Sunday, April 27, 2014

Winter’s Heart by Robert Jordan: Week 4

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 17.

1. Elayne gets to ‘entertain’ the worst looking man in the universe, at least as far as her bodyguards know. Do you think that they will actually prove to be any protection against assassins and what did you make of Hanlon’s hints to them that Elayne likes rough men?

Although it was very funny that Rand was disguised as possibly the ugliest man in the world, I did have to wonder about the guards letting him stay alone with Elayne. If they were so unhappy about his appearance, why would they leave the two alone for so long without contacting Birgitte or Hanlon? They could easily have sent a messenger to get someone to check him out: even if it was only to say that they were correct to be worried. Their lack of action suggests to me that they are not really thinking carefully enough about how to protect Elayne, even from herself.

However, having said all that, it seems that Hanlon had told them that she preferred her men on the rough side. This might have made them more open to accepting her orders in this case without questioning them too thoroughly. Ironically, this has worked against Hanlon’s interests, as I am quite sure that he planted that hint as a way to make it easier to gain access to the Queen’s bedroom himself. I think I just threw up in my mouth a bit at that thought! :(

2. Any suggestions about what Elayne and Rand were doing to make Birgitte seek solace in a bottle of strong liquor? Do you think it was so shocking that it put Alanna into her coma?

Elayne: you filthy-minded strumpet! Imagine corrupting that poor, innocent farm boy like that! :D

I was rather amused by how Min and Aviendha reacted, even though they were almost prepared for it. However, poor Birgitte had the whole experience dumped on her with no warning, which would have been very disturbing after Elayne blanked out for a few moments. I know that she is very worldly, and has had a massive amount of experience with men, but that is somewhat different to suddenly being aware of someone else having rampant sex. The idea of not being able to switch it off makes it even worse! :D

I doubt that the sexual acts themselves were enough to push Alanna over the edge, especially as she is a Green who has already had several Warders. However, Elayne is told that taking another Warder should not affect Birgitte, so I am not sure why Alanna has had this reaction. Perhaps it is because the triple-bond is highly unusual and somehow overloaded his existing link. Maybe Aes Sedai do not usually hold these types of multiple bonds for a very good reason.

3. Cadsuane seems to have her hands full with angry Sea Folk and strangely subdued Aes Sedai. What do you make of the Sisters’ sudden decision to support Rand, even the Reds? How angry will Nynaeve be to discover that she is not the only one to be able to Heal Stilling?

I am rapidly becoming a great fan of Cadsuane: she is so brutal in the way that she deals with people! :D

I have to assume that the Sisters’ sudden conversion to supporting Rand is linked to all that Compulsion that Verin was doing in the Aiel camp earlier. Somehow, I find it difficult to believe that they all made the decision independently, especially the Reds. Assuming that Verin’s weaves work properly, these women will certainly uphold their oaths, but I would agree with Sorilea and Cadsuane that they are not massively trustworthy.

One thing that was not mentioned during the report about his Healing, was the strength of the woman afterwards. This makes me wonder if her strength was much the same as it was before the Healing, because otherwise it would have been remarked upon. It is never mentioned that Logain is weaker now than he was before, so it seems that to regain your entire strength a person must be Healed of their Stilling by a person of the opposite sex. This seems remarkably unfair for Siuan and Leane, but I guess that they are stuck with their present levels and would not want to try being Stilled and then Healed by Flinn to see if that helped. Somehow, I think that Nynaeve will have  grudging respect for the man who has managed to Heal the impossible, even if this feat matches her own.

4. When Cyndane popped up I assumed that she was our good old friend, Lanfear, reincarnated. However, she seems to be too weak in the One Power. Any thoughts about this?

Everything else about Cyndane points to her being Lanfear: her knowledge of the Age of Legends and obvious familiarity with Rand and his understanding of the Choedan Kal. She even speaks with the same arrogance as Lanfear. I can only assume that this arrogance caused the Dark One to reincarnate her with diminished capabilities. Being less powerful than she was would certainly be a suitable punishment for her as is her position as a mind-trapped slave to Moridin.

5. We finally get to meet the Daughter of the Nine Moons. Is she what you expected? What about Anath: was anyone else very suspicious that Tuon’s previous Truthspeaker died suddenly and was replaced by this unlikely candidate?

I was expecting someone slightly older, but otherwise I had no real expectations about her personality. The fact that she is strong-willed is hardly a surprise, as the Seanchan hierarchy would surely weed out weak characters at quite an early age. Her sense of fun is somewhat unexpected, but should make her match with Mat even more entertaining.

Whilst I can see the necessity of a Truthspeaker, there is something about Anath that feels wrong to me. I am trying to work out if she could be one of the Forsaken in disguise, and it seems that Semirhage is not really accounted for, so that is a distinct possibility. It makes sense that at least one of them would attach themselves to the Seanchan royal family because it is so powerful. The ‘she fell down the stairs’ story seems far to close to the one that Halima spun about the Aes Sedai that she claimed to know, who I believe also ‘died in a fall’.

6. It seems that we were right to suspect that the Gholam would feel a personal need to kill Mat. Do you see any way that Mat can get rid of it? What about Noal: is he only an old man who happened to be in the right place at the right time?

I have to admit that the Gholam gives me the shivers, especially as I cannot see how Mat can actually kill it. The only thing that even damages it is his medallion, but I am not sure how that can be used to destroy it. Perhaps Elayne can copy it and enough of them used together might be able to do a great deal of damage, but can it actually die? We know that it had been contained in a stasis box, so perhaps they can herd it back into one of those.

I got the impression that Noal was speaking in the Old Tongue when he called out for help, because he specifically says that the people around them probably would not understand him. This in itself strikes me as very suspicious and ominous, as does his apparent dexterity with knarly hands. However, I do not get a negative vibe from him, so I am prepared to think of him as a good guy at the moment. He seems to have something of Thom Merrilin about him, so perhaps he is Thom’s long lost brother.

7. Mat meets Tuon and his dice stop thundering. Any ideas of how he is going to end up married to this woman, or will she simply ‘borrow’ him permanently from Tylin?

This was a lovely scene, with Mat covered in dirt and Tuon treating like livestock. The poor lad seemed thunder-struck, but she did not show much obvious reaction to his sudden appearance in her life. Yet again he is treated as a nice piece of male crumpet and not the important ta’veren that he truly is. A small part of me quite likes the way that the young guys get treated like eye candy, because it is a nice change from the objectification of women, but it is getting a little wearing, especially with Mat. Other than letting her buy him, I am not sure how he will even get Tuon to recognize that he is alive, but I am sure that he will think of something.

I am looking forward to Tylin bowing out of the picture soon: her treatment of Mat is disrespectful and annoying. In many ways, I am sure that Tuon will be fair more suitable as a partner for him, and might even calm him down a little. Of course, poor Mat does not yet know that she is his future wife. I am sure that his face will be an amazing picture of slack-jawed denial when he finally finds out! :D

Other Thoughts

So, Elayne will become pregnant with twins and Aviendha will have quadruplets . . . does this mean that Min is destined to be the Octomum? :D

I am still very uneasy about the Ogier that fight with the Seanchan. I hope that we will get to hear what they think about their violent role in the army and how it came about.

It would seem that all and sundry have had the pleasure of snuggling up to Riselle’s amazing bosom . . . I wonder if she is just a maid, or if she ‘supplements’ her income! :D


  1. 1. What was the motivation for having a female-only bodyguard again? So that they can guard her while dressing or bathing? Surely a burly guy or two wouldn't have been uncalled for… you can't have 20 people in there while she's bathing anyway. Or maybe this is just a sly plan from Birgitte to enable Elayne's upcoming bath spree.

    Hanlon just rubs me all the wrong ways. Here's at least an evil character I can really hate.

    2. Ahaha… I can make suggestions all night, but I don't think you are actually being serious. :P

    I don't recall anything else that could knock Alanna out, so I think this was it, and I expect her to be back on her feet shortly.

    I wish we had got to see some of the binge drinking the girls were doing… Such unladylike behaviour (but then, these three aren't the typical ladies either—and we know Birgitte can hold her drink).

    3. I can only assume that we are seeing the effects of Verin's experiments with compulsion (see book 8 prologue). She mentioned something then that she could only offer ‘suggestions’ and that the victim had to find some reason within herself for wanting to do it. That's probably why their motivations are sounding off to Cadsuane. And of course, it's a plus in the book for Verin (who has been acting very suspiciously more times than she should) that she's apparently heling Rand.

    I don't expect Nynaeve to be miffed at all. I think her basic motivation is quite pure and that she'll only be pleased about this development. Note also that Siuan and Leane were healed but weakened, while Logain and Irgain recovered their full strength. The standing theory is that you need to be healed by the opposite gender to get your full strength back.

    4. Well, I don't have much to say about this. I would still say that Lanfear is our best bet, because after her there's not really many viable options. By the end of the book there's a part where it becomes quite clear who she is.

    5. I quite like this chapter, a rather low-key reveal that is nontheless powerful in my mind, sailing into the vast Ebou Dari harbor as she is with hundreds of ships. The Return is finally here in force. I get a chill every time reading those words where she thinks of herself as Hawkwing's rightful heir and ruler of everything, etc.

    Still, you'd be forgiven for wondering how she and Mat could possibly end up together in a loving, caring relationshpi. Mat isn't looking for anyone, least of all the next Empress of the Seanchan Empire. She is presumably not about to marry someone who drags mud in, although she took some uncharacteristic interest in him when they met… (I BELIEVE, though I'm not sure, that the reason behind this is the fortune told to her by one of her damane the night before, and I also think that's why she chose to go under the veil and travel incognito so far.)

    I'm happy you picked up on Anath, because I didn't do that the first time I read this. In retrospect it's extremely suspicious and a massive red flag. There are only a few forsaken we have no idea where are posted yet… Semirhage, Demandred and Osan'gar. Maybe also Cyndane and Moghedien, though I don't think they fit the time window.

    6. I don't see anything more than before—the gholam appears quite invincible. But like I said before, I know how it's done in the end, and it's really smart. Just wait and rub your hands. ;-)

    Noal… is definitely not a random person. He is totally there for a reason. I think already now there are enough hints scattered around that you can work out who he is, but I would be positively amazed if any of you managed to do it. Some of the hints are all the way back from book 1, and they're hardly the kind you'll read and go ‘AHA!’ Still though, there'll be a few others before the great reveal, so keep your eyes open.

    7. I think I covered most of this under question 5.

    Other: Gotta love how oblivious Mat is sometimes. He just can't figure out who Olver's bad influence is. :D

    1. Upcoming bath spree? well, if we can have one full of the ladies, can we also have a bath spree or sweat lodge spree full of men?

      Ah, yes. All that talk about The Return was a bit chilling.These Seanchan aren't here for glory and goods and will sail away to only raid once a year. No. They plan to conquer and settle and rule (all of Randland?). They must be throwing a ton of resources into this and apparently they have the resources to do so. Which makes the task of kicking them out or creating some sort of peace with them seem impossible to accomplish.

  2. I like your idea of the triple bond overloading Alanna. I think Birgitte's rampant drinking and dancing on tables was the straw that sent Alanna into a swoon. ;)

    Cadsuane has also become one of my favorites too. I loved how she dealt with the Sea Folk in this week's reading.

    I had forgot about Verin's Compulsion activities. That could explain their desire to swear fealty to Rand. Couple it with Tel'aran'rhiod and they could plan their swearing fealty.

    and I really like your idea that you have to healed by the opposite sex to get your full strength back after being Stilled. I wonder if a male channeler could come along and finish the healing on Leanne and Siuan?

    That would be too funny if Noal was Thom's long lost brother! I am wondering if he is another person out of legend spun into the world by the Wheel, like Birgitte is usually spun into the world.

    I too have enjoyed the romp through male objectification, but it would be nice to put gender objectification on the shelf for a bit and just tell a good story.

    Oh Yes! Those Seanchan Ogier! We know a little about Ogier through Loial and his family, and we know that something bad happens if an Ogier is away from a Steading too long. So, these Seanchan Ogier - have they been without a Steading for generations and that is why they are warriors and not builders?

    Haha! Oh yes, Riselle's amazing bosom. Well, at least we know that Olver has good taste even as a young lad.


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