Sunday, November 17, 2013

Lord of Chaos by Robert Jordan: Week 5

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 the bottom of this post.

This week we read through to the end of Chapter 24.

1. We get to see a little of how Cairhien is working with Berelain in charge. Wetlanders trying to apply ji’e’toh: can this end well? What did you think of Rand’s decision to execute Mangin?

Although I can understand the attraction of the Aiel way to the youngsters in Cairhien, I do worry that one of them will insult one of the Aiel enough to start a nasty fight. Egwene observes a group of the women swaggering about and being truly obnoxious, so it is not just the Aiel that could be a problem. I have to wonder if it might not be better to try to persuade them to join the regular military forces, even the women, but I doubt that they would take much notice of what anyone says. Perhaps a better suggestion would be to set Sorilea to training them: I am quite sure that moving mountains of sand with a fork would persuade most of them to go home to their mothers! :D

This was a tough call, but I expected it from the very moment that he made the announcement back in the last book (I think it was). It was almost inevitable that some wetlander would manage to provoke one Aiel enough to cause a death: it was just a shame that it was someone that Rand knew and respected. However, I think that it sends a very powerful message to the wetlanders, showing that the Aiel are just as subject to Rand’s rulings as they are. Although this might not create an easing of the tensions between the two groups, it might go a small way to reducing the wetlander fears about Rand’s intention to let the Aiel ravage their lands. Fortunately, the Aiel are very logical and stoic in matters like this, so they will not feel slighted by the hanging.

2. Ogiers, Shadar Logoth and a missing Aiel, oh my! How great was it to meet some more Ogiers, especially Elder Haman and Loial’s mother? Do you think it was wise for Rand to take so many Aiel with them? Oh, and how do you think Loial will react to his reunion with Erith?

This was a surprise, but a very pleasant one and I LOVED meeting Haman and Covril. I think we already had the impression that female Ogier are the more *cough ‘assertive’ of the two sexes when we encountered them before, but we saw something much the same here. It seems hard to believe that Loial is related to Covril, because she is so much more opinionated and forthright than he is. However, I can certainly understand why he idealizes Elder Haman because they are remarkably similar in their personalities. Haman’s obvious sorrow about the lost Steddings and groves was quite moving and yet the old guy was so dignified that I just wanted to give him a great big hug. I would totally jump at the chance to study with Elder Haman.

(Side note: I LOVED Rand’s thought that Elder Haman’s students would have just realized that he had left the Stedding and were having a giant discussion about what to do about it! This reminded me so much of Tolkien’s Ent Moot . . . )

To be honest, I was rather surprised that only one of the Aiel vanished in Shadar Logoth. However, the way that she simply vanished without a sound was incredibly creepy and I was on the edge of my seat until they all left. I do think that this was a case of the Aiel being overconfident, which is not something that we have really seen before. Their fearless attitude made them completely the wrong people to take into the dead city and was a disaster waiting to happen.

Erith is so cute, in an ‘I’m going to drag my man home by his hair and make him stay put’ kind of way. I loved the very obvious competitiveness between her and Covril and I fear that poor Loial will have a very difficult time trying to have any control over his life with these two trying to run it for him. However, I got the impression that Loial was rather taken with Erith, so perhaps he will not mind too much, and I can see her fighting my his side at the Last Battle because she is certainly feisty enough.

3. A group of dead Tinkers, complete with ominous message, and Travelling groups of Aiel assassins. Any suggestions as to who is responsible for these two incidents and do you think that the message was written by the Tinker or one of the attackers? Was anybody surprised that Olver sneaked away from his foster home and followed Mat?

I suppose that the most obvious person responsible would be Sammael, but that seems a little obvious and also more sneaky than I would expect from him. As Mat wonders, the message could be the beginning of a longer message about something important that the Tinkers wanted Rand to know and they were simply killed by bandits. Of course, they could have been attacked by Shaido, although I am not sure if any Aiel would actually attack them. The message could be a ruse or real but I am not sure how it benefits anyone, even Sammael. The only other person who springs to mind as a possible suspect is Padan Fain, who has been very quiet lately but is certainly crazy enough to leave this message for Rand.

The Shaido seem like the most likely candidates for the Aiel attacking Mat’s tent, although it could have been a group of Darkfriends from anywhere. They certainly had a Forsaken with them, because nobody else knows how to Travel as far as we know. I sincerely hope that there are no new Travellers out there that we do not know about yet, otherwise it is going to get very difficult for Mat or the others to feel safe anywhere.

It was only a very tiny chance that Olver would do as he was told and stay put in his new home, so I was not at all surprised when he showed up. It was also very obvious that he idolizes Mat, so it was fairly inevitable as far as I can see. I was just glad that Mat did not try to do anything stupid like sending the kid away: at least he was wise enough to realize that it would have been a waste of time.  

4. Sammael tells Graendal that he has a truce with Rand and she actually believes him. Is she having a really bad day or has Scarface suddenly got a lot better at play-acting? Also, why does he want her to believe that he has a truce?

I was really surprised and confused by this chapter because it was such a change around from their last encounter. Previously, we had seen Sammael behaving like an over emotional teenager in a serious sulk whilst Graendal was all calm and collected. This time their roles were completely reversed and I cannot work out how it happened. Indeed, Sammael managed to rattle her enough that she told him where Mesaana was operating, which seems unbelievable after what we had seen before. As we were seeing this from her perspective, I do not think that she was pretending to be shaken, which is even more confusing.

Perhaps the implications of Sammael’s alleged truce with Rand are so significant that it could totally destroy all of her plans. I suppose that this news could be so shocking that it was enough to crack even Graendal’s composure. In light of the Forsaken’s inability to unite into a cohesive force, it makes sense that any truce between them or with Rand would be devastating to the others . . . but only if it is real. I am amazed that Graendal would accept this assertion without question or further evidence.

5. We know that Rhuarc had to give her a good whipping in Tear, but do you have any idea why the Wise Ones have adopted Berelain like a daughter? Does she seem to be a good choice as interim ruler in Cairhien?

Yet again, I am confused. I fail to see why Berelain has been able to gain such acceptance from the Aiel, but I am starting to see that understanding them is a hopeless task. I can only assume that there is something about her directness that they can relate to, but I am happy to be enlightened.

No matter what her mysterious relationship with the Aiel, she certainly seems to be doing a good job with Cairhien. There is a lasting peace and the city is rebuilding and beginning to run more smoothly. I guess that her experience running Mayene, whilst fending off the Tairens has made her a very efficient manager. I liked her suggestion that she and Rhuarc make an effective pairing because they can play ‘good cop / bad cop’ when dealing with the Nobles. 

6. The envoy of Aes Sedai from Elaida has arrived in Cairhien. What do you think about the inclusion of a Red sister in the group? There are six that Egwene spots in the street, but do you think there are more lurking about, possibly another seven?

Although I can understand why Elaida would want to include one Sister from each Ajah still present in the Tower, the inclusion of a Red could send a very bad signal to Rand. However, as a Red herself, I do not think that Elaida would think of this issue because she is delusion personified. I have to assume that she expects Rand to do exactly as he is told, so why would she worry about what he might think of her delegation? I can only assume that Rand will be uncooperative with them and try to put them off as much as possible, and the inclusion of a Red will not make him any more likely to trust them.

I am not sure where the others are, but I have no doubts that they number at least thirteen and will be deployed as soon as possible to shield Rand and start to manipulate him. I have the amusing notion of them dressed as chambermaids or kitchen wenches and trying to fit in with the other servants but failing miserably! :D  


  1. 1. The “amateur Aiel” I think will be mostly fine. I don't think the Aiel ever stop rolling their eyes at this, but they can suck it and learn to accept facts. I guess if they want wetlanders to really follow ji'e'toh for real they could, I don't know, teach them? But if they don't want to then tough luck.

    About Mangin, well it's just one more bridge burned for Rand and his mental state. His storyline is really a lot about subtle changes that each seem sensible and insignificant in isolation, and then around book elenty-hundred you look back at things and wonder where it all went wrong. Fortunately there are a handful of clearsighted individuals around…

    2. Oh yeah, that Ogier fix was long overdue. Unfortunately, Perrin and company should be more than halfway to Caemlyn by now, so this will turn out to be quite the detour for them.

    In hindsight, Rand and the Ogier could have closed that waygate just fine and more safely on their own. A horde of Maidens does come in handy, but surely Shadar Logoth is an exceptional place, where brute force and numbers don't count for much. Then again, we haven't seen the last of the place and Liah will have a role yet to play.

    Loial and Erith will probably break my ador-o-meter.

    3. Argh, I may have accidentally spoiled this a couple of weeks ago when I asked about Mat adopting Olver. I didn't remember that it wasn't revealed until now that he had actually tagged along. Well… uhh… surprise! I can't claim to be surprised. :)

    I don't think the secret behind these two incidents is ever revealed. Jordan might have taken it to the grave with him, or it's (more likely) hidden in the notes somewhere. I don't much care to speculate, although we have seen a lot of Sammael lately…

    4. Fans have debated this scene quite a lot. There doesn't seem to be any 100% sensible reason why Sammael would lie, but it also seems unreasonable that he would have misunderstood the reply, however it was that thing worked. It's been suggested that someone else present offed Andris in a way that made Sammael think Rand had agreed, but this seems unlikely. The WoT FAQ (yes I'm cheating) suggests that Sammael is trying to make Graendal scared of Rand, egging her to try to attack him on her own to eliminate both Rand and Graendal from the Nae'blis race. But… she's much too smart for that I think.

    1. Continued!

      5. Berelain is awesome and sexy and they worship her like the goddess she is!! Ahahah, sorry, just messing around. I don't know to be honest, although she must have restored herself in your eyes at least a little bit by now, so why not also in the eyes of the Wise Ones? I imagine she's like the ultimate prize for matchmaker Sorilea.

      6. Ah yeah, finally some plot development. In the previous books it's mostly been clear from the beginning what the climax would be. In this one it's not so obvious, and I won't reveal everything (of course) but it's at least related to the embassies, from Tar Valon and Salidar. So keep your eyes peeled. It seems likely that there are other Aes Sedai lurking around, and, of course, Gawyn.


      I want to talk about prophecy a little bit. Last week we heard Nicola give a foretelling, although nobody present seemed to recognise it as such:

      “The lion sword, the dedicated spear, she who sees beyond. Three on the boat, and he who is dead yet lives. The great battle done, but the world not done with battle. The land divided by the return, and the guardians balance the servants. The future teeters on the edge of a blade.”

      The lion sword etc. is evidently Elayne, Aviendha and Min, so it seems reasonable to assume that he who is dead yet lives is Rand. The rest is up to interpretation, but the return might mean the Seanchan and the servants might mean the Aes Sedai. Not clear yet what the guardians are.

      This week we got from Egwene that Melaine and Bair dreamed of Rand on a boat with three unknown women, and a scale tilting first one way then the other. Too many similarities with Nicola's foretelling to ignore.

      In general I must say Rand has a very cavalier attitude to these dreams. They're not as straightforward as it seems to him.

      The bowl was also mentioned by Egwene. She doesn't know it, but it's the same ter'angreal that Elayne and Nynaeve found in T'A'R last week. “The key to finding the bowl is to find the one who is no longer.” No longer… what exactly?

    2. Good call on the prophecy. The "he who is dead and yet lives" could be anyone--Mat, certain baddies we won't mention, etc--but given the foretelling, it pretty much has to be Rand. I guess if Sammael was just trying to trick G, it just goes to show that he's desperate and still not too bright. But we knew that already. 😉

    3. 1. I agree with your idea that the Aiel should perhaps stop rolling their eyes and teach the wetlanders some stuff. But I guess that would be no fun and avoid more lovely conflict and bitchiness.

      2. Hmm . . . so Liah isn't actually dead . . . this leaves me wondering how long she can survive in Shadar Logoth before being killed or going crazy . . . poor thing.

      3. That's a shame - I hate it when events that have "I am significant" written all over them go unexplained :(

      4. I found this scene very jarring and unsettling just because it seemed like a such sudden change in Sammael's character.

      6. I have to assume that the Tower Aes Sedai are going to shield Rand and try to drag him off to kneel before Elaida: I can only hope that it goes horribly, horribly wrong for them.

      I didn't catch the similarities between Nicola's Foretelling and the Wise Ones' dreams, so that was very helpful, thanks!

    4. I am glad we feel the same way about the wetlander Aiel. If the real Aiel don't want to take the time to explain their ways, and why some things are extremely offensive, if they can't adapt, etc, then the real Aiel can suck it.

      I like your explanation as to why Sammael was messing with Graendal. In a not so subtle nor tricky way he could be trying to get her to do something stupid. Too bad that Sammael has been using up the collective Forsaken Stupid Quota on a weekly basis.

      Ah, yes, that little prophecy. On one hand, I totally get rand's cavalier attitude. The prophecies can be interpreted a number of ways, and you can spend tons of time thinking about them and trying to take cues on what actions/decisions you should make and never sleep for fear of having chosen wrong. Or you can just live your life and deal with what is right in front of you. I would do the later, like Rand.

      Like the lion sword could be Rand, the dedicated spear could be Mat, and she who sees beyond could be Egwene with her dream walking. The prophecies are fun for the reader to contemplate, but if I was Rand, I too would let others ponder them while I got some real work done.

    5. Forsaken Stupid Quota will now become a regular term in my posts! :D

      I think that Mr Jordan made the prophecies purposely obscure so that it would drive his fans crazy - they certainly make my head hurt!

  2. I think we're all in agreement about the Mangin situation, as well as our love for the Ogier. And I agree with you that the Aiel are hopelessly confusing. We all conjectured as to why they love Berelain, but chances are it wouldn't be anything anyone would guess. ☺️

    1. Yep - I am learning to try not to analyze the Aiel too much - they are too inscrutable and confusing! :D

  3. Yes, the Cairhein youngsters are lacking the Aiel discipline even as they try to become Aiel tough. Sorilea would definitely be useful in teaching some of them about Aiel patience, etc.

    Haha! Yes, I can just see Haman's students having a lengthy, lengthy discussion about what to do. Just like an Ent Moot. :)

    I really like your idea that Padan Fain could be behind the Tinker attack, and perhaps helped orchestrate the Aiel attack on Mat's tent. He has been a little too quiet, which makes me wonder what all he has been up to.

    I too enjoy Rhuar and Berelain playing good cop/bad cop. In fact, they get along so well, and Berelain is so well accepted by the Wise Women, i have to wonder if there are some plans behind the scenes to marry Berelain into the Aiel? could make things very, very interesting.

    1. I know that the young Cairhiens are not ideal, but do they really deserve to have Sorilea set on them????

      Fain is one of those characters that I hate reading, but it makes me nervous when we don't see him for some time . . . I like to keep my eyes firmly on his nasty, weasel butt.


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