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