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 the book.
1. After letting himself go with the Shaido prisoners, Perrin abandons his axe in the forest, as predicted by Elyas. What do you think of his way of breaking the Aiel? Is this a defining moment for him, and in what ways?
We know that the Aiel are tough as really hard nails that have been trained to be extra, extra hard, so I was not expecting them to break at all. Perrin’s solution showed a good understanding of Aiel culture, but was deeply disturbing to me because it was such a brutal and ruthless action. I know that there was no other way to get information, but I was still shocked and disappointed by it.
This is a real turning point for Perrin, as far as I can see, because he has finally taken that step beyond what is normally acceptable in war. Considering how gentle and careful he has always been in the past, this is doubly important and underlines how desperate he has become in his quest to retrieve Faile. I sincerely hope that he can move beyond this decision and forgive himself for it; otherwise he could be eaten away by self-loathing and guilt. I see it as a good sign that he has finally abandoned the axe: perhaps this will be the last time that he resorts to such horrible violence.
2. Tallanvor suggests to team up with Seanchan to defeat the Shaido. Should Perrin agree? Will he just end up having to rescue people from the Seanchan instead?
Although Suroth is not exactly trustworthy, I think that she is much more honorable than Sevanna. In general, I think that the Seanchan are very likely to ally with the other forces of Light against the Dark One, whereas the Shaido are only going to be a pain in everyone’s collective backsides until Sevanna is put down and the rest are dispersed or subdued. To be honest, the Shaido may do the whole world a favor by forcing Perrin and the Seanchan to become allies sooner rather than later.
We know that Suroth is up to no good, but the other Seanchan seem to be honest, honorable types. Also, they are interested in colonization rather than destructive conquest, as we have seen already, so it makes little sense for them to turn on Perrin after defeating the Shaido. This does not mean that certain individuals might not cause trouble, but they are certainly a much more reliable ally than Masema.
3. From the female or male viewpoint, what do you make of Mat's courtship strategy, and Tuon's response? Bewildered? (I am!)
Some people seem to understand all this courtship stuff . . . but I am not one of them and I still have not really worked out how I ended up married! :D
Whilst I am totally bewildered by Mat’s plan, I have to applaud him for facing his fate rather than trying to run away from it. This seems like a massive step forward for Mat, who has been fairly feckless for most of the series, and I love to see characters learn from their experiences and change how they respond to the world. He is being very dogged and trying so hard to keep his cool in the face of almost complete indifference that I feel very sorry for the poor lad.
As for Tuon: I have no idea what she is thinking, but she certainly seems to be in total control of the situation and herself. I get the impression that she is rather attracted to Mat, but that could just be her amusement at his antics and she sees him as no more significant than a performing monkey. I hope that is not the case; otherwise their marriage is going to be awfully miserable.
4. Renna betrays our heroes and Mat is presumably forced to leave the circus. Were you surprised? How happy are you to be rid of Valan Luca?
To be honest, it seemed like only a matter of time before one of the sul’dam tried to make an escape. I was not really surprised that she tried to return to the Seanchan, especially as her information about Tuon would earn her a great deal of gratitude from Suroth. Killing her was rather unfortunate, much as the maiming of the Aiel we discussed earlier, but necessary.
I gather that many people find Valan irritating, and so we should be happy to leave him behind. Personally, I do not find him too annoying because his personality seems correct for a person who has chosen his profession. Yes, he is always interested in earning money, but that seems like a pretty obvious thing to do if you have no other source of income and a constant drain on your finances to feed and maintain the exhibits. Having said that, I am not very upset to leave the circus behind, especially as it is very slow moving, but all those extra people provide much more security for Mat and his little band.
5. Egwene's plan is revealed, and the harbor chains of Tar Valon is now cuendillar. How will this change the siege?
Paint me confused: how does changing the chains into cuendillar help at all?
We know that it is the hardest substance known to man, so they can no longer be cut . . . but that is hardly going to help the rebels. I guess that the transformation could make the chains inflexible or perhaps heavier so that they can no longer be raised when ships want to enter the harbors. This would be a huge problem for the Tower and its need to get supplies via the river.
The other effect that I can imagine is that it is a huge, and very public, demonstration of Egwene’s power. It was a skill that had been lost since the Age of Legends, so rediscovering it is a major coup for her. Also, nobody will be able to reverse it, so it will be a permanent reminder of her abilities and we know that the Aes Sedai have great respect for personal strength.
6. Egwene is captured! Should she have sent Bode after all? Is she stupid for having risked herself? Never mind the harbor chains... how will THIS change the war?
Well, what did she expect? Fancy thinking that they would not have Sisters guarding the walls for a trace of Channeling nearby: even Elaida is not THAT stupid! :D
I think it was quite right that Egwene sent Bode back to camp. I know that one could argue that a good leader does not place themselves in danger, but I think that this could work to Egwene’s advantage. She has demonstrated that she is unafraid of Elaida and her proclamations about the rebel Sisters, which will be a slap in the face for the Amyrlin. She has also shown that she is willing to lead from the front, rather than hiding in the background and getting others to do her dirty work: I suspect that this will appeal to the Greens and Whites in the Tower, whilst her rediscovery of an ancient Talent will please the Browns.
One might think that being captured would be very dangerous for Egwene, but I sincerely doubt that she will be in much personal danger because Elaida will want to make a huge public display of punishing her. This will allow her to openly challenge Elaida and show the vulnerability of the Tower now that it is divided. Her Dream of the Seanchan attack will probably also gain her support when it happens if she can make it common knowledge. All in all, I think she is perfectly placed to undermine Elaida and cause the Tower to select a new Amyrlin.
7. Rand will meet the Daughter of the Nine Moons, but we know she's nowhere to be found (by Suroth, anyway). An obvious trap or just a really obvious trap? What do you expect to happen?
Hopefully Rand will be very careful when approaching this person, whoever it is. I suspect that Cadsuane and everyone else will advise him to be very cautious and to be prepared to use force if an attack occurs, which I assume it will. I suspect there will be lots of mayhem and possibly some balefire, but it all depends upon who is masquerading as Tuon.