Sunday, February 9, 2014

A Crown of Swords by Robert Jordan: Week 7

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 37

1) We finally have Nynaeve and Lan reunited. What did you think of the circumstances of their fateful meeting? Will Lan ever be whole?

To be honest, I was quite disappointed by Nynaeve’s escape from the upturned boat. It was all over and done with so quickly, whereas I was expecting a little more sense of threat and imminent death. I thought that Nynaeve would panic and spend a little more time drowning before her survival instincts kicked in. Perhaps that did actually happen in ‘book time’ but it seemed very brief in the time it took to read it and so I was left feeling a little cheated. Plus we did not really get a good description of Lan with water slowly running down his chiseled chest and abs . . . sorry, I drifted off there for a minute! :D

However, I thought that Nynaeve’s reaction to his arrival was pretty much what I had expected. I am a little concerned that he is still so cold and remote, but she is the only one* who has any chance of repairing the damage done to him by Moiraine’s death. I am not sure how long it will take him to heal, but I expect Nynaeve to beat him into being normal again, even if he is stubbornly refusing to cooperate.

*Min mentions that Moiraine is vital to Rand’s success and is confused because the Aes Sedai is dead and so cannot fulfill that viewing. This suggests to me, very heavily, that Moiraine is not actually dead and will reappear at some point to save the day. This does not explain why Lan cannot ‘feel’ her, but I assume that she is still in the dimension through the doorway, so perhaps that is sufficient to block their Link. Of course, this also suggests that Lanfear might not be dead . . . boo!

2) Reanna Corly reveals the number of the Kin to Elayne after being told the Tower will accept any woman who can channel even the teensiest bit. 1,783 Kin. What do you think the ramifications of this will be?

I was not overly surprised by the number because we have seen the Salidar Aes Sedai taking in large numbers of women now that Egwene has altered their criteria. We have even seen hundreds of Asha’man, and they have been hunted out of existence for the past three thousand years, so you would expect them to be much less numerous. Also, many of the Kin are much older than the women normally tested by the Sisters when they go out looking for candidates, and I have to assume that some of them have reproduced, which should also produce extra candidates.

I suspect that the number of Kin will have a huge impact upon the Aes Sedai and their ideas of their self-importance. Whilst I understand that they are rigorous with their testing in order to make sure that women are capable of sufficient control and dedication for their place as Aes Sedai, it strikes me as amazingly stupid to simply throw away those who do not quite pass those tests. Surely the Tower should have been making use of these women for centuries: not giving them Aes Sedai status, but creating a secondary rank that could provide them with a position and role to fulfill. It just demonstrates how arrogant the Aes Sedai have been for a very long time, even though their numbers have been falling steadily.

Accepting the Kin will be very difficult for many of the Sisters, but it is a necessary step, both for increasing their numbers to support Rand and also to support any woman who has the spark and giving her a useful role in life. Such waste is absurd, even in peacetime, but in the approach to the Last Battle, it makes no sense at all. One other consideration is the Seanchan. We can be very sure that they would find every last one of these women and make her damane: thus every one brought into Rand’s camp is one less weapon for his enemy.

3) Corvarla returns to the White Tower and Elaida, with Alviarin in the room, finally learns of Rand's escape. What is driving Alviarin to blackmail Elaida? What do you think Elaida will ultimately do in response?

How much did I laugh during Elaida’s dream? Quite a lot, because I am evil and think that she deserves ever humiliation that she receives! Bwahahahahaha!! :P

Alviarin has been told by Mesaana to get Elaida under her thumb, so that is the simple answer. But I also think that Alviarin is rather disgusted by Elaida’s delusional so-called leadership of the Tower and is more than happy to squash her like a bug. Can you tell that I am not a big fan of our delightful Amyrlin?

Ultimately, Elaida may expose some of the Black Ajah, because the woman that she has set on their trail seems competent, but I suspect that we will never get that far. We know that the rebels are closing in on the Tower, and when they arrive Elaida will have even more trouble clinging on to power. Apart from overthrowing Siuan, which I think was mostly choreographed by Mesaana and the Black Ajah, I do not think that Elaida has actually accomplished very much so far, and I expect that to continue.

4) So Min and Rand FINALLY talk about their night together. Amused? Irritated?

I am glad that they cleared the air and can now move forward with some sort of understanding.

I do understand Rand’s embarrassment about what happened, and his belief that he did something wrong, because he views women as powerless victims. I do not agree with his assessment, but I understand how his upbringing, where men protect women and do not prey upon them, has conditioned him to think that way. I also understand why he sees any person associated with him as a target for the Forsaken. Again, I do not agree that he needs to isolate himself in order to protect them, but I can understand the poor, confused woolhead. Plus, I share his discomfort at the idea of multiple life partners.

I worry that he is not allowing people to support him emotionally and he is showing some very classic examples of behavior associated with depression and PTSD. Even a normal person needs help with this psychological damage, but he is a man who is destined to go mad and possibly destroy the world, so his mental health is incredibly important. By letting Min stay with him I hope that he has made the decision that some people can be trusted and are useful simply because of how they affect his emotional wellbeing.

5) Rand finally deigns to visit the Atha'an Miere and he takes along Min, and a few 'tame' Aes Sedai (Merana & Rafela). What did you make of the negotiations?

I loved the way that his ta’veren effect caught them off guard and moved things along so smoothly. Of course, the Aes Sedai played their part very well, and I was quite pleased to see Merana reinstated in her position as lead negotiator. It always bothered me that a woman with a proven skill for negotiation had been unceremoniously replaced by others simply because they were stronger channelers. Merana was specifically chosen for her skills, not her strength. This is yet another point of Aes Sedai stupidity and arrogance.

I appreciated finding out why Rand had been ignoring the invitations. A few weeks ago we were complaining about his apparent rudeness in ignoring them, but he actually had a good reason all along. As above, I do not agree with his reasoning, but I can understand his motivations.

6) Once again, Rand feels the need to disappear without telling the Aiel. And into the woods he and Min go....where they run into the head of the rebels, Lady Caraline Damodred. Why do you think Lady Caraline lied about his identity? Do you think that this whole segment was the Pattern pushing Rand along?

Can someone please slap Rand next time he decides to head off without back up? I know that it would probably have made no difference to the outcome of this little jaunt, but it would make me feel less nervous.

I suppose that Caraline could have been influenced by the ta’veren effect that we saw earlier, but it seemed as if she was rather impressed by Rand himself. As with Dyelin, she is probably a rebel simply becasue she does not want someone dictating what Andor can and cannot do. We saw Dyelin come around after speaking to Rand, so it could be a similar thing here. She obviously believes that the men are much less reasonable and biased than she is, and so provided Rand with a way to avoid confrontation.

I am not sure if this was the Pattern at work, but there did seem to be a surprisingly high number of significant people in the same place at the same time. It allowed Rand to very quickly remove the objections of a few high ranking rebels and also tie him to Cadsuane in a way that I think will be very important.

7) And then the tentacular fog disrupts the hunting feast and swordplay. Where do you think this came from? Cadsuane got some good page time in this section. Did your opinion of her change?

That Fain: can someone please just kill him?

It strongly resembled the Mashadar found in Shadar Logoth, home of the nasty dagger and the even nastier Mordeth, aka Padan Fain. It makes sense that Fain would jump at the opportunity to kill Rand and be totally oblivious to the collateral damage caused.

I was rather impressed with Cadsuane, but I did not really change my opinion of her because I had already concluded that she was competent, sensible and talented. However, it was really enjoyable to watch Aes Sedai in fighting mode and kicking some serious evil tentacle!

8) Rand manages to become mortally wounded and it takes an Asha'man to heal him. Do you see a future for Flinn and Samitsu (the Aes Sedai who felt the need to pick his brain afterwards)?

Good grief, Rand: are you going to make to the Last Battle in one piece?

I really enjoyed seeing Flinn doing some epic healing, mainly because it is nice to know that the Asha’man can do something other than kill and maim. I wonder if his innate ability for channeling is what let him survive forty years in the army?

I nearly spat out my coffee when Samitsu said that she would bear a child for him if necessary: that is a very serious offer! However, I doubt that we will see a romance developing there because they will both be too busy with the Last Battle and fighting the Dark One and his minions . . .


  1. I too wish the book had spent just a little more time and description on Lan's partially clothed attempts to rescue Nynaeve. Sigh....

    Yes, if Min's viewings about Moiraine are correct (and so far there is nothing to indicated they are ever wrong), then I expect her and Lanfear to both pop up again. Perhaps bursting into another dimension Stills an Aes Sedai? Would that destroy a Bond to a Warder?

    Good point about the Seanchan making use of any woman who can channel. So, either Egwene/Rand make use of the channelers, or their enemies.

    I am looking forward to seeing what the Sea Folk bring to the table for Rand and crew. Besides being able to move troops and act as scouts, etc., will they allow their Windfinders to be used in land battles?

    I really want to slap Rand too for not taking some Aiel along. In the least, they could possibly have cut down on the collateral damage caused by Fain and his pet fog beastie. But I guess the Aiel would have been a positive giveaway as to his ID.

    I laughed out loud when Samitsu offered to bear Flinn's child. That was great. Very amusing.

    1. Semi-naked Lan . . . sigh, indeed! :D

      We know that Moiraine went through the doorway in Tear with no ill effect, but that wasn't in the middle of a battle with a Forsaken, so perhaps you are right about her being Stilled. I would LOVE to see Lanfear's reaction to being stilled! :D

      It is about time that Rand stopped taking stupid risks like this and remembered that the fate of the world rests upon him making it to the Last Battle. He needs to start being a little more cautious abut his personal safety rather than giving us heart failure every few chapters.

  2. Yeah, Elaida's dream was definitely laughable. In fact, it was so absurd I felt embarrassed for her. And Alviarin is definitely ruthless. I have to keep reminding myself that she's only a Darkfriend and not one of the Forsaken. You make a good point about Rand's upbringing. It's something most people don't take into account. Unfortunately, Padan Fain or some incarnation of him will be around for some time yet. :/ I laughed at Samitsu's offer as well. It was just so unexpected. I guess Aes Sedai never do anything halfway, do they? :D

    1. I almost felt sorry for Elaida . . . almost . . .

      I guess that keeping Fain around will add to the fun, but he is so creepy and unpleasant that he makes my skin crawl.

      I guess that carrying a child is the ultimate sacrifice that an Aes Sedai can offer . . . or maybe it is simply the greatest motivator for any man, in their limited understanding of the gender! :D


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