Sunday, January 12, 2014

A Crown of Swords by Robert Jordan: Week 3

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 12

1. Nicola and Areina are trying to blackmail both Egwene and Myrelle. What do you think of their motivations? Did Egwene do the right thing in rejecting them? Could this damage her for real?

I hope that they are both just trying to do what they need to get ahead as quickly as possible, but I am not sure that they do not have some other motive. I am not convinced that they are Darkfriends, but they are certainly very irritating and remarkably stupid in their attempts to get what they want. In some ways, I think it would be far too obvious if they were revealed to have sinister intentions, so I am willing to write them off as just obnoxious at the moment. They seem like the kind of people who are so desperate for friendship that they become stalkers . . .

I am fairly certain that Egwene did the right thing in telling them to “Bog off!” because they do not have much in the way of evidence, only their word. I am not sure that they would be believed, even if they tried to tell some of the Sisters. I also wonder if many more Aes Sedai would feel the same as Siuan: that it was an inevitable consequence of the tasks they were sent to carry out. One thing is quite sure: the Sisters would be more likely to close ranks and punish the people trying to blackmail other Aes Sedai.

2. Egwene has lots of dreams, about Gawyn, Mat, Logain and herself. Any comments or crazy theories?

Gawyn walking over broken glass . . . ouch! I can only assume that this represents the pain and suffering that he is undergoing at the moment or will suffer before he becomes her Warder. Then Gawyn faced by two paths: it would seem that he may still choose not to side with Egwene. I wonder which path will lead to him dying of old age in his bed: I have a suspicion that choosing Egwene will be the more dangerous route.

Egwene clawing at a wall made of the ancient Aes Sedai symbol or Seals, seems likely to refer to her seemingly impossible task of pulling down all the old and outdated Aes Sedai laws and traditions. It could also refer to the need to destroy the White Tower in order to rebuild it united and stronger than before.

Mat with fireworks in his hand is a little more obscure. Mat has already met Aludra, the disgraced Illuminator, so I assume that this has something to do with her. The idea that the fireworks could hurt people suggests that he might think of using them as weapons of some sort, which would seem like a natural progression. The resulting explosives would be very powerful but indiscriminate.

Egwene being executed seems a very likely possibility if everything goes wrong or she is betrayed. While Logain standing on a black stone sounds like he will take control of the Black Tower, where Taim currently uses a black stone to address the Asha’man. The golden hawk is most likely to be Berelain, as the same symbol was seen in Min’s viewing of Perrin. However, I am not sure how Egwene and Berelain could become tied together. As for the man dying in bed or the one with something very bright in his hand: I have no idea what they mean.

3. Egwene's circle of trust is growing, with Faolain, Theodrin and Myrelle, soon also to include the rest of the Salidar six it seems. While not sitters, these are some powerful names. Will this finally be the tipping point, or do you expect she will need something more?

This may not be the tipping point, but it is certainly significant, as is Gareth Bryne’s hint that he answers only to her. It seems that Egwene is finally establishing her very own power base, which is based upon something that she can trust and rely upon. We have seen that many of the Aes Sedai do not give Egwene the respect due to her position, which means that they are underestimating her. Those that have opened their eyes to her real talents and abilities are much more respectful and are more likely to respond to her way of courting support.

I find it ironic that she is one of the most powerful female channelers and yet she does not use her brute strength to intimidate the others. Perhaps this is simply because she has not spent enough time in the Tower to become infected by the usual petty bickering and jostling for position. Of course, it might also be because she has seen Rand and some of the Forsaken in action and so has a much better idea of what they are facing in the Last Battle. We see that she has already broken Tower rules by allowing any woman to become a novice and I imagine that she will soon be opening negotiations with the Sea Folk and other hidden groups of channelers. This will bring a lot of criticism from the likes of Romanda and Lelaine, but I hope that even they will finally see the necessity of changing in order to survive.

4. It looks like Lan will meet Nynaeve pretty soon, and in Ebou Dar no less. This is growing into quite the mishmash of characters. What sort of amusing scenarios do you see in the future? Lan is no longer a King (sort of)… could he be the key to finding the bowl?

I was very impressed by Egwene’s plan to deal with Lan. It makes sense that he needs something to live for, just like a Stilled woman, and we know that he truly loves Nynaeve. In fact, I was rather insulted for him that Myrelle dismissed the idea as being impossible: he is very single-minded, but that does not mean that he is unable to fall in love. I was rather disgusted that she had been bedding him and suspect that she would not allow herself to imagine that any other woman could capture his affections more than she could: sour grapes by the vat load, I think!

I do not think that Lan is the key to finding the bowl, as I am not sure how he can be the “one who is no longer”. However, I can see that he might be crucial in keeping Nynaeve alive long enough for them to find the bowl and use it.

5. Halima/Aran'gar/Balthamel is earning Egwene's trust. Do you think the headaches are her design? Are they just headaches or something more sinister? Compulsion? With her channeling saidin and Logain gone, how could she ever be found out?

Was I the only one to find the head massage sequence really creepy? This is a really good example of an author using the reader’s knowledge to make a scene very uncomfortable to read. Of course, the fact that Halima is not only a Forsaken but also male makes it even more horrifying, especially when s/he suggests that she take a bath and he gives her a full body massage . . . *shudder*.

Even before this stomach-turning scene I had got the impression that the headaches were not normal. I wondered if they were the result of a poison of some type administered by the irritating maidservants, but this seems like a much more likely source. I assume that Halima is going to make the headaches so incapacitating that Egwene becomes dependent on him/her, giving him/her amazing influence over the Salidar Sisters.

I assume that she will only be revealed when one of the Asha’man come for a visit and detect her channeling. Unfortunately, I do not see that happening for quite some time.


  1. Yeah Nicola and Areina are definitely both idiots. Glad to see Egwene deal with them. Great interpretation of the dreams. Even I am hazy on the last few. Pretty sure I know what the man dying in the bed and the bright object are, but hazy on the dark young man, and, like Eivind, I can't remember how Mayene (the hawk) affects Egwene. Myrelle definitely has an elevated opinion of herself. The thing is, I think she genuinely wanted to "get him ready" for Nynaeve, and didn't think Nynaeve can handle him yet. But that just increases her arrogance and lack of trust in anyone else. You know, while reading the first time, I didn't find the headache sequence creepy, even though I knew who Halima was. But reading it the second time, I definitely see it. On my blog, I found a seriously creepy drawing of it, which made it even worse. :D

    1. I like the way that we have some dreams that are fairly obvious, so that we can feel all smug about understanding them . . . and then others that are totally mystifying! :D

      I agree that Myrelle probably had the best of intentions, but I am not sure that she would rush to the decision that Nynaeve was 'ready'. She is very dismissive of the idea of Lan being in love with Nynaeve, although I am quite sure that she was trying to persuade herself that he could fall in love with HER. I expect some bitch-slapping when the two women finally face off . . .

      I find the whole concept of Halima creepy . . .

  2. I think you are right in that the Aes Sedai would close ranks and punish idiots trying to accuse the Amyrlin of something inappropriate.

    I do hope Egwene can tear down many of the outdated Aes Sedai traditions and snobbish behavior. Of course, changing the world view of the more established Aes Sedai will probably bring dissent, so she will need some strong supporters. As you suggest, if she reaches out to the Sea Folk, the Aiel Wise Women, and other groups of channelers, she main gain support there that would counteract the dissenters among the Aes Sedai.

    Wow, I am an idiot. I hadn't really pictured Halima as her old self - a male Forsaken. So, yeah, that massage scene becomes a bit more intimate, and more intimate than Egwene knows, which is what makes it creepy. Can I slap Halima? Is there a line? I don't mind waiting my turn.

    1. Egwene needs to break down those traditions ASAP and recruit as many channelers as she can find, but I can only imagine the Aes Sedai kicking and screaming as she drags them along.

      There is a line: take a ticket! :D


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