Monday, June 23, 2014

Crossroads of Twilight 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 16.

1) Chapter 13 starts with Elayne returning to her bath and Aviendha alludes to some joke Birgitte played that relied upon the feedback loop built into her bond with Elayne. Any guesses as to what this joke was?

Knowing that Aiel humor is rather strange, and that Birgitte herself has a rather earthy approach to life, I can only assume that it involves sexual activity of some type. Perhaps Birgitte got out a pack of ‘naughty’ playing cards or the Randland equivalent of Playgirl to wave in front of Elayne’s nose . . . or perhaps she got Aviendha to give a VERY detailed description of Rand’s anatomy or technique . . .

2) Dyelin returns with the High Seats of Mantear, Haevin, Gilyard, and Northan. Do you foresee any issues concerning the ages of these High Seats? Dyelin seems to have an unhealthy curiosity about Brigitte. Do you think she is merely in disbelief about Brigitte's abilities, or do you think Dyelin is studying her for more nefarious reasons?

Apart from wanting to slap that obnoxious girl, I think that Elayne will not have much trouble with them. However, they are all so young that they could easily be seen as her hostages: something that might have been less of a problem if only Dyelin had brought their advisors with them. I am not sure that their youth reduces their influence amongst the other Houses because of the hereditary system that they follow, but Elayne could certainly be accused of exploiting their inexperience.

Dyelin is obviously a smart woman and she realizes that Birgitte is hiding something. She must also notice that Birgitte sometimes says things that could not possibly be true for someone of her age: she has far too much experience of war and the world in general. All of this makes Dyelin suspicious of the woman, especially as she is one of Elayne’s closest advisors. I think that Birgitte’s unladylike behavior rubs Dyelin the wrong way, but her animosity is mostly due to her concern for Elayne. I seriously doubt that there is any dark motive behind her curiosity as she has repeatedly proven herself to be totally loyal.

3) While Elayne met with Master Norry and Mistress Harfor (just how many spies does Elayne have in the her Palace, and can she keep them ignorant and in play?), Aviendha sheilded their conversation. Once the meeting was concluded, she told Elayne someone had attempted to listen in. Who do you think that was, and why?

It does seem as if Mistress Harfor would have an easier time rooting out the non-spies! :D

I think that most of the spies will be people simply trying to earn some extra cash by passing along what they hear, rather than evil Darkfriends and potential assassins. This means that they will be fairly easy to manipulate into spreading misinformation or being bought out by the threat of Aviendha and her belt knife, assuming that Mistress Harfor is not frightening enough!

I suppose the person trying to eavesdrop could have been any of the channelers in the Palace, so we have a fairly large list of candidates. I am not sure if Aviendha would have been able to identify someone that she had already seen channeling, so there is no real way to reduce the list at the moment. I suppose that the most obvious candidates are the Wise Ones, simply because they are so nosey, but it could have been just about anyone.

I imagine that they were simply trying to find out what was said at the meeting. If it was one of the Aes Sedai, it could have been because she suspected that one of eyes and ears had been compromised. However, that would assume that Mistress Harfor was not good at her job, and I would find that hard to believe.

4) It appears that Arymilla, who is vying for the crown of Andor, isn't above holding prominent people hostage in order to strengthen her claim. Do you think she is as daft as Elenia believes she is? Elenia has a plot to use Naean Arawn in order to further her own claims for the thrown; do you expect that to go well for Elenis? What is up with the seemingly mad and definitely violent Nasin?

I seriously doubt that she is quite as stupid as she appears, because she seems to have been far too successful in gathering a large army for a total airhead. Of course, she could be a puppet being used by a much more clever person in the background, such as one of the Chosen or even a different House, but I suspect that her wide-eyed appearance is all an act. After all, she does employ a ruthlessly efficient torturer . . .

Elenia seems to be allowing herself the luxury of quite a lot of wishful thinking. It is quite obvious that Arymilla has warn her down to a truly desperate state, so I seriously doubt that her plans will come to anything. Both she and Naean are desperate, but hopelessly caught in a rather clever trap. As far as I can see, her only course of action is to wait until Elayne defeats Arymilla and then hope to persuade the new Queen that they were unwilling supporters in the rebellion. Unfortunately for Elenia, I doubt that Elayne will be easily swayed.

I am not sure if Nasin is truly mad or just a very good actor. Either way, he is not to be trusted and is probably working on plans to seize the throne for his own House. Of course, his granddaughter might be the actual person to watch in this case, and he could be suffering from poisoning that causes his unpleasant behavior. She seems far too passive for my liking.

5) We spent some more time in Hanlon's head. He and Falion have some sort of an agreement wherein they exchange info behind Shiaine's back. Which of the three do you expect to end up dead first? Shiaine asks three things of Hanlon: free some sul'dam and/or damane, shift some guards away from the food warehouses, and entertain Elayne in bed. Which of the three do you expect Hanlon to accomplish and what do you think is the master plan?

Being in Hanlon’s head always makes me want to take a shower . . . yuck! :(

I suspect that Falion will die first: both Hanlon and Shiaine are far too cautious to be outwitted by a simple Aes Sedai. Also, Shiaine is completely ruthless, so she will have little compunction about knifing a Sister if she proves untrustworthy.

I think he has the best chance of freeing some of the sul’dam and damane. We know that Birgitte is responsible for the guard patrols, so he has little chance of altering her orders without being caught. As for bedding Elayne: I suspect that the Pit of Doom will freeze over and we will see the Dark One dancing the can-can in a frilly dress before Hanlon gets to lay one grubby little finger on her. Even if she does not blast him into a greasy spot on the ground, I doubt that he could survive an attack by both Aviendha and Birgitte . . . although I would certainly like to see him try . . .

The attacks on the warehouses seem fairly pointless, but they could simply be a way to create confusion and chaos. This would also be true for releasing some of the Seanchan, although that could also be part of some agreement that has been made to gain their cooperation. Shiaine obviously assumes that Hanlon can manipulate Elayne by sleeping with her, which does not say much about her respect for other women, but seems like an obvious way for Moridin to gain some control over Andor. 

6) Delana shares a few shocking tidbits with Egwene: 1) Several Aes Sedai suspect Egwene has bonded Gareth Bryn; and 2) Many Aes Sedai are considering negotiations with Elaida. Which did you find more amusing? Would either benefit Egwene's efforts to make the Tower whole before the end of the world?

The idea of Egwene bonding Gareth Bryne made me giggle, because it is such a great idea. If we did not know about his relationship with Siuan, I would say that it was a brilliant idea and she should have done it ages ago. As it is, I wish Siuan would just drag him off to bed and have some sexytimes before the Last Battle arrives: I am sure that she would be an entirely different person if she did! :D

The idea of negotiations with Elaida just shows how deluded and scared many of the Sisters really are. They were quite happy to sit in Salidar denouncing her as a false Amyrlin, but are completely unwilling to actually do anything about it. We saw this when some of them threw up after Egwene announced the declaration of war. We also know that there is not even the tiniest chance that Elaida will put aside her personal grievances to let the Tower reunite: she will want her revenge on every single person who has opposed her, and that revenge will have to be very public and very humiliating. This alone proves that she could never be a successful Amyrlin after the reunification of the Tower.

I find it strange that the rebels actually believe her proclamation about Rand. I know that the Three Oaths mean that she should not be able to lie, but it strikes me as very odd that they refuse to think that she could be bending the truth at all. Of course, we know that it was actually drafted by a Black Ajah who can lie as much as she wants, but even that possibility is one that they refuse to even contemplate. I seriously do not know how Egwene withstands the urge to give them all a good slapping: they are such idiots!    

The only way that negotiations can help Egwene is by momentarily letting Elaida think that she has won some advantage over the rebels. Other than that, it seems like a complete waste of time to me.

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