Sunday, March 23, 2014

The Path of Daggers 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 26

1. Most of this section comprised Rand's battle against the Seanchan. What are your thoughts about this section? You can address the nobles, how Rand handled it, how the battle went, how it was written, and/or what the ramifications will be. Basically anything you want. 

The guerilla tactics seemed to work very well, especially against such an overconfident opponent. I liked the back and forth between the two groups: it allowed us to get a sense of how Rand’s strategy was exploiting many of the Seanchan weaknesses and spreading panic among the officers, rather than leaving us in the dark about this. The way that both sides decided that they were beaten was an interesting way to end it and seemed like a logical result of the losses on both sides. It is almost frustrating to know that Rand could have pushed on and broken the invasion at that point, but that would make life far too easy for him so I was not expecting a decisive win at this time. I strongly suspect that Mat will need to work his charms on the Daughter of the Nine Moons in order to bring about any kind of agreement between the two forces.

It was very satisfying to see the Seanchan beaten, yet again, and I expect to enjoy Suroth’s ultimate defeat with great relish. I will also be relieved when the damane are freed and they are no longer petted like trained dogs, which I find more than a little sickening.

2. The two noble women with Rand pulled out belt knives when Rand was thrown from his horse. He wondered if they'd been meaning to kill him or protect him before Bashere came crashing to the rescue. What do you think?

I doubt that even they really know what they were going to do. Each of them is very uncomfortable with Rand because he is both a male channeler and the conqueror of her nation. In the very short term, both would probably feel a whole lot better if he could be removed with a minimum of fuss. However, the women will also both know that he is the Dragon Reborn and, therefore, vital for the survival of mankind in the Last Battle. Would you really want to kill the world’s only chance of defeating the Dark One just so that you could feel a little more comfortable?

They are both also aware of the loyal troops that follow him: men that might be very suspicious if Rand were to suddenly fall to a wound from a small knife. Then there is the concern that they might only wound him and then have to deal with a very angry, possibly crazed, version of the man that turns their bowels to water. Finally, there is the problem of their antagonism towards each other. Both of them might possibly have gone through with an attempt on his life if she were alone, but not in front of an enemy who would undoubtedly use the action for political gain.

3. Liandrin is a slave to the Seanchan! Thoughts? Feelings? Expletives?

Look, I am playing the world’s smallest violin to express my sympathy for Liandrin! :D

I think we all wished this day would come to pass and it was a joyful experience to realize precisely who it was that was being a truly terrible slave. Oh, how I chortled with glee! Possibly the only thing more fitting would to see her being disciplined by Sorilea, but this will do for now.

4. Rand's bundle turns out to be Callandor. What do you think of the way he tried to make use of it and why it didn't work? Or did it?

Yay! I love being right!

This was really rather annoying as it was blazingly obvious that the One Power was having a bad or whatever for everyone else, not just Rand. He had already seen the Asha’man losing control and killing his own troops, so why did he think that he would be any different? Plus, he had been struggling with the dizziness for the last few days, which should have been a colossal warning to use saidin with great caution. As he took up Callandor, I was doing the “Don’t do it!” chant. :(

The problem with the One Power is very worrying, although I wonder if it is connected to the use of the Bowl, as it seems to be worst around Ebou Dar. If that is the problem, then the effect should dissipate with time, if not then we may have a more serious problem on our hands. I also wonder if Callandor is a double-edged sword, so to speak: a very powerful artifact, but difficult to use safely.

5. We see a major shift in Rand's thoughts/personality here. He's gone from the bumbling farm hand to a somewhat arrogant battle lord. Thoughts about this? How will it affect events and his chances of making it to the Last Battle?

I see many potential problems for Rand at the moment: his increasing difficulty using saidin safely being only one of them. He has isolated himself almost completely, which places all the responsibility on his shoulders and he is not handling this pressure at all well. He trusts very few of the people around him and so shares none of his worries and concerns with them: this is making him into a poor leader. As we saw with the terrible effect of his use of Callandor, he is not thinking logically or even taking notice of the obvious problems occurring around him. This strikes me as a classic symptom of Depression and he will not improve until he lets someone share his burdens.

Whether or not he is descending into madness seem to be the least of his worries at the moment. He may lose his support because of his own erratic behavior and poor judgment.

6. Alviarin disappeared from the Tower for two weeks before suddenly returning to stomp all over Elaida again. Where do you think she went? And what is Mesaana up to with that decree recognizing claiming the Tower is "guiding" the Dragon Reborn?

No particular destination strikes me as obvious at the moment, though we know that Mesaana taught her how to make a Gateway not long before she left. Perhaps she simply went home to visit her dear, sweet old mother . . .

As for Mesaana, we know that the Dark One has ordered the Forsaken to cause chaos, so I can only assume that this decree will help with that. It is a very Aes Sedai type of move because it can mean many things, depending upon your point of view. If you support both the Tower and Rand, it will seem like a good thing, but if you are in any doubt about these two powerful factions then it will only add to your unease. It will certainly make Rand even more wary of the Tower and its intentions, which may be Mesaana’s real goal here: to keep the two powers from forming an alliance for as long as possible.

7. The sisters Elaida sent to break (*snorts*) the Black Tower is easily brought to heel. What do you think Logain did to Toveine and what will happen to the Tower sisters who were captured?

Ah yes, Elaida did make some wonderfully stupid assumptions during her sections this week, but this one was particularly snort-worthy! :D

Whilst I thought that it was inevitable that the Asha’man would wipe the floor with the Sisters, it was still gratifying to see how they were taken completely unawares. Such rank ignorance and self-deluding overconfidence really does deserve to come up against an opposition that can outmaneuver it in a wonderfully casual way. I am really hoping that the Aes Sedai will FINALLY start to be more cautious of those who can oppose them and treat them with a little respect. (Yeah, right!)

It was wonderful to see Logain again, and to know that he is in the Black Tower and not overly happy with Taim. This only adds to my suspicion about M’Hael and his true intentions. Whilst I can imagine his good looks causing a normal woman to swoon after a single kiss, I think that it is much more likely that he Bonded Toveine. I am afraid that I did snicker a little at the image of a Red Sister going all girly over a male channeler when he kissed her, but I am still uneasy with the ‘forced’ aspect of this action. Just as with Rand an Alanna, it is a form of rape, and not something that I condone.

If her initial reaction is anything to go by, I think that Toveine will be furious at first but quickly come to see that there are some rather positive advantages to being Bonded to an Asha’man. The fact that Logain is a bit of a stud muffin will not hurt in this case and we know that she has a bit of an eye for the lads anyway. The idea of two channelers Bonded seems like a terrific idea as they will form a very powerful fighting team.

Other Thoughts

The Empress’ Deathwatch Guards includes Ogier! :O


  1. “The idea of two channelers Bonded seems like a terrific idea as they will form a very powerful fighting team.”

    You don't even know how right you are.

  2. I second Eivind's comment. I said in my post that this leads into one of my favorite aspects of the end of the series, and that's pretty much it.

    Good point about how something was wrong with the One Power throughout the entire battle and it probably contributed to the whole Callandor disaster. I forgot about that completely. :D

    1. The idea of male and female channelers Bonding seems so very obvious now that the men are not being hunted down like dogs, but I imagine that it will make many of the Aes Sedai throw up at the very idea. It does make me wonder how Rand will cope bonded to ELayne and Aviendha . . .

  3. Agreed. Even though it would have been a bit satisfying to have Rand break the entire Seanchan invasion here and now, I really want to see Suroth taken down. Very much looking forward to how that comes about.

    Ah yes, I could see those two dingbats giving Rand a small nick and having him go into Angry Hulk mode, which would cause them to soil their nice dresses.

    "Look, I am playing the world’s smallest violin to express my sympathy for Liandrin!" LOL!!!! You make me laugh! So true!

    I too wonder about the Saidin phenomenon around Ebou Dar. If it stays localized, and the fighting moves off, then not a big deal. If it increases in area, then it could become a big deal. If it is related to the Bowl of Winds, then maybe it was in how it was used and then suddenly switched off. Was it Elayne who quipped to the Windfinder about how inappropriate it was to suddenly disengage Saidar as she did?

    I wonder if the Deathwatch Ogier are volunteers, slaves, forced or free? We have seen Loial totally mess up a horde of Trollocs all on his own so I shudder to think what a guard force comprised of Ogier could do!


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