prepare for the future. We had assumed that she had seen something in Rhuidean and we were right. At least she could make some good come of her actions and help Rand in the process. I still wish that he had swatted Lanfear into a bloody smudge, but I assume that he will need to fight with that problem at another time and her sacrifice might help him to see the need to treat all combatants as the same, ovaries or not.

It would seem that they are both dead, or perhaps they are simply both trapped in the other dimension with no way to get back now that the doorframe is destroyed. We know that the creatures on the other side are not the kindest individuals, so goodness knows what they will do with two powerful Aes Sedai. Whatever the truth of their continued existence, they will not be able to play any further role in the events of this world for some time, if at all.

It seems that Lan is compelled to find the Aes Sedai that now holds his Bond, who appears to be one of the Greens. I can only hope that she is not secretly Black, and that she will quickly pass the Bond to Nynaeve so that they can stop all their moody, adolescent, emo nonsense and get down to important stuff, like saving the world! I am sure that Moiraine’s absence will be a great loss to Rand and the others, even if she was rather annoying most of the time she was always useful to have around.

I sincerely doubt that we have seen the last of either of them. Lanfear is just too annoying to be removed so easily and very good at negotiating her way out of trouble. As for Moiraine, I cannot help thinking of Gandalf’s death in The Fellowship of the Ring. She will be back, but perhaps changed in some way, although I doubt that she will have changed to White Ajah . . .

8) Rand had a very intense discussion with Sulin. Do you think that Rand will be able to overcome his hesitancy to harm women in light of that discussion and Moiraine's sacrifice?

I do hope so, because it is a massive advantage to his opponents, especially as several female Forsaken are still alive and kicking. I cannot imagine Moghedien or Graendal giving him an easy ride because he refuses to hurt him and Semirhage sounds even worse than them. His weakness also places any women in his entourage in massive danger as they can be used to make him compliant. He needs to realize that ovaries are irrelevant in war and ignore their presence when it comes to fighting.


  1. I agree about Brigitte! I put almost the same thing. You're going in the right direction with all your theories as well. Back in book 2, Moiraine actually told Lan who his bond would pass to. It's Myrelle, who happens to be in Salidar at the moment, where Nynaeve is headed. Just sayin'. :D

    1. I think it is pretty obvious that Moiraine intended for Lan to become Nynaeve's Warder, but I wonder how they will react to her meddling in their relationship? :D

  2. Yes, if and when it ever gets out that Birgitte is Elayne's warder, poo might hit the fan among the aes sedai. I think that will be a very interesting chapter or two.

    Perhaps Rand will have a triple wedding, and then he will be OK with having three wives? I am sure he will OK with it once the bedding starts ;). The idea of more than 2 people in a long term serious relationship doesn't bother me personally, but I would like an important secondary character to be a female with multiple males bonded to her in some way, like one of the Green Ajah. I just need balance and equality.

    Ah yes, Rand receives those letters, realizes there's some spying going on, and then he or Mat makes a comment about how the only thing that can get in or out without notice is a pigeon. Well, we've seen pigeons used before to send spy messages, so I had a little giggle over that.

    Good point about Melindrha not waiting until Mat was asleep, over in the throes of passionate sex, etc. Perhaps some Aiel cultural norm that was part of her make up made her make this bad decision.

    Yes, I too hope Lan's bond does NOT go to a black ajah (tho that might be very entertaining from a reader's perspective) and that he is quickly passed to Nynaeve. So that we can put the teen emo silliness to bed and get on with saving the world.

    Rand, please learn to ignore ovaries on the battle field, because those battling ovaries aren't going to care one way or another if their opponent is vaginally or penilally enhanced.

    1. I guess that as long as everyone involved in the relationship is open and honest and in full agreement with the arrangement then I can wish them good luck, but I agree with you: I would like to see some polyandry as well. Well, not 'see' so much as have it mentioned as acceptable.

      I am just amazed that the Aiel haven't been set to shouting down all the pigeons they see . . .

      Now I have an image of ovaries in camo bandanas marching into battle . . . :D


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