Sunday, February 2, 2014

A Crown of Swords by Robert Jordan: Week 6

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 30

1. It would seem that we have the identity of the Watcher from last week, but Moridin is not the name of any of the Forsaken. Is he a new Forsaken, just as Shaidar Haran is a new type of Myrddraal, or is he a reincarnation of one of the dead ones? Were you surprised that Moghedien was allowed to live and do you think she will ever escape the mindtrap?

So far we have seen dead Forsaken being resurrected, but no the creation of new ones, so I have to assume that it is one that we assume is dead. However, I am a little confused about why this particular one is using the True Power so much. From Moghedien’s thoughts it seems like a seriously bad idea, but I suppose we know that the Forsaken are not exactly models of common sense. I wonder if the Dark One can mitigate the ill effects for him, but why would he considering that this Forsaken has already failed and managed to get himself killed? I do wonder if we will see new Forsaken created though as the old ones get picked off . . .

I almost felt sorry for Moghedien as she crawled under those stone teeth . . . almost. I was rather surprised that she did not suffer more death and torture, although it does sound like Shaidar Haran was not too gentle with her during the ‘re-education’ process. However, I imagine that the Dark One can still make use of her strength and skills, even if he can no longer trust her to work independently. The mindtrap seems like a much more permanent form of the a’dam, so I imagine that her only hope of escape is for Moridin to release. Like that is going to happen any time soon!

2. So, Valda has proven to be a rapist as well as a murderer: lovely! Do you think that Morgase will successfully evade the Seanchan and do you expect her to tell anyone about her renunciation of the Lion Throne?

I think that we had all decided that Valda was a total douchebag, but I never thought that he would do this. So much for the vaunted purity and holiness of the Whitecloaks! :(

Somehow I doubt that Galad will take this well when he finds out.

I really hope that Morgase gets away from Suroth, who seems totally insane to me. I have a suspicion that the Seanchan’s total overconfidence with regards to the people they conquer will work against them in this case. They are so used to total domination and the subservience of the conquered that they seem to have no concept of monitoring the population for resistance or disobedience. I assume Suroth will have a total flaky melt down when she finds out, but by then our little party will be long gone. As a side note: I was pleased to see Balwer doing the decent thing and helping to rescue her. Good for him!

I thought the whole renunciation thing was a little strange, because if nobody knows about it then it is rather pointless. However, I can understand why it might have made Morgase feel as if she was protecting Andor by giving away her control of the nation. Ironically, Elayne already thinks that her mother is dead and will take the throne as if she has the right to do so when she gets to Caemlyn.

3. I guess we can assume that the Seanchan were that storm that Nynaeve could detect. What did you make of their attack on the Fortress of Light? Our previous impression of Suroth was that she was wildly overconfident about capturing Rand: do these latest events change your opinion?

I know that Ebou Dar is still a little way from the Fortress of Light, but I have to assume that they are sweeping across the continent very quickly because they certainly caught the Whitecloaks snoozing. I was very impressed by their total obliteration of the defenses, although their use of flying transport does give them a little bit of an unfair advantage. Of course, the Damane are pretty useful as well, so it was no surprise that they captured the Fortress so quickly. This does not bode well for any other defense that might try to stand against them until Rand shows up with a sizeable fore of both male and female channelers.

As I said above, Suroth seems crazy to me. The fact that she wastes her time training nobles to do complex dances suggests that she is not concentrating on what is really important. I know that the sight shook Morgase to her core, but it speaks to me of overconfidence and arrogance. It also makes me move her almost to the front of the queue of ‘people who need to meet some balefire’.

4. Sneaky! Although I hate a writer doing this, I was happy to discover that the fight between Rand and Perrin was a way to distract their enemies. How successful do you think Perrin will be at finding Masema and subduing the Dragonsworn? I am getting truly sick of it, so any ideas on how and when the whole Faile / Berelain thing will be resolved?  

I doubt that it will be too difficult to discover where Masema is preaching his personal form of crazy. However, I am not sure how easy it will be to actually get close to the man himself. I picture him surrounded by hordes of equally unhinged crazy people who will be quite happy to die to protect him. This will make it very difficult to approach him if he assumes that Perrin is a threat of some type. Somehow, I doubt that Masema will accept any of the Rand’s instructions when they are transmitted by Perrin, because they will not agree with his own version of reality. Also, Perrin is not a greatly persuasive speaker, which will not help. Then, of course, nothing seems to go easily for poor Perrin, so there could be some complication that does not seem obvious now.

I had rather hoped that the whole bitchy, cat-fighting thing would be over by now: but no! I am growing to hope that one of these stupid women has some type of unfortunate accident so that she is removed from the equation, because they are so annoying. I suppose, for Perrin’s sake, I have to hope that Faile survives, but I do have a burning desire to smack their stupid heads together. :(

5. Fancy NOT telling Loial about the subterfuge: I could hold that against certain people, even if they are the Dragon Reborn and a sexy blacksmith! The Asha’man travelling with our favorite Ogier seems mighty untrustworthy: are they all like that or am I getting paranoid?

That was unnecessarily cruel to me: poor, poor Loial is so sensitive to the emotions of his friends! There, there, Loial: it will all turn out OK!

However, I can understand why Perrin did not want that Asha’man to know the truth because he seemed seriously dodgy to me. Plus, we all know that Loial is completely useless at subterfuge, so not telling him does make sense, even if I really, really hate it.

I am starting to really worry about the Asha’man because so many of them are so unpleasant. Now, I know that someone does not have to be nice in order to be a good person, but I worry that Taim is rubbing off on these guys. Jur Grady seems to be the only one of them that is vaguely normal, but we could be getting a biased view from Rand and Perrin. I was pleased to learnt hat Grady had Bonded his wife so that they would know that each other was fine: it seemed like such a practical and yet romantic thing to do.

6. Tylin manages to snare her ‘little rabbit’, although it seem to scare him half to death. Was I the only one chortling away at Mat’s discomfort? It seems that the plan to use Mat’s Ta’veren luckiness has paid off, but will it be that easy to simply find the Bowl?

Poor Mat: while I did find it funny to watch him squirm in his attempts to avoid Tylin, I was also aware that the situation would have been so much less funny if it had been an older man pursuing one of the Super Girls. I found myself wondering why a young man is supposed to enjoy having a woman force herself upon him, whilst we deplore the idea of men doing the same to women. Perhaps it is because we perceive men as driven only by lust and so they will take sex wherever they can get it. There is no doubt that Mat feels violated by the incident and yet I found it very funny. Somehow this really disturbs me.

It seems that Mat’s presence worked upon Reanne and made her send someone to check on the cache earlier than normal, so it could be as simple as following the woman to it. However, nothing in this series is simple, so I expect multiple issues and problems to intervene. We already know that the Seanchan are on their way and Old Cully is still sending incompetent Darkfriends against Mat, and  we have Moghedien to add to the whole mess, so who knows what will happen next.

7. Can Elayne’s chin get any higher? Whilst I find the Aes Sedai totally irritating, I am amazed that Elayne managed to browbeat them so successfully. Is this the end of the super girls being treated like idiots? How will Nynaeve cope with this sudden change in their circumstances?

Sometimes I think that Elayne must need a neck brace! :D

This scene really surprised me because we went through such a rapid transition. The whole thing about the secret of the Kin was interesting, but the determination of the Aes Sedai to punish the Super Girls for exposing something that they knew nothing about was very irritating, if predictable. However, the fact that Elayne could simply browbeat them into submission was jaw dropping. I was amazed that they could change their allegiance and power structure so easily, even though we saw a similar shift in power when Bera and Kiruna took the control of the Salidar embassy from Merana. Although I feel gratified that the Super Girls might now be treated with some respect, it makes me uneasy that the Aes Sedai can become so subservient so quickly.

I suspect that Nynaeve will think that they are only being humored and that the Sisters are simply toying with them. I also expect her to resort to her usual reactions to stress: anger and braid pulling! :D 

8. Ooooooo, Moghedien tried to totally kill someone in a little boat. Is there any doubt at all that it is Nynaeve? Will Lan get there in time to save her or will she pull her braid out trying to make the water get out of her way?

It has to be Nynaeve. Firstly, we know that Moghedien really, REALLY hates her and that hatred is about the only thing that would make her ignore her orders from Moridin and risk death (or worse). Secondly, we were told several times that Nynaeve was away on her own errand at that time, and it makes sense that she would be travelling out to speak with the Sea Folk.

I am not sure if we have been told about Nynaeve’s ability to swim. However, even if she is a strong swimmer, the shock of being plunged into the river so suddenly will make it difficult for her to orientate herself. She will also be tangled up in her clothing and the remains of the little cabin, which could trap her under the water for some time while she works out what is happening. Even if Lan was on the dock ready to dive in, could he truly swim out to her and save her before she drowned and how would he know that she was in trouble anyway?

As far as I can see, the only possible way that she can escape is for the shock and terror to break through her block so that she can somehow channel herself out of trouble. But I am not sure! Arggghhhhhh!!!!


  1. 1. Well, we have his identity in the sense that we have a name, but no more than that really. First, it is very unlikely that he's a recently promoted Forsaken, since from his PoV last week he demonstrated knowledge of some Age of Legends things, and it seems he knows Sammael relatively well. I'm going to suggest that he is a reincarnation, which makes this a perfect moment to do a Forsaken round-up, since I forgot at the end of last book.

    Alive and at large: Aran'gar (ex-Balthamel, with Egwene), Osan'gar (ex-Aginor, unknown), Demandred (unknown), Messaana (in Tar Valon most likely), Semirhage (unknown), Moghedien (last seen in Ebou Dar, chastised by Moridin), Graendal (unknown but possibly in Arad Doman), Sammael (in Illian, doing his own thing).

    Dead and not coming back: Rahvin, Be'lal, Asmodean (99.9% sure).

    Dead and potentially up for reincarnation: Ishamael.

    Totally up in the air: Lanfear.

    In fact, if Moridin is a reincarnated Forsaken, there aren't very many people he could be. But we actually have more clues. Moridin appears to be favoured in some way. He worked together with Shaidar Haran to subjugate Moghedien, but we've seen SH commanding all the other Forsaken he's met (Semirhage and the two 'gars). Add to that his access to the True Power, and it doesn't seem like Moridin is some regular baddie.

    I also want to draw your attention to the fact that Moghedien spotted Moridin with a second mindtrap…

    2. Indeed, as PG-13 as the Wheel of Time is, there are some pretty grim things going on behind the scenes. It was implied that Moghedien was repeatedly molested by Shaidar Haran while in her cell, and now it's quite bluntly stated that Morgase was raped by Eamon Valda. Curious that both of these should take place on the same week, actually, which brings me to question six, but more on that later!

    I have absolute faith in Sebban Balwer and his ability to work magic. I think I mentioned when he was introduced that he's an unexpectedly nice and capable fellow, and we see some of that here.

    3. This was a real demonstration of power from the Seanchan. They seem to be back and this time they're not playing around. The vaunted Fortress of the Light never stood a chance, and they've managed to subjugate Tarabon to the point where Taraboner soldiers are in their service.

    And, you know, for all the eerie submissiveness I can appreciate a relatively well-oiled state that knows what it's about, in this sea of weird and incapable rulers of Randland. Now with the White Tower incapacitated and half the other nations in civil war or chaos or I don't even know what, probably Rand is the only ruler with the necessary strength to repel the invaders.

    As far as Suroth and Rand goes, I will at least say that she deserves to be listed as a genuine threat. She certainly have the resources to do seize him, but is perhaps lacking in opportunity.

    I really liked how RJ wrote this battle from the point of view of the civilians who had no idea what was going on until it was over. A rarer point of view.

    Amathera: yeesh! You didn't deserve this!

    4. Yeah, the picture of Rand and Perrin at odds was not a pretty one. :(

    Aaaaand… so beings the STORYLINE OF DOOM!!! I think if you polled the fandom, Perrin from book 8 (maybe 9) through 11 will sail up as a good candidate for the most dreaded chapters of them all. Although I don't quite agree with that, there's a certain other storyline I fear more. Maybe Liesel can guess which. o_O

    In any case, I'm sure you guys will be able to decide for yourself.

    I wonder what possessed Rand to send Berelain along with them. I can appreciate that he's blind to the tension, but this seems like a recipe for disaster. Maybe Rand is secretly a darkfriend?

    Actually I don't think you would believe me even if I told you how this storyline will pan out and how it will eventually be resolved. So just lean back and enjoy the show…

    1. 5. Yeah, there's an air of grim hanging over every Asha'man. It's not so difficult to understand why either. It's been hammered into their head since day one that what they are is the most evil thing in existence, and that the best thing for themselves and everyone around them is to have them put down like animals. And now they've been rounded up by the Dragon Reborn who has instructed them to become… not people, but weapons, tools. Presumably the only people who will recognise the humanity of the Asha'man are themselves, and so they're stuck on the farm watching friends go helplessly mad as they train to kill. Hardly a cheery situation, and I think it will become clear, slowly but surely, that Rand has mismanaged them somewhat.

      Although I will say now that several of the Asha'man will grow into great characters, and some of them feature among my favourites. I have a particular soft spot for Grady.

      To Karldin and Loial I say good luck on your trip. I regret to say it's a while until we will see them again. :(

      6. Featuring among the great WoT-discussions (such pearls as Who Killed Asmodean and What Is Verin Up To Anyway) is the great flamewar of 1996 on the Usenet RJ group, which I was much too young to experience first-hand, about whether or not Tylin raped Mat.

      From today's point of view it seems clear that she did. Read through the passage again with the genders swapped and it gets quite grisly indeed. Then again, in the context of the story, none of the characters thinks in these terms. Even Mat, actually, considers it as a semi-comical reversal of fortunes for the ladies' man. Certainly there was no malice involved from Tylin's side. But it's curious that in spite of the effort RJ put into keeping direct on-screen rape out of his story (see question two), that we have this very untypical scene. Probably he didn't even think in those terms when writing it, and he did not predict the impact it would have.

      Anyway, enough about that. I guess it's obvious now why Liesel and I had some reservations in accepting Tylin as a hands-down good Queen.

      Actually the most uncomfortable part for me were the nicknames. Duckling, piglet, lambkin? I was squirming! I don't mind being called nicknames, but I'd rather have them of the non-cutesy kind. Maybe it's a guy thing.

      So now after not answering the question whatsoever: let's just say it will be relatively easy to LOCATE the Bowl, but while Nynaeve's storm might not be the Epic Showdown, rest assured that there will still be an Epic Showdown!

      7. A funny thing about Elayne's chin: I don't know if you recall, but during book four as the girls were wandering around Tanchico with veils (being the local fashion), Elayne kept complaining that she got hers stuck in the mouth all the time, which didn't happen with the others. Apparently this was because she is literally walking around with her chin raised all the time. :)

      At least as far as this group of Aes Sedai are concerned, I do not believe that Elayne will let this advantage slip. She might have a harder time with others. If she ever meets Cadsuane, say, I do not expect any amount of chin to be sufficient.

      8. No doubt, it is Nynaeve. I won't say what happens but I think both Liesel and I are really looking forward to the resolution of this; it's one of those classical scenes that stay with you. Pretty cool that we got a cliffhanger, actually.

      Other: I've noticed that I write much longer and better answers if I don't read anyone's elses first. Since I always comment on someone's blog post that's usually what I've ended up doing, but I think I'll do it like this from now on.

    2. Ah, the storyline of doom. Actually, I'm not sure which other one you mean at the moment--I can think of several that got complaints--but I'm sure I'll realize as we get closer to it. As for Perrin, I never knew why everyone griped so much. Okay, maybe I do, but I never felt that negatively about it. Of course, the first time I read it, I got caught up to the published books about book 8, so maybe I was just always excited to get a new installment. And I totally agree that the worst part of the Mat/Tylin relationships is her nicknames. Talk about emasculating him! Heck, I feel emasculated when she does that!

    3. I'm thinking about Elayne and her bats.

    4. 1. I was hoping that Moridin would at least be a male Forsaken, rather than Lanfear reincarnated as a man, because one gender-bending Forsaken is more than enough, thank you! He does seem to have been raised above at least 1 of the other Forsaken, so I guess that he is the Chosen One or some such.

      I guess the second mind trap could deb just about anybody . . .

      2. I didn't pick up on Moghedien being sexually assaulted by Shaidar Haran, but he gives me the willys anyway. :(

      3. Very true: it is so nice to see a well-oiled military machine working properly. I still think he Seanchan are overconfident, as we saw in Falme, and so are not invincible. I hope that Rand manages to persuade them to join him against the Dark One rather than having to fight them as well as the Shaido and the Forsaken-led armies.

      4. Crumbs: the Storyline of Doom . . . that sounds encouraging! :D

      I almost did a forehead slap when Berelain trotted through that gateway. Why would Perrin agree to her coming along???

      5. I can't help thinking that Taim was a seriously bad choice as their leader: event he Aes Sedai aren't this miserable!

      No Loial for ages???? NO!!!!!! :(

      6. I have no doubt that she raped him, but I suppose it depends upon your definition of rape and whether or not you believe that a woman can actually rape a man. Even afterwards Mat didn't seem to happy about it, so I tend to see it as rape. He was obviously very uncomfortable with the whole thing and didn't seem to be a willing participant. However, I agree that Tylin didn't intend to rape him: she comes from a culture where men play hard to get, I assume.

      7. I'd forgotten about Elayne and the veil in her mouth - LOL! :D

      8. The cliffhanger was a Mat-sized piece of luck, I think!

    5. thanks for that Forsaken round up. For us Newbies, I think that is helpful in keeping plotlines clear and reminding us who has met a permanent demise.

      True, the Seanchan have their shit together and really know how to pull off an invasion. Perhaps after Rand subjugates or throws them out, he will take on a handful as military advisers.

      Hasn't Perrin already had some pretty harrowing chapters? Thinking of Two Rivers, Fain, the Whitecloaks, the massacres, etc. Oh my, I am concerned......

      I can see why the Tylin/Mat 'relationship' created all sorts of discussion. I wonder how many men, percentage wise, have fantasies of being with a very aggressive female in the bedroom? Is this a scene the male readers enjoyed? Or did they squirm? I see it as rape and with Mat still being uncomfortable after the act, and Tylin pursued him further, well...she's no longer 'innocent' of malicious intent.

    6. Yeah, Perrin seems to have had a fairly rough ride so far - he has lost his family and all those cute wolves . . . poor lad! :(

      I think there is a perception that men can't really be raped by a woman . . . that they have to enjoy it really otherwise they can't 'perform'. This seems to be part of the whole idea that men are just sex-obsessed dogs with no emotional needs . . .

  2. Actually, the DO can't mediate the effects of the True Power. We won't learn more about this until later, but the black sa'a on his eyes are evidence of this. But more on that later. The whole Nynaeve-swimming-in-her-skirts situation will be taken care of in the very next chapter, and it's pretty awesome! :D

    1. So using the True Power is permanently damaging . . . that seems a little harsh.

      I was expecting Nynaeve to be rescued / survive fairly quickly so I'll look forward to it! :D

  3. Valda and his nasty little ways. Yes, this makes me like the Whitecloaks even less. Who would have thought I would be missing what's his face? The one they assassinated - he at least would not have forced Morgase into his bed.

    I also don't see Perrin as particularly least not until he unslings his axe. So I don't think the little chat with Masema will go without bloodshed. Still, could be fun to read. :)

    I also liked that Grady and his wife chose to Bond so that they would always have that homing beacon for one another. Tis not a bad idea for all those capable of Bonding, provided they have someone they can trust the deeply, someone that wouldn't be used against them.

    I too found Tylin's aggressive behavior disturbing. Mat obviously wasn't into it and that whole episode took Tylin from a competent ruler I could respect & like to one who needs to be dropped on an island, alone, for the rest of her life.

    I like the idea of Nynaeve and Lan both in the middle of the river, soaking wet, partially clothed. That sounds like a great reunion. Oh, and lampreys. There need to be lampreys. Just to liven things up. ;)

    1. Lampreys… I don't even… of all the vile creatures…

    2. Yeah, lampreys would be very bad . . . :D


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