Monday, January 27, 2014

A Crown of Swords by Robert Jordan: Week 5

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 got more of Cadsuane when she interviewed (grilled) the other Sisters around Rand. What did you think of how she handled them? What do you think her endgame is?

She could certainly give Siuan lessons in how to be assertive and offputting! :D

I have to admit that I thoroughly enjoyed her attitude towards the other Aes Sedai: I am pretty sure that I had a big grin on my face while she grilled them. Whilst it was quite nice to see them getting some of their own medicine, so to speak, this showed precisely why they are so obnoxious to everyone else: such bullying behavior is both feared and copied. I will continue this discussion about Aes Sedai and their interpersonal skills in my answer to question 5.

I think her endgame is simple: to get Rand to the Last Battle. I would not be surprised if she tries to reunify the Tower as well, but only because Rand will need all the allies that he can scrape together. I think that it is going to be rather interesting, and refreshing, to watch a powerful Aes Sedai whose only agenda is to prepare for a single event rather than the personal power accumulation that we normally see. I hope that she takes a little time to box Elaida’s ears.

2) Rand and Min take their relationship to the next level. (Poor Elayne!) What did you think of how this happened? How will it change Min and Rand's friendship? And how will Elayne and Aviendha react?

Poor Elayne indeed! I am quite sure that she will take her turn at sexytimes soon enough, but I doubt that she will be overly happy when she discovers the ‘happy’ news that she is the only remaining virgin at the party . . .

I thought that it was a fairly understandable reaction to the deaths that both had just uncovered and a normal biological response. I thought that it was funny that Rand started off with a rather limp, brotherly kiss and then his libido kicked in. I just hope that they avoided all that broken glass whilst they were rolling around naked! :D

I guess this will mean that Rand has a fit when he realizes that he has now ‘ruined’ two women. I am not sure how he will take the idea of taking multiple wives, but I guess that his opinion is not all that important because the girls have decided that they will share. Whilst I expect Elayne to be a little miffed, and I predict that we might have a little chin lifting, I think that Aviendha will be a little relieved. I might be misinterpreting Aiel culture, but I suspect that she will have more of a problem with Elayne’s position as the only unbedded sister-wife. 

3) Sevanna and her little retinue use the call boxes to speak to a man and a woman, who we later learn are Sammael and Graendal. What do you think their plan is? And who do you think the Watcher keeping on eye on them is?

I cannot see that Sammael would want much from the Shaido now that they have proven to be so ineffective. Surely even a Forsaken would not be stupid enough to trust them again to do anything important like capturing Rand? I suspect that the only thing that he could trust them to accomplish would be to cause chaos and confusion by encouraging them to rampage across the land. As all Aiel look much the same, this would be a good way to undermine Rand’s support from his non-Aiel allies.

The watcher has access to a large quantity of the camouflage cloth that is used to make Warder cloaks. This suggests that he is one of the Forsaken. Assuming that he is not Lanfear reincarnated as a man, we have a relatively small number of possibilities. We know that Be’lal and Rahvin have been erased by balefire, so it is not either of them. That leaves us with Aginor, Asmodean, Balthamel, Demandred and Ishamael. We know that one of Aginor or Balthamel is busy using his fingers to give Egwene soothing messages (shudder), but I do not think we know which one it is yet.

4) After a (somewhat hilarious) evening of drinking with Brigitte, the dice in Mat's head stop when Elayne and Nynaeve ask him to move into the palace. Obviously it's an important event. What do you think it means? What will happen?

I suspect that Mat will need to spend most of his time beating Tylin away with a very big stick or be worn out by her ‘demands’! :D

I was very surprised when the dice stopped because this did not seem to be such a momentous moment to me. Yes, it involved an unusual amount of sensible behavior from people who I normally want to slap some sense into, but it is hard to believe that this decision is so critical. I did enjoy Elayne’s earlier facepalm when Aviendha suggested that they use Mat’s luck, but I do not expect him to be able to simply walk straight up to the building to point out the Bowl’s location.

However, the decision does lead directly to Elayne and Nynaeve being dragged off to meet the Kin, which I suspect is the deciding factor in how they find the Bowl . . .

5) Nynaeve and Elayne discover a Circle of women who are either too weak to become Aes Sedai or have been kicked out of the Tower for some reason. What do you think of the Kin and their odd customs? How will they figure in the story from here on out?

I am amazed that the Kin manage to keep under the radar of the local Aes Sedai, but they do seem to have plenty of mysteries that might explain that. They certainly know a great deal about Aes Sedai and channeling, so I suppose that they might have enough skill to prevent huge signal fires of channeled flows giving away their locations. Their reverence for the blessed Aes Sedai is rather nauseating, but not surprising considering that they have never made it to the ‘bullying’ stage of being a Sister.

I was a little disappointed by their total refusal to believe that the girls could even be newly raised Sisters. They notice the lack of sweating and can obviously feel their great strength, and yet they do not give the girls the chance to demonstrate any skill. However, I can understand that they are more concerned with their own survival than in helping a couple girls that could, just possibly, be random wilders. I have no doubt that they will prove to be the key to finding the Bowl, although they will probably not give away the information willingly. I also think that they might be the treasure associated with the Bowl in the Wise Ones’ dream that mentioned ‘the one who is no longer’. There is no doubt that they would be welcomed by the Salidar Sisters and could prove to be a source of many useful Aes Sedai.

I am most intrigued about Mistress Anan and her relationship to the kin. We are told that she cannot channel and yet she does not turn a hair when someone uses the One Power against her. This seems totally wrong to me. She is obviously the person that Garenia met in the White Tower many years ago, although neither of them wants to admit this openly for some reason. This means that she is far too old to be a normal woman. She knows a great deal about what it means to be Aes Sedai and the effects that it has on a woman’s appearance. Finally, we have the high position that she holds within the Kin. I can see only two possibilities: she is able to hide her ability to channel, which suggests that she is one of the Forsaken, or she was an Aes Sedai but was Stilled or burnt out.

6) Nynaeve's weather sense tells her a storm is about to break over the city, which we now know is something of a Talent. It doesn't always mean the weather, but sometimes other kinds of storms. What do you think her weather sense portends this time?

We know that lots of people are searching for the Bowl and the rest of the cache, so I would expect a bit of a fight out as they all arrive at the same time to make off with the loot. I am also pretty sure that Moghedien is searching for them very, very intently, so that could also be a problem that is about to hit them.

Of course, it could just be Lan racing towards her in need of a good ‘seeing to’! :D

7) While making their way back from the Kin's manor, Nynaeve and Elayne are attacked in the street. Who do you think did it and why?

It seems likely that it is part of the same scheme that has been targeting Mat. It was not particularly successful or well-planned, so I suspect that it is either Darkfriends or some very cheap hirelings working for Elaida’s Aes Sedai.


  1. In my answers I had predicted that your answer to question six would be spot on. I am surprised to have to announce that it is not. :D

    However, very well done on number five. Yes, the Kin is almost certainly the treasure, and they will be put to good use. And though it's never 100% confirmed, the major theory is that Setalle Anan was an Aes Sedai who was burned out in an accident. I believe she studied ter'angreal. That story is mentioned in an off-handed way somewhere else in the series. It's a good example of the kind of things you can find out if you're very attentive.

    Since she can't channel, she's not actually part of the Kin, but has some kind of vaguely defined privileged outsider status. She is the one who is no longer… Aes Sedai.

    And of course, it was Mat who picked out her inn at random back in book six. All the while the girls have been debating letting him do his ta'veren thing, he's already been at it!

  2. Oh crumbs . . . I hate to be a disappointment! :D

    So she is the "one who is no longer"? Interesting, as I had assumed that meant the gholam. I seem to remember someone talking about the ter'angreal being studied back in Book 3 perhaps, possibly Verin, when the super girls were given a list of those stolen by the Black Ajah. I think it mentions a sister being burned out there. Of course, I might be misremembering - there are so many details in this series that I suspect that I will need to reread it many times to catch most of them.

    Good old Mat: doing what is necessary without even knowing!

  3. Interesting theories about Setalle Anan. She's definitely an intriguing character. I like her no-nonsense attitude and, while it almost seems not in keeping with that, I like the fact that she's so partial to Mat. Makes me like her even more. Good point about the storm being Lan on his way. I never thought of that. I can tell you it's not entirely that, but he definitely could be a contributing factor! :D

    1. I also like Setalle being all protective of Mat (as if he needs it!) . . . I just hope that she doesn't find out about Tylin . . .

  4. I can't wait to see if the ladies make a bed schedule for Rand! Of course, he will have no say what the order is or for how many nights he is with each lady. I can just see the little schedule in a neat, firm hand, in a diary calendar. It will be very orderly.

    I agree that Sammael is just using the Shaido to wreak havoc. So like the man. But, really, with Sevanna in charge, could he really get them to reliably do anything else? Nope.

    I like your guess that Mistress Anan may be a stilled former Aes Sedai. I had not thought of this, but it might explain a lot.


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