Sunday, October 5, 2014

The Gathering Storm by Robert Jordan: Week 1

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 6.

1. Rand has sent a message to Tuon via a released damane, but it seems that it might be some time before she hears of his invitation. Do you think that this delay will make a difference? Will the Seanchan be too distracted by the newly arrived Trolloc hordes and Rodel Ituralde’s army?

Oops: I meant to say “a released sul’dam” . . . the shame, the shame . . .

Why is nothing simple with the Seanchan and their political maneuvering? I sincerely hope that Falendre passes the message along reasonably quickly because delay is going to cause more needless fighting and many deaths that could be avoided. Of course, we should really expect people to completely ignore the approaching End Of The World in favor of their own petty concerns because that has become a recurring theme in this series. However, it is still annoying!

Whilst I think that the Trollocs might distract the Seanchan for a moment or two, I doubt that even the Shadowspawn will halt the Return for more than a few days. As Ituralde himself has noted, the Seanchan are remarkably determined and also adaptable, so they will certainly accept this new challenge with their usual relentless efficiency. Indeed, it seems as if Ituralde is almost a spent force, with most of his army destroyed and an enemy that rarely repeats the same mistake. I had expected him to eventually join Rand’s cause, especially as he is one of the Five Great Captains, but it looks like he might not survive that long. However, it seems unlikely that we would have followed him this far only to see him die a pointless death . . .

2. We had only a short glimpse of the Forsaken in this section, but there were some tantalizing hints. Given Graendal’s thoughts about Demandred, where do you think he has made his base of operations? What do you make of Moridin’s issues with his left hand?

Graendal seems to have decided that Demandred is masquerading as one of the rulers in the Borderlands, but this seems to discount the most obvious choice in my opinion. Whilst most of the Forsaken seem to be fixated on Randland, we have seen at least one work with the forces beyond its borders. Semirhage has been marvelously effective with the Seanchan, so it seems highly unlikely that none of the Forsaken would attempt to mobilize the forces of Shara. So far we have heard very little about this land, but it seems to be massive and we know that Graendal herself has visited it quite recently to select suitably exotic ‘toys’ for her collection. I find it very suspicious that we have heard no rumors of Shadow activity or political unrest in this vast nation, so I conclude that Demandred has been rather more discreet than some of the other Forsaken in his attempts to gain power and influence.

So far, we have seen Rand and Moridin sharing their power-related ‘sickness’ as well as the occasional vision of the others’ activities. With this latest manifestation, it seems that the link is much more powerful than we originally thought and could possibly be a danger to either one. This goes a long way towards explaining why Moridin has issued orders that Rand is not to be harmed: he may be uncertain of how the link was formed and fears that Rand’s death could cause his own if he does not learn how to sever their connection first. We know that the link occurred when the two men crossed their beams of balefire back in Shadar Logoth, but that does not mean that Moridin has any more idea of what happened than Rand does. I just hope that this link will not stop Rand from killing Moridin when the time comes.

3. The Prophet finally met his end, but not before we got to spend a little time inside his highly disturbing mind. What do you make of his vision of the Dragon? Do you think that his death will remove the Dragonsworn as an organized force?

Throughout this series I have had very few opportunities to pull out my tiny, tiny violin and play a sad, sad song for those annoying characters that have FINALLY died and made me happy. I was so pleased when Masema made my week and took an arrow to the chest!

Of course, the poor guy was totally insane, so he was almost pathetic in his last few moments. However, he has been responsible for so much chaos, death and destruction that I found it rather difficult to muster much sympathy for his delusional thinking. I took no satisfaction at all in learning that we were all correct in thinking that he had no real interest in serving Rand’s plans: in fact, I think that he would have decided that Rand was a False Dragon within a few minutes of their reunion. It is just a shame that Rand let this lunatic run around like a rabid dog for such a long time.

Assuming that Masema saw a real vision, and not just some delusional hallucination, I can only assume that one of the Forsaken was manipulating him. He was certainly a great candidate for fulfilling their mission to sow chaos throughout the lands, and he has ultimately weakened Rand’s support in many places. I sincerely hope that any remaining Dragonsworn will return to being the disorganized rabble that they were before he took control: Rand does not need any more problems to deal with.

4. We see Egwene go through some serious changes this week, as she realizes why the Aiel laugh at pain. Do you think that she is correct to think that Elaida’s rule would come to an end soon even without her own efforts? What do you make of the severe disruptions that are occurring in Tar Valon: are they worse than the ones we are seeing elsewhere?

Egwene is certainly developing into a real force of nature: I hope that she gets to swap notes with Cadsuane and Sorilea very soon! :D

Given the way that everything in the Tower and Tar Valon are falling apart, I think it is highly likely that Elaida will be deposed very soon no matter what Egwene does. I suspect that her continued existence as Amyrlin is being extended by the actions of the Blacks, who are probably laughing themselves stupid at how easy she has made their orders to weaken the Tower. We know that it would look extraordinarily bad if the Aes Sedai overthrew a second Amyrlin so soon, but I doubt that this reason will be sufficient to keep her in office for very much longer. Egwene’s appearance, and her stoic acceptance of Elaida’s vengeance, will no doubt speed this process, but even the most stubborn Sister will accept the inevitable eventually.

We do not seem to have evidence of such effects elsewhere, although a patch of grass moving permanently would be difficult to spot unless it showed up somewhere really unusual. It seems likely that the Dark One is targeting the Tower for special attention in the hopes of causing further disruption and unrest: plus a few half-buried Sisters to scare the rest out of their minds. Of course, it could be Mesaana’s actions, which might explain why Leanne seemed to be targeted and we do not know if the Forsaken was one of the yellows on duty when this particular bubble manifested itself.

5. Poor Aviendha is off counting tiny seeds whilst running across country. Can you offer any suggestions about what she has done wrong in the eyes of the Wise Ones?

This is a tricky one, as the Aiel seem to take offense at the strangest things. However, I am at a loss to think of anything in particular, and the tradition of not asking what is causing the problem seems likely to prolong this for quite some time to come. This is probably going to be rather frustrating and I hope that it is not because of something stupidly pointless. My only hope is that she is actually ready to be a Wise One, but needs to start acing like it: perhaps by telling them to take their seeds and shove them where the Sun does not shine! :D

6. We finally touch base with Gawyn in his efforts to disrupt the rebel siege. Can you think of anything that might make him finally see sense and join the rebel cause?

It seems that we have yet another person to add to my long list of Stupid People Who Need Some Sense Slapping Into Them. Seriously, Gawyn, what are you still doing supporting Elaida? Surely even you have notice that her last few orders have been specifically designed to get you killed? No, you want her to say it to your face whilst cackling insanely? Perhaps she could take out an advertisement in the Tar Valon Times or send Gareth Bryne you exact location?

I am beginning to think that a good blow to the head might be the only way that Gawyn will FINALLY acknowledge the decision that he made when he helped Min and the others to escape: that Elaida is unworthy and does not deserve the loyalty of any of the Younglings. I can understand how he might worry about persuading the rest of his men that she is actually the enemy, but he really needs to get out of this situation ASAP. At the moment his sense of self-preservation is sadly lacking in someone who has been trained from birth to protect his sister from the evils of the world.

The only other thing that could trigger a return to brain-owning sanity would be an encounter with Egwene, followed by a swift application of her foot to his backside before she explains the realities of recent history and then Bonds him as her Warder . . . and then uses some well-timed sexytimes to prevent any further idiotic behavior! I sincerely hope that we see a resolution to this side plot soon, otherwise I suspect that Gawyn will be proven to be Too Stupid To Live, possibly by attempting a suicide mission in order to rescue the ‘helpless’ Egwene from the Tower.

7. Cadsuane and a few other Sisters are trying to get information out of Semirhage. Do you think they have any hope at all of succeeding, or will we have to endure many more creepy stories about how she can do truly diabolical things to peoples’ bodies?

Semirhage is possibly the most disturbing person that we have met so far in the series, although Coilin Mellar comes quite close. In many ways, the idea of trying to torture her is actually quite funny and I have to agree with her announcements that the modern Sisters are puny and laughably useless. I have a sneaking suspicion that she might actually enjoy some physical torture, but even if she does not, there is likely to be very little that actually frightens her. After all, she can face down Cadsuane without a problem, and that is almost the scariest thing that I can imagine! :D

I suspect that defeating this particular Forsaken will require a great deal of thought and a deep understanding of human nature. However, Rand has one weapon that he has yet to unleash on the poor, unsuspecting creature: Sorilea! Surely the wizened old Wise One has been kept in reserve for when all else fails, so that she can stalk in, take one look at the problem and solve it as if everyone else is a total idiot. I do hope so! The solution will probably be something elegantly simple, like ignoring Semirhage or making her wash dishes all day until her nails split and then laughing at them.



  1. 1. I don't think it will matter very much. I'm looking at Steve Cooper's timeline, which is a pretty good guess as to how the different storylines match up with each other. The capture of Semirhage happened on what would, in our calendar, be April 9. Tuon left Mat on April 22 and returned to Ebou Dar on April 30. So that sul'dam has a few weeks at least.

    From what I remember the trolloc attack was an exception, and Altara is not swarmed with shadowspawn. Not yet, anyway. So the only distractions I see are Ituralde and whatever Tuon needs to do to remove Suroth's influence (not too much, I assume).

    2. I won't discuss Demandred, sorry. :-)

    Moridin and his hand, this is obviously due to his connection with Rand. And you are right, of course, this is likely why Moridin has ordered him not harmed and why he is so upset with Sermirhage. It'll be interesting to see what role this will have in the last battle.

    3. It was interesting to see his last thoughts go to his father, how proud he was when Masema grew up, worrying whether he had done well in his life. Happier times...

    The vision of Rand is almost certainly due to a forsaken. For some reason I think it was Graendal, but I don't know why I think that. So it could be wrong.

    The dragonsworn have never really been an organized force. It will probably remove HIS dragonsworn from the picture, but there are other bands. Technically, even Bashere is dragonsworn.

    4. I've said it before but it bears repeating, Egwene is a tour de force in this book. Some of my absolute favourite chapters in the entire series are coming up in the next 5-6 weeks, and most of them are hers.

    Yes, Elaida is digging her own grave. Egwene is shifting her work to keeping the Tower from falling apart completely, and I think she's right in doing so. Let Elaida destroy herself and then pick up the pieces after. If only she could destroy herself a little faster, though...

    5. Erm, I can, yes. It's a pretty silly thing, to be honest.

    6. Christ, Gawyn, get with the fucking program. He's on step 5 and everyone else is on step 30. He's still short of news, so I can think of a few things that might help. He doesn't know that Egwene is in charge of the rebellion, and he also doesn't know that Elayne is now Queen. So I hope that once he learns of either of those things, something might change.

    7. They have some hope of succeeding, they just have to think outside the box. There are non-physical forms of torture...


    Can Ituralde possibly be more badass? Doubt it.

    1. Most of the good guys are OK with dying as long as the Light Side wins. But it seems all of the bad guys want to outlive the final battle. I think this simple difference will contribute greatly to their undoing.

      I guess the Forsaken who had chosen to use Masema to sew discord and chaos were done with him. Is it because they were distracted by something else? Or because they have something worse and bigger waiting in the wings?

      I am growing quite fond of Ituralde.

  2. 1. I suppose that I shouldn't be surprised that someone has tried to make a calendar of events, although it must have been amazingly difficult to construct!

    2. I guess that it truly is a double-edged sword, because he can't harm Rand without harming himself . . . in theory.

    3. I suppose that she is at work in Altara, so it makes sense that she would be messing with the Dragonsworn nearby. It also seems to fit her understanding of psychology and how to manipulate people. I'm rather hoping that they will dissolve into a useless mess now that Masema is dead, mainly because they are simply a nuisance to pretty much anyone trying to do anything.

    4. It seems like Rand and Egwene are the too most fundamentally changed characters in the series, which makes me very surprised that she isn't actually ta'veren. I'm glad to hear that she gets to be even more awesome, because I'm very impressed with her already! :D

    5. That is rather disappointing, but I can't say that I'm overly surprised. Some of the Wise Ones' "lessons" have been somewhat irritating once they have been revealed.

    6. Indeed! He doesn't seem to be very good at guessing though . . . surely Gareth Byrne's presence would make him think that he had been sent by Elayne or something similar . . . but I don't think Gawyn does thinking very well! :D

    7. I still think that nobody can withstand Sorilea and her beady eyes . . . or perhaps they will set Lini on her! :D

  3. I too hope that Ituralde will join forces with Rand. But I have trouble remembering all the politics and I wonder what would keep Ituralde from doing so if given the chance....except for that male Channeler possible insanity thing.

    I had not thought of Demandred mustering a force of Seanchan, either back in their homeland, or in Randland. I will have to give that some thought.

    I think you may be right about the Tower not withstanding deposing another Amyrlin so soon. We may have to kill Elaida. I know it is dirty, hard work, but I feel that you and I, with our practical natures and knowledge of average human anatomy, can do it. ;)

    I agree that Egwene enjoying some sexytimes with Gawyn would be the swiftest way to bring him around to the Light Side. But I fear, as you do, that he is Too Stupid To Live. I am sure they have some sort of reverse merit badge of that ilk. Maybe Lan can appy it? With his fist?

    Ah yes, handing Semirhage over to the Wise Ones may just do the trick. Can you imagine Semirhage patiently sorting seeds?

  4. Good point about maybe a Forsaken manipulating Masema. I just always assumed he was loony.

    A pow-wow between Egwene, Sorilea and Cadsuane would be epic!

    I love Gawyn. He's one of my faves. But I DO wish he could have figured this out a bit more quickly. I feel ya there! :D


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