Wednesday, March 12, 2014

The Path of Daggers by Robert Jordan: Week 3

(Yes, I know that my post last week was labeled Week 3 . . . it seems that I need to brush up on my counting skills! :D) 

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 15

1. Winter is finally here, and Perrin gets a whole country from Santa, even if it's a small and war-torn one. What a jolly mix of unwilling rulers, weak rulers, strong rulers, sexy rulers and ex-rulers… never mind the Prophet! What will this look like when Perrin gets back to Rand, whenever that could be?

At least most of the rulers are sane and rational . . . not two words that I associate with the Prophet or his followers!

It seems that Alliandre falls into the category of sensible ruler. She is willing to do what she sees as necessary to protect her people, which certainly earns her more of my sympathy than some or the detached power-hungry ones that we have met. I know that she has had to deal with the Prophet, and so she has a better understanding of the danger at hand, but I just wish that some of the others would put their petty bickering aside and get on with saving the world.

I am still not sure what Perrin is going to do about Masema: somehow I do not expect the Dragonsworn to suddenly become a useful force in service of the Light. I am very doubtful that Masema will want to relinquish the power he has accrued to anyone other than the Dragon himself . . . and I am not even sure that he would really want to pass it to Rand. The whole situation is going to be a horrible mess, and I do not envy Perrin’s task of trying to reach an agreement with such a powerful lunatic. If Perrin manages to get back to Rand with a peaceful resolution I will be very surprised.

Then there are the Seanchan marching over the horizon and there are also these rumors of the Aiel, which must surely be the Shaido: I foresee a messy time ahead.

2. Moridin appears to be marshaling the efforts of the dark side. Do you think they'll be more successful now that they're under unified leadership? Now that Cyndane is here, I challenge you all to guess the identities of her and Moridin. Are you expecting any more forsaken to show up?

Moridin does seem to be slightly less rubbish than most of the other Forsaken, so he has a marginally better chance of succeeding. However, I suspect that he is still on the losing side: it is going to be terrible and hard fought, but the Light will win out in the end, otherwise I will be very surprised. Of course, he is unifying them by using mindtraps and threats, so I am quite sure that his new ‘recruits’ will turn on him as soon as they can. This is never a recipe for waging a successful war, although it does increase the entertainment value quite considerably. Certainly, the new organization cannot be any less effective than the Forsaken have already been.

We already know that Forsaken can be reborn, so I am placing a rather large bet on Cyndane’s true identity as Lanfear. I will also add a side bet that she is being controlled by the second mindtrap. The meaning of her name (Last Chance) seems rather significant, given that Lanfear often seemed to work against the Dark One’s best interests in her attempts to seduce Rand. Of course, this adds more weight to the suggestion that Moiraine is still alive, somehow, so I am happy to go with my guess at the moment. Also, Cyndane’s strength with the One Power and general ‘I am the rightful ruler of the world’ demeanor seems to add weight to my assumption. At one point we saw both Moghedien and Cyndane display the same reaction that we have seen the Spider give to the mindtrap being stroked. Somehow, I doubt that the Dark One would let Lanfear run around loose after being so useless and deceptive in the past.

3. The long-awaited meeting between Cadsuane and Sorilea took place. Was it everything you hoped for? What's your opinion on their common quest?

There were certainly far fewer barbs than I had expected. However, I guess that it makes sense that they would assess each other and then decide to be cordial and respectful. These are probably the most forceful women that we have encountered, with the possible expectation of Lini, so it makes sense that they would acknowledge each other as an opponent worthy of great respect.

I like the way that some of the best people in this series are not the most pleasant. Both Sorilea and Cadsuane can see the endgame of Rand’s life and they want to make sure that he gets there and fulfills his destiny. They might not agree on quite what that destiny entails, but they will move heaven and earth to see that he has the best opportunity to succeed. This makes me respect them both a very great deal: just as we saw with Siuan, and now with Egwene, there are some people who are able to do what is necessary no matter how unpleasant it is.

I think that they are quite right to worry about Rand’s hardness. He is close to madness caused by the abuse that he suffered at the hands of the Tower Aes Sedai. He needs to relearn trust and compassion so that he does not throw his life away needlessly. I suspect that Min will be great help in this effort: and getting Elayne and Aviendha back within kissing distance will not do any harm either!

4. The latest status report from the Black Tower reveals a good number of deserters, madmen and losses to accidents. Do you feel like Rand has control of the situation? He reveals that he's thinking about cleansing Saidin, that he asked the Aelfinn about it but doesn't understand their answer. Do you expect him to be able to, and if so how? Could this help the Black Tower situation somehow?

I have to say that I do not feel as if Rand has much control of anything at the moment. He seems to have so many things to think about that it could all slip away from his grasp so easily. Everything about Taim makes me distrust him immensely and wish that Logain would hurry up and resurface to take over as the head of the Black Tower. Even the fact that Taim has adopted a name makes me think Forsaken!

Cleansing saidin was something that he discussed with Fel, and it certainly seems like a very good idea to me. I believe that it would remove the inevitability of the men going mad, which would be a huge benefit to Rand, but would also stop him second guessing himself all the time. No doubt the Aelfinn were remarkably unhelpful with their hints about how to accomplish this feat. I would guess that it would require a huge amount of Power, possibly from both men and women, and need the use of very powerful angreal. Other than that, I have no clue.

Removing the threat of the Taint would revolutionize the use of saidin and make male channelers acceptable again. It would certainly take time for this change to spread throughout the world, but I imagine that the men in the Black Tower would be more than a little relieved.

5. Egwene is back, and she has a plan involving the Andoran border defense force somehow. Any guesses as to what's on her mind?

I cannot see how she could hope to persuade them to join with her own army, but perhaps that is what she intends. It would seem that the most obvious outcome that she wants is for them to leave her army alone as they pass through Andor. Whatever happens, I am glad that Gareth Bryne is totally loyal to Egwene.

6. Galina is forced to swear obedience on an oath rod, and a few chapters later we see Egwene and Siuan debate the relevance of the oaths for Aes Sedai (which is not to lie, not to make weapons, and not to use the power as a weapon). If I'm not mistaken it's the first time we see how it works (it's physically impossible for Galina to disobey). What are your thoughts on this?   

I was rather hoping that Sevanna’s oath rod was actually something else and would fry Galina during this process . . . but unfortunately not.

Although I can understand what Siuan is saying about the Aes Sedai and their reputation of being honest, we all know that they can twist the truth so much that they are barely being truthful. I can also see the oath not to attack people as a slight problem when the Seanchan march over the hill: will they have to wait for the damane to strike first?

I was fascinated by the revelations about how the Aes Sedai differ from other channelers. We know that they live longer and do not take on the ageless appearance of those who have sworn on the oath rod. Just the fact that the process damages their longevity suggests that the oath rod is not being used for its original purpose. I am not sure what it was actually designed to do, but I guess that this is one ter’angreal that is being used incorrectly somehow.

Other Thoughts

I know that the cold weather is a nice change, but I think that I have read enough about mud and frost now . . . it is getting as annoying as the sweating was before!

Faile’s plan was to kidnap Alliandre? That would have been a really bad move and strikes me as somewhat unsubtle, even for Faile.

Elyas is back helping Perrin, which seems significant somehow.

Morgase is a truly awful servant, which is not much of a surprise, but is always worth a giggle.

Cadsuane’s hair thingies are angreal of some sort: one of them went cold as someone near her channeled.

Alanna needs a good slapping . . . but I think the Wise Ones might already have that covered! :D

Halima sleeping in Egwene’s tent gives me the creeps, as does her being the only one to ease the poor girl’s headaches. (Shudder)

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