Sunday, December 29, 2013

A Crown of Swords by Robert Jordan: Week 1

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 2

1) Elaida has a new office, plenty of schemes, and lots of confidence. What do you think of all this? Will she be successful? Should she be afraid of Bryne's approaching army? Will she be the woman to 'save humankind?' (Totally didn't snort while typing that.)

I think I might have mentioned before that I think Elaida is as dumb as a bag of hammers, but it is worth repeating, especially when she continues to display her total lack of intelligence. Her decision to build herself a huge palace whilst the Last Battle is approaching seems to be a good indication of how detached she is from reality. Could someone please slap an a’dam on this stupid woman ASAP?

If Elaida succeeds in even one of her plans then I will eat my own head! She is deluded about Rand and his powers; her assessment of the Salidar Aes Sedai is so wrong as to be laughable; and her predictions about Gareth Byrne’s army defy logic is such a staggering way that I was surprised that Alviarin did not burst out laughing. Even her own Foretelling did not offer any hope that she herself would be instrumental in anything worthwhile. It said ‘The Amyrlin Seat’, and Egwene seems far more likely to show the power and skill to unite the Tower than Elaida . . . and Egwene is a young country bumpkin with practically no experience.

Humankind is much more likely to be saved if Elaida is removed from her position. I assume that the Dark One wants her kept in place because she is such a useless joke.

2) Sevanna seems to be planning to make use of her little boxes. What do you think she's planning? What will she use them for? (Does anyone else want to put her and Elaida together in a really small room. Just to see what happens?)

Sevanna is planning something that will help her take over the world, but I have no idea what the details might be. I assume that she is in contact with one of the Forsaken and hopes that they will miraculously hand her Rand so that she can rule the world through him. However, she obviously has not even thought about why any of the Forsaken would want to help her with her scheme. Indeed, I am not really sure why she did not simply try to seduce the Forsaken and use him as her puppet as that would have been a much quicker route to ultimate power. Perhaps even she is not deluded enough to attempt to control a Forsaken with her boobs.

I cannot work out why the other Shaido Wise Ones put up with her: they know that she is not actually qualified to be a Wise One and yet they let her get away with pretending to be one. This seems to go against everything we have seen the Wise Ones doing elsewhere. Her attempts to make it seem as if she can channel are frankly pathetic, so I do not know what power she holds over them (other than making them complicit in murder).

Elaida would probably burn Sevanna to a crisp with the One Power, which would be a scene I would pay to see! :D

3) Pedron Niall is assassinated in his fortress, followed by the death of his dim-witted assassin, Omnera. What do you think the message he received said? What do you predict will happen in the wake of the assassination, both in general and more specifically concerning Morgase and her retinue?

I was stunned by the assassination. Of all the people who would attempt such a thing, Omnera was way down on my list and I can hardly believe that he was successful. However, it did seem that he had been influenced by Eamon Valda or Rhadam Asunawa to be the actual assassin so that they could keep their hands clean and be suitably horrified by his actions. Somehow I just cannot imagine that he could have decided to do this all by himself.

I think the message was a confirmation that the Seanchan invasion was a real threat that needed to be countered. We know that he had dismissed the reports earlier as exaggerated and unimportant, but this message seems to have contained conclusive proof. Unfortunately, the message was lost, but I am not sure that Valda would believe it anyway.

I hope that Morgase manages to get away from the Fortress of Light somehow, because it seems that Asunawa is quite determined to torture her and then kill her as a Tar Valon witch. I would not trust Valda with her either as he has proven himself to be totally corrupt and amoral. Perhaps she will get her chance to escape when the Seanchan come knocking at the gates.

I am intrigued to discover what path Balwer takes now that Niall is dead. Will he reveal his true role as the spymaster and serve Valda or will he keep quite and start to work against the new Lord Captain Commander? I think he will choose the second option because I am fairly certain that he does not trust Valda and also because I cannot see Valda and Asunawa believing him if he tries to reveal his position to them. He could be a very powerful ally to Rand if he turns away from the Whitecloaks.

4) Gawyn tries to get his bearings in the aftermath of the battle and seems to be aware of a plot against him and the Younglings, which we've already had hints of. Do you think this plot will ever reach fruition? Will he make it back to Tar Valon alive? And what do you think happened to the wounded sister who disappeared before he could rescue her?

Poor Gawyn, he is constantly working from outside the information loop. He always tries to do the right thing, but is hampered by his lack of knowledge or understanding of the truth of the situation. I wish that Egwene would have a really long dream-talk with him to fill him in on what is really going on!

I think the Younglings are reasonably safe now that the envoy is in disarray, so I think that they should be able to get back to Tar Valon relatively unscathed. However, I am not sure that Elaida will be happy to see them return, so I am worried about what might happen once he gets back to the city. I can see him being helpful to the Aes Sedai that escaped Rand’s allies and escorting them back to Tar Valon, but that injured Sister was probably taken by the Shaido, which might be rather uncomfortable for her.

5) Perrin and his companions observe all the bad blood between groups following the battle. Do you think all this animosity will blow up eventually, or will they work out their differences? What did you think of Rand's decision to hand the Aes Sedai over to the Wise Ones and send Taim back to the farm? And how about how he handled Alanna? The fact that Rand memorized the names of 151 dead Maidens? Anything stick out to you about Perrin's observations, or what are your other general impressions about this chapter?

I can understand why emotions would be running high after such a traumatic event. The fact that factions of the Aiel and Aes Sedai were fighting against each other will only add to the general atmosphere of uncertainty and distrust. Pretty much everyone there has had their world turned upside down, so it makes sense that they would be looking for someone to blame and that old issues would resurface. However, we have seen that the disparate groups can cooperate reasonably well in Cairhien, so I suspect that the grumbling will subside as they move away from the battlefield and return to something more like normal life.

The Wise Ones are the only female channelers that Rand trusts implicitly, so it makes sense that he would charge them with overseeing the Aes Sedai. They also have the mental strength and force of personality to stand up to the Sisters’ attempts at controlling their own destinies, so I look forward to seeing Aes Sedai running around the camp or digging piles of sand as punishments. A few weeks with Sorilea in charge and perhaps some of these Aes Sedai will come to realize that they are not actually in charge anymore and have to do as they are told.

I am increasingly of the opinion that Rand should probably kill Taim, but sending him back to the Black Tower will do for now. I am a little uneasy about the Asha’man left behind, especially the strongly absent one, Dashiva: I suspect that he is either going to try to kill Rand or prove to be a huge asset. In contrast to Taim, I thought that Rand’s treatment of Alanna was a little cruel, but perfectly understandable because of the forced nature of their link. I was somewhat surprised that Kiruna did not realize that Alanna had Bonded Rand as a Warder, as I thought Alanna’s suffering was a really obvious indicator that she was sharing his pain.

I was glad to hear a little more about the wolves that took part in the battle, though I was sad to learn that so many died. I can understand Rand’s grief about the dead Maidens, although I am not sure that his obsession is entirely healthy. Of course, he has just been through the most hellish experience so he is not likely to return to normal behavior for some time, if he ever does.


  1. Both Balwer and Dashiva are excellent characters to keep an eye on. They will both figure in various ways in the story. I loved that Jordan threw in the bit about Aswana and Valda not understanding why Niall always kept the squirrely little secretary around. Obviously his position as the true spy was impeccably preserved. He's really too smart to reveal himself to his master's assassins, though. Despite the scene, I got the feeling he knew exactly what had taken place. Where he ends up after this is interesting, but in a good way. :D

    1. I suppose if anyone was going to know about a plot to kill Niall it would be Balwer . . . I just don't quite understand why he would let it go ahead! :D

  2. Now I have an image of Sevanna and a Forsaken motorboarding. Boob power!

    OK, more seriously, I was chatting with my man about Sevanna's, yeah the mysterious box, not her personal and private box. And chatting with him we both thought of the stasis boxes the Forsaken talked about last book or the one before. They hold powerful relics from an age gone by, right? What if she found a stasis box and just needs to figure out how to open it? Some powerful weapon might then be hers.

    Ah, yes, what will Balwer do? That is an excellent question. He has so much info, and has the spy network. So he could greatly help or hinder the next Lord Captain Commander. I hope he hinders.

    1. Unless it means that she blows her face off accidentally, I really don't want to think of Sevanna getting her hands on a powerful weapon of any sort.

      We are bad, aren't we: we are cheering for the defeat of the Children of the Light! :D


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