Sunday, February 16, 2014

A Crown of Swords by Robert Jordan: Week 8

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 the book

1. In the Rahad we get a bit of a jumble as Ispan and Falion attack downstairs while the gholam cleaned up upstairs. With so many to choose from, who is ultimately behind this mess? Could the two be coordinated attacks or are they unrelated? Were you surprised that Joline and Teslyn (apparently) didn't interfere (yet)?

We know that Ispan and Falion are working for Moghedien, more or less, though the last time we caught up with them they were trying to decide if she was still alive. It seems that they finally decided to do what she had ordered and try to find the stash, presumably with the hope that she would eventually turn up and reward them for their success. If only they had managed to do that . . .

When Carridin had his visit from Sammael, the Forsaken mentioned sending someone to deal with the Aes Sedai. At the time we had just seen the gholam in action and I assumed that Sammael was controlling it. I can see why he would send it to complete this mission: it seems to be very competent, which is not something that we can say about the Black Ajah or the Darkfriends . . . or even some of the Forsaken! :D

I had almost forgotten about Elaida’s embassy! I assume that they are too busy trying to avoid capture by the Seanchan to be a problem at the moment. However, I am not sure where they were when the attack on the stash occurred. I assume that if they avoid being shoved into a’dam then they will make themselves a nuisance as usual.

2. The gholam: Immune to the Power and to blades, with superhuman strength and rubber man abilities, only known weakness is Mat's medallion. What are your thoughts on this latest addition to the Shadow's arsenal? How could this creature possibly be defeated? Will it try to avoid Mat and cause mayhem somewhere else or does it maybe have a desire for revenge?

It seems like the perfect killing machine: no wonder there were only six made!

It is difficult to see how it could be defeated, even with a dozen Mats with a dozen medallions. I wonder if balefire might be able to affect it, but somehow I doubt it, because nothing else made with the One Power is effective. I suppose it might be susceptible to the True Power, although that is also unlikely, so the only option I see is to cage it somehow. Presumably it was only just released from a stasis box or something similar, otherwise we would have encountered it much earlier in the series. However, I doubt that it would return voluntarily, and I have no idea how it could be forced into one. Perhaps it can be trapped in Tel’aran’rhiod or in a parallel world, accessed by the Portal Stones?

It would make sense for it to try to avoid Mat and his medallion, because it was genuinely hurt by him. However, I can see how it would be very curious about the one thing that can actually cause it harm and possibly become obsessed with Mat. It may decide to remove him because it wants revenge or simply to remove something that could be used to fight it. It is acting under orders, so it will still be in Ebou Dar if that is where it has been told to be, although it may bend its orders to suit its own designs.

3. It seems Elayne and Nynaeve are now left heading a jolly mix of Aes Sedai, Kinswomen and Sea Folk channelers (and Lan… poor guy), heading for a farm not far out of Ebou Dar. With the Seanchan invasion, there is no turning back, but do they even know? Can they escape? Where do they even go? How about the nearly 2000 kinswomen who are about to be seized by the Seanchan?

I imagine that they might have detected all those damane wielding the One Power in the attack or seen some of the flying creatures that they will recognize from Falme. Fortunately, it seems like the majority of the attack is coming from the sea, so they may have been able to slip past the land army and get to the farm unscathed.

At that point, knowing precisely what is in store for any woman who can channel,
I expect Elayne and Nynaeve to evacuate through a gateway ASAP. We know that you must know the target area relatively well when creating a gateway, so I expect them to head to Caemlyn because I imagine that Elayne will be doing the weaving. I can only hope that most of the Kin have made it to the farm and can escape with them.

4. With all the girls gone, Mat and the men are stuck in Ebou Dar with uncertain fate as the “storm” breaks, and the dice stop rolling in the same moment. Please speculate here on Mat's future and the reasons why he must stay behind.

I have six words to answer this question: the Daughter of the Nine Moons!

We know that he mentioned this phrase to a Seanchan spy some time ago and it was met with recognition. This suggests that it is a title conferred on the Empress or another high-ranking member of her family, much like Queen Elizabeth is also called the Duchess of Lancaster, and only those within Seanchan society would know this alternate way of addressing her. I guess she and Mat will have some face time pretty soon. 

Plus it makes the story more interesting if he has to fight his way past an entire army to get Olver to safety . . .

5. Sammael sees fit to trick the Shaido into scattering themselves over a large area roughly in Ghaeldan, Altara and Illian, but not before giving them an Oath Rod! Incidentally this is where almost all of our heroes are at the moment. What do you predict for them and this trio of distasteful women (Sevanna, Therava, Galina)? Which storyline could they mess up next?

This seems like quite a good plan from Sammael, for a change! He has realized that Sevanna is a liability, but this allows him to cause chaos and confusion whilst getting her out of his hair. She and the other groups of Shaido will not only bring war to the areas where they arrive, but they will seem to be Rand’s Aiel and therefore cause mistrust of his calls for unification. Ultimately, they should be cut down in their smaller groups, but they will cause a huge disruption until that happens.

I think most of our heroes are out of Altara now, because the rebel Aes Sedai must have almost reached Tar Valon by now. There is a monstrously large army in Illian, so I doubt that the Shaido will make much headway there. However, we know that Perrin and his smaller band are in Ghealdan looking for the Prophet, so they seem like a possible target for annoyance. I just hope that we do not end up with a three-way cat fight between Faile, Berelain and Sevanna! :D

6. Rand wastes no time after waking and promptly brings the hammer down on Illian while Sammael thinks he's out cold. Do you agree with this gambit? How would you rate this attack compared to the last time Rand stormed a forsaken's lair (Rahvin)? What do you think about Sammael's decision to retreat to Shadar Logoth?

What did I say last week about not going rushing off without proper support???? Sometimes I get the impression that Rand is not listening to me! :D

Of course, I can understand the strategic advantage of attacking when he is supposed to be dying in bed, but I am pretty sure that his plan would have worked anyway. He was relying upon the fact that Sammael was all snuggled up in the city with a million traps surrounding him, like a spider in his web. Rand could have tripped those traps at anytime to draw Sammael out: the need for surprise was almost redundant and being able to stand up unsupported might have been helpful. Silly Rand!

The retreat to Shadar Logoth was rather inspired, although I cannot imagine that Sammael wanted to let Rand die by another’s hand. I am pretty sure that he wanted Rand kneeling and begging whilst he blasted little bits of his body off very slowly. Sammael’s need for revenge has been smoldering for a long time, so I would expect him to be rather disappointed if Rand accidentally got killed by Mashadar.

7. While duelling in Shadar Logoth, Rand runs into a mysterious figure (the “Wanderer”). What do you make of this fellow? Friend or foe?

At first I thought it might be Logain, although I had no idea what he might be doing in Shadar Logoth. Then they had that Ghostbusters moment when they crossed their beams and Rand realized that the Wanderer was not using saidin. That seemed to leave me with two alternatives: either the man was an hallucination of some sort, or it was the chap we saw a few weeks ago who was channeling the True Power.

As he actually seemed to help Rand out of that hole, it seems unlikely that he was imaginary. However, we know that the man channeling the True Power is Moridin: one of the Forsaken. This seems to make a very little sense: why would he try to save Rand? However, we know that the Dark One’s standing order is NOT to kill Rand, so he is simply following orders unlike some of the other Forsaken. Perhaps his ability to put his orders above petty emotion is one of the reasons that he has been placed above the other Forsaken.

8. Rand eventually kills Sammael and is granted the throne of Illian, giving his personal empire a direct border with the Seanchan invaders (or at least soon enough), setting the stage for a spectacular show. How do you think this will come about? Will they have to be defeated, or do you think Suroth can be reasoned with?

I have to say that I was somewhat bemused by Sammael’s ‘death’. It was by no means clear that he had actually died and I would have liked to have seen something more definitive. After all the build up and posturing from Sammael, this seemed very anticlimactic to me. I felt immensely sorry for poor Liah and I have no idea how she had survived in Shadar Logoth for so long without being able to escape. I know that Rand will blame himself for her death, but she saved his life and helped to destroy one of the Forsaken, so I imagine that her ghost would be proud.

The Seanchan are on the border of Illian . . . if only Rand had a huge army in position, just waiting to fight them off . . . However, I doubt that even the army in Illian will crush the Seanchan with any ease, mainly because of the damane. Unfortunately, I doubt that Suroth will be open to negotiation, but perhaps Mat’s Daughter of the Nine Moons will be able to speak with more authority and ally the Seanchan with Rand against the Dark One. If that alliance does not come about, the Light is probably doomed!


  1. A three-way cat fight between Faile, Berelain and Sevanna would definitely be worth seeing. :D Althought, I gotta say, if it was a physical cat fight, Faile would probably cut the other two to ribbons before they realized what was happening. You gotta love it when the character (ahem, Rand) won't listen to the sensible suggestions that us, the readers, throw their way. :D Well, on to book 8! :D

  2. I wonder if the gholam can be controlled by a mindtrap, like Moghedien is currently experiencing?

    I like your idea of Elayne making a gateway and she and Nynaeve fleeing. Perhaps they will try to take as many Kinswomen as possible too?

    i kind of want to see a three-way cat fight between Berelain, Faile, and Sevanna. I think Faile and Berelain would team up temporarily to take out Sevanna, not that either alone couldn't take her.

    I too wanted a more definitive death from Sammael. I keep telling Rand to collect the heads, even if he buries them later at a different location. Sigh.....Practicalities were not on Rand's mind, as tired and drained as he was, having just arisen from his Death bed.

    1. The mind trap is a distinct possibility, and Moridin seems to be determined to keep Rand alive so that might explain why it only attacked Fel in Cairhien.

      I sincerely hope that the super girls save all those Kinswomen from the Seanchan - otherwise I will be very cross with them! :D

      There was something disturbingly ambiguous about Sammael's death - I really hope that he is actually dead and not just hiding.


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