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 45.
1. Egwene wants to send Mat to Ebou Dar with Elayne and Nynaeve. Because of his promise to Rand, he goes. What do you think of this situation? Good idea? Bad idea? Where do you think the plot will go--for Mat or the girls--from here?
We know how terribly good the Super Girls are at walking straight into traps and being captured, so I have to think that any added security for them is a good idea. Also, it allows Mat to fulfill his promise to Rand without actually doing what he was told, which seems like a very Aes Sedai type of solution to the situation. I certainly cannot see how it would be a bad idea for Mat to go to Ebou Dar, although I can understand why Rand wants Elayne on the Lion Throne as soon as possible.
I have to assume that the girls will eventually find the special bowl that they are looking for, although I doubt that it will be an uneventful search. Ebou Dar is on the coast, so my primary concern would be that the rumors of the Seanchan invasion in the West are actually true reports and it makes sense for them to move along the coast taking the ports first before working inland. Perhaps this means that Mat will meet the Daughter of the Nine Moons and settle down . . . yeah, right! :D
Side note: I was so pleased that Mat picked up on the Aes Sedai not respecting Egwene. I just loved his very pointed display of formal respect: it was so Mat.
2. Aviendha and Elayne finally have a...ahem...heart to heart. What did you think of each of their reactions, Elayne's refusal to "meet toh" and the fact that Aviendha later ended up in a frilly dress?
I am not sure if toh can be dismissed so easily, in fact I would doubt that Aviendha was satisfied with Elayne’s words. I suppose that wearing a frilly dress could be a form of punishment: I know it would be for me! Of course, this could just be a result of the two deciding to try being first-sisters, but I find it hard to believe that Aviendha would want to dress like a Wetlander.
3. Min comes to Rand. She's obviously trying to win him. What do you think of her methods and his reaction to her? I know in my own writing, whenever I try to make a character as clueless as Rand seems to be about Min's feelings, I always get criticized for it. How does Jordan pull it off? Or does he?
As a person who was completely clueless about flirting and all that kind of stuff as a teenager, I can totally understand Rand’s blindness on this point. I find it rather refreshing that both he and Perrin are so humble in their opinions of their own attractiveness to women. We also have to remember that he has spent very little time with Min and she is older than he is. These, combined with her normal attitude of sarcasm, will make it difficult for him to take her advances seriously at first. After all, she has spent a great deal of time thinking about him and planning her approach, whereas he has been busy with Elayne and Aviendha, never mind everything else that he has to worry about. Keeping all that in mind, I think these scenes were fairly effective and I can believe in Rand as a gibbering idiot quite easily.
4. The formation of the Black Tower. What do you think of it? The name, the different levels of asha'man? When Rand put the pins on Taim's lapel and proclaimed him second only to Rand, Taim seemed angry. What do you think he was so mad about?
Given that we have the Black Ajah, I find the choice of name somewhat ominous. However, the original Aes Sedai symbol includes teardrops of both black and white, so it does fit in with the original nomenclature somewhat. I can understand the need to acknowledge the levels of advancement that the men achieve, and I like Rand’s choice to make them military in tone because it seems fitting.
I have a suspicion that Taim expected to be made Rand’s equal. I am increasingly of the opinion that he is a Darkfriend or will be driven to become one because of his jealousy of Rand’s status. As so many of the Forsaken are driven by their hatred and jealousy of Lews Therin, it seems likely that Rand would have the same effect.
5. At the end of chapter 53, we see several of the Caemlyn Aes Sedai manipulating Andoran nobles. And then there was Egwene's manipulation of Mat. Apparently she wanted to get him away from the Band and keep his soldiers close to her. What do you think everyone's plans are and how will they play out?
I can only assume that the Sisters in Caemlyn do not realize that Rand really does mean to put Elayne on the Lion Throne. It seems that they are rather deluded because they think that they can treat him in the same way as other rulers that they influence. I do not think that they have yet come to realize how very powerful he is and how their petty manipulations will not effect his ability to maintain control over Andor. Somehow, I suspect that the Andoran nobles are more aware of this and will be very circumspect in what they attempt.
As for Egwene, I am not overly sure of what she has planned, although it seems that her ultimate goal is to march on Tar Valon and remove Elaida from her position. However, I am not sure how the Band fit into that plan.
6. Halima dances with Mat and then tries to channel at him, though Mat comes to the conclusion it wasn't her. What do you think s/he was trying to do? Can you think of something else significant we learned in this exchange?
I think s/he was making an ever so subtle attempt to seduce Mat, presumably in order to manipulate him for the benefit of the Dark One. I thought the channeling was a response to Mat’s refusal to play along and was possibly something as a simple as a pinch on the butt cheek or a trip to make him look foolish. To be honest, I thought that this was a very feminine burst of anger at being ignored! :D
Well, we now know that Mat’s medallion protects him from both types of channeling, but we had suspected that anyway. It also seems to prove that all those Aes Sedai were unable to feel a man using the Power in their midst, which is a definite advantage for the male Forsaken and asha’man.
7. Hooray! Perrin is back! What impressions did you get of his and Rand's reunion? How about the introduction of Faile and Min?
I thought it was genuine and rather touching that Rand ran out to give the big man a huge hug. I was only disappointed that Loial had gone off for some stedding time along the way.
That scene made me picture one of our new kittens approaching one of the old girls. The new kitten is all perky and optimistic of making a new friend, whist the old rat bag of a cat turns into a spitting ball of hate, complete with arched back and bristly tail. Fortunately, Faile soon realized that she did not need to worry about Min pursuing Perrin . . . somehow I do not think it will be so easy in our household! :D