Sunday, January 5, 2014

A Crown of Swords by Robert Jordan: Week 2

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 8

1. The bleakness has returned in force and Rand’s Aiel are seeping away. Do you think that this will stop once he is visibly back in control in Cairhien or has this episode done permanent damage to his position as Car’a’carn?

I sincerely hope that Rand’s reappearance will stop the bleakness from spreading because the Aiel are vital to his success. Not only are they a warlike nation, and seasoned fighters, but also their huge numbers must make them a significant proportion of all the fighting forces in Randland. If their numbers are seen to reduce then his other forces may chose to go back on their oaths.

However, he I do think that he has been weakened by his abduction by the Aes Sedai and it is going to be very difficult to persuade everyone that he is a totally free agent. I think that the Aiel will be the easiest to convince, because they will understand the significance of the Wise Ones taking the Sisters in hand. I am not so sure that the other nations will be so easily swayed, because they still see the Aiel as unsophisticated savages.

2. On a scale of 1 to a Google, how cute is Loial offering relationship advice to Perrin? Does anyone understand what is going on between Gaul and Chiad?

Obviously it was a Google-load of cuteness and quivering ears: especially the bit when Loial blurted out how much he cares fro Erith by accident. However, I have to say that Loial is very wise when it comes to handling women, even though he appears to have no direct experience. He was quite right to think that Faile could look after herself and that Perrin should try not to worry about her. Of course, it is always so much easier to give advice than to actually do the right thing when you are in a relationship . . .

I am not sure that I will ever understand the Aiel. Their mating rituals seem very strange, as does their humor. it seems that Chiad is sending Gaul all the signals to say that she is interested in him, but does not want to put aside her spears to get married. This is upsetting Gaul because he wants to settle down as her husband . . . I wonder why they cannot come to some kind of compromise, but I suppose that would be far too simple!

3. Were you surprised or impressed by Faile’s actions during Colavaere’s power play? Do you think she was actually in any real danger?

Faile is such a changeable character that I find it difficult to predict what she will do next. Although sometimes she is all spikey and aggressive, she can also appear all meek and mild when it suits her purpose. In a way, I was not surprised that she immediately tried to gain a useful position that would help her husband when he returned. However, I was a little surprised that she allied herself with the pretend-Aiel, because of their troubled relationship with the true Aiel. But then, she was a Hunter for the Horn, so she respects women who step outside the normal female role and people, in general, who chose to fight for what they believe.

Whilst I think that Colavaere was having too much fun watching Faile and Berelain fight, I can easily imagine that both women would have been very useful as hostages. Rand seized the initiative and so she did not have a chance to prepare for his arrival, but I am quite sure that she would have threatened Faile to get Perrin’s cooperation.

4. What do you think of Rand’s decision not to execute Colavaere: was it wise or foolish? Were you surprised that Perrin agreed with him?

I suppose if the other nobles had not turned their backs on her quite so quickly this could have been a rather unwise decision. However, it seems that her supporters were very fickle and too terrified of Rand to continue their support. But, then again, I wonder if this decision will be seen as weakness from Rand, giving other noble women the belief that he will not harm them.

It seems that all the Two Rivers men have this phobia about harming women, so I was not overly surprised by Perrin’s reaction. We have seen his gentle treatment of other women in the past and we saw his discomfort at how Rand treated the Aes Sedai after Dumai’s Wells, both showing how this is a cultural thing and not just Rand’s hang-up.

5. I am still completely confused by Faile’s reaction to Berelain, how about you?

Poor Perrin: I have no idea how he is going to survive this woman. I feel like these two need a few good sessions with a marriage counselor, because they do not know how to communicate with each other. They make far too many assumptions and then get angry about what they think the other one is doing or thinking: this is not healthy and only so much of it can be overcome by animal magnetism and great sex!

6. It seems that Dyelin has also seized power in Rand’s absence. She previously said that she would only hold the throne for Elayne: do you think that she means to stick to that pledge?

Unlike Colavaere, I think that Dyelin plans to do exactly what she has said: she will hold the throne until Elayne arrives. When she first confronted Rand she came across as a very honest individual, so I believe that she will do as she says. The fact that she made no effort to flatter Rand or gain influence with him makes her seem much more trustworthy in my opinion.

7. It seems like Egwene is managing the Aes Sedai quite well, even though it is like herding very headstrong cats. Does this seem likely to continue, or do you think they will start to realize how she is manipulating them? Do you think they will ever get to Tar Valon?

I am rather impressed by Egwene as Amyrlin Seat: so far, at least. However, I am not sure that her control of the situation will continue as the more powerful Sisters get increasingly annoyed by her decisions. Unless she can  squelch their discontent quickly and decisively she might have real trouble on her hands.

I think that they will get to Tar Valon, but that Egwene will need to keep poking at them to get this accomplished. Of course, I am not at all sure that they will successfully get rid of Elaida once they do arrive: I predict messy times ahead.


  1. Hi!

    1. I'm afraid some semi-permanent damage has been done, but I'm sure the flood itself can be shut down as soon as the Wise Ones do their thing. Presumably Rand will also have to boss around the Salidar faction as well, just to drive the point home. I don't expect that to be very difficult for him…

    2. 10¹⁰⁰ is called a “Googol.” If the company Google took their name from it they spelled it differently. ;)

    Loial was… umm… pretty cute I guess. 9·10⁹⁹ maybe?

    I think you all managed to catch on to the fact that Gaul wants to marry Chiad. She likes him too but prefers to stay a Maiden, and in any case it's unlikely that she wants to marry without Bain, whom Gaul strongly dislikes. And so you have a classical Aielnundrum.

    3. Faile is extremely deft (if annoying at times) and I'm sure she knew exactly what she was doing. As much as she dislikes the court life she clearly knows it well. If things had turned out differently I doubt she would have stayed attendant for long, it's not like her. Then again, if things turned out differently it's hard to tell what would happen.

    4. Publicly humiliated in front of the nobles in the palace, and being opposed by those outside of it (Sisnera, Riatin, Damodred and that bunch—which, by the way, include nobles who were or are in rebellion against Rand), and with Tar Valon out of the Cairhien game for the forseeable future (and hopefully soon under siege), I don't think Colavaere has many allies left. I don't think she will pose a threat, but with Min's viewing I doubt Rand managed to keep her from hanging in any case. It's just a matter of how it will happen, now.

    5. At least Perrin got mad and that loosened things up. I don't think she ever stops being jealous, but at least she's uncompanionable for only brief stretches of time from now on (if memory serves me right).

    6. Just like Liesel I am hesitant to say much about Dyelin, although she's hardly super-critical to the story. She seems relatively straightforward and constant still though (unlike most other nobles), so one can hope.

    7. So long as she can keep them on the warpath, she can keep her tenuous hold. She needs a couple of genuine political victories soon though, to rest easy. I'm sure you will all enjoy finding out how she will get those. :)

    They will get to Tar Valon, but you might as well give up waiting for it. It'll happen when it happens.

    1. I like the way you are specific in measuring the Loial Cuteness Factor. ;)

      It did cross my mind that Colavaere may decide to end her own life rather than live out the humiliation of farming. I think rand will take this hard, if it plays out like that.

      Are you saying that we'll get to Tar Valon next book? Or the book after?

    2. Not sure if you really want me to answer that or not. Egwene takes a timeout in book 9 like Perrin did in book 5, so it feels a lot longer than it really is.

    3. 1. I can imagine that it will be very difficult for Rand to be nice to any Aes Sedai from now on, with the possible exception of the super girls.

      2. Opps, my bad! But, in my defense, I'm not a mathematician . . . :D

      The Aiel make my head hurt!

      4. As with so many people in this series, she epically underestimated Rand and has now paid the price. I can understand people who have not met him making this mistake, but she had seen the evidence of his powers and yet still thought she could stand against him. What an idiot!

      5. It's a good thing that Perrin is so in love with her, otherwise her behavior would drive him away.

      7. I am sure that the road to Tar Valon will be difficult, as the Sisters begin to find all manner of excuses to avoid the conflict that will inevitably happen once they arrive.

    4. Oh, Colavaere possibly committing suicide . . . that could easily be the hanging that Min saw. I'm not sure that she's brave enough to attempt it though.

  2. I agree that the Aiel will be the first to see that Rand is not an Aes Sedai puppet because they understand what it means to be placed int eh keeping of the Wise Ones. However, I think at least a few people suspect that Rand has been Bonded to Alanna, outside of the handful of Aes Sedai that know it. If this gets spread around, I think Rand will have a hugely difficult time convincing the nations rulers that he is free.

    Now I have this image of Perrin and Faile sitting on a brown couch in front of a marriage counselor who has a notebook & pen at the ready. 'Communication' is written large on a whiteboard to the side. Perrin looks a bit grumbly for having a third person drug into their business. Faile is casually flipping a blade end over end, again and again. good thing this was court-ordered. ;)

    1. The Aiel are terribly frustrating in some ways, but they are wonderfully straightforward politically, so they will be OK now that he is free.

      Yep: "So, Faile, tell me how that makes you feel?" :D


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