Sunday, October 26, 2014

The Gathering Storm 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 28.

1. We finally learn Rand's logic for swapping Bashere and Ilturalde. Do you agree with his logic? Will it work?

I think most of us were fairly sure that Bashere should stay with Rand and that it might cause problems if he returned to Saldaea. I was simply relieved to discover that Rand had very sensible reasons for his decision. So far we have spent too little time in the poor lad’s head to understand some of his decisions, which has been both irritating and led us to be somewhat uncharitable in our assessment of his intelligence! :D

2. Rand balefires Semirhage, then banishes Cadsuane. He says he has become "cuendillar" but Cadsuane sees darkness around him. What do you think it is? Is this a good thing? Will it help or hinder him in the Last Battle?

First, I have to say “HOORAY!” that he actually balefired Semirhage and the creepy Elza into nothingness. I had expected some more whining about not killing women, so this was another huge relief. Perhaps Rand is finally coming to his sense: I do hope so!

I think that Cadsuane is right to be very worried about the new Rand. I assume that she, and mostly everyone else, will see this as a symptom of his imminent descent into madness. As this would be A Very, VERY Bad Thing, I fully understand why she is terrified of what will happen next. I also assume that she now realizes that she has mishandled rather spectacularly and bitterly regrets her decision to berate and bully him in public. I was rather surprised that she was exiled, even though it is a very logical decision from Rand’s point of view. We know that she is supposed to teach him something very important, and I have not seen any evidence that she has achieved this outcome already.

The darkness must be associated with Rand’s use of the True Power. As this is linked directly to the Dark One, I can understand why it might produce an aura of evil around the user. As for its usefulness in the Last Battle, that is difficult to predict. The True Power seems like the ultimate power source, and spectacularly useful at destruction, however, it would seem wise to avoid using it if at all possible. We know that the other Forsaken are very worried about the effects that it will produce in Moridin, so I cannot expect it to leave Rand untouched. It also seems to be even more addictive than saidin, which suggests that Rand will now be tempted to use it at every opportunity. As with Callandor and the Choedan Kal, this might be a weapon that Rand should put away and leave well alone if he can.

I found it interesting that Semirhage’s attack was the catalyst for bringing Rand to an even more dangerous and powerful state of awareness. This makes me wonder if his ability to access the True Power will prove pivotal at some point, thus making this incident vitally important.

3. Gawyn reaches Gareth Bryne where he IDs an Aes Sedai in hiding, and is told the truth about his mother, Elayne, and Egwene's situation. Even after he sees Egwene, do you think he'll go to be at Elayne's side, or stay to be Egwene's warder? Do you think he'll ever accept that Rand wasn't responsible for what happened to Morgase? What will the discovery of Shemerin do for the rebels?

He seems to have some crazy idea of dragging Egwene off to Caemlyn to play happy families with Elayne . . . he really is delusional! :D

He may very well want to fulfill his role as Elayne’s protector, but I suspect that his manly organs will overwhelm his sense of responsibility and the lifetime of training that he has received. If she asks him to Bond with her he will stay with Egwene, and even if she rejects him for some bizarre reason I suspect that he will be unable to tear himself away from her side. I expect much mooning, whining and teenaged angst before these two sort things out . . . I also expect to want to slap them both repeatedly during this period! :D

I can understand why Gawyn is resistant to accepting the reports of his mother turning into a brainless trollop and letting some man ruin Andor. However, he will finally accept this version of events because he will be presented with so much evidence that it is the truth. He already knows that Gareth Bryne is not lying about this; he is just struggling to come to terms with it. I am pretty certain that Morgase will eventually reemerge as herself and admit the source of her horrible behavior. Either that or Elayne will slap some sense into him.

In many ways, Shemerin’s discovery is rather unimportant. She reinforces the evidence for Elaida being a bad Amyrlin, but that is somewhat beside the point at this stage. Of much more significance is her knowledge of a way to get into Tar Valon undetected. This could be very useful if a bunch of soldiers need to get inside to rescue Egwene or help to defeat the Seanchan.

4. Yup. It's official. Sheriam is a Darkfriend. Were you surprised? Does it bring any clarity for you of her past actions? Do you think she'll be successful at stealing the dream ter'angreal?

I was rather surprised and yet we had a brief glimpse of her being tortured by someone several books ago. It makes sense that it would be Halima, who could successfully use saidar to beat and then Heal Sheriam without anyone sensing the channeling. This also explains her increasingly tearful and disheveled appearance in the recent past.

Her role in the Salidar Six is now given a much greater significance and suggests that there may be other Blacks among the rebels. It makes sense that they would be ordered to join both factions and, therefore, have influence over both groups. However, I am not sure who else will be revealed as Black, although I suspect it will not be the obvious choices such as Lelaine and Romanda.

I suspect that she will try very hard to get all the ter’angreal: the possible loss of her fingers will be a great motivator. However, I suspect that she is unlikely to get all of them because I doubt that she knows who has possession of all of them. For example, Siuan has one, but that is a secret as far as I can tell.

5. Aviendha gets her honor back and we finally learned what all the punishments were about. What did you think of the Wise One's tactics? What will Aviendha see in Rhuidean, and what's next for her?

Oh, for crying out loud! As we had predicted, the answer was something mind-blowingly simple and really rather irritating. It makes perfect sense and everything, but I was rather exasperated by it! :D

I guess that it would be too much to hope that she will see a way to trap the Dark One forever or to save Rand from certain death. Her earlier visions were about the Aiel’s past, so I suspect that this time she will see their future. However, I have no predictions of what exactly that will entail, although it will probably be bleak and full of death and destruction. Happy, happy!

After that, I suspect that she will return to Rand and spend a considerable amount of time getting pregnant with the four babies that she is supposed to have. She will need to hurry though, if those buns are to get started before Rand enters the Last Battle.

6. The cockroach incident was pretty gross. It was definitely a dark omen. What do you think this incident is foreshadowing?

I actually thought that this was rather funny, especially when they all decided that bringing the tent and all its contents was the very best idea. I seriously doubt that I could have used anything from inside it ever again!

After the revelation of Sheriam’s allegiance, I suspect that this foreshadows the exposure of the other Blacks in the rebel camp. Somehow, seeing them as cockroaches seems rather appropriate.

7. Hinderstap. (Oh good heavens!) What do you think that was all about? And what does it mean for Mat?

I thought it was rather obvious that they should have left before sunset because the clues were hardly subtle. I had assumed that the villagers must be werewolves, so I was not overly surprised when everything went horribly, horribly wrong. However, it was interesting that there was some sort of ‘reset’ happening to the Pattern here. All the other bubbles of evil have left only death and destruction, but this seems unique in having an almost positive outcome. I am quite sure that the villagers would rather be dead than to live like this, but they seem to be developing strategies for coping and are trying to remain productive. This is actually rather inspiring, and I hope that they get some respite eventually.

I hope that this makes Mat a little more likely to follow the rules in future. It was blazingly obvious that staying after dark was a very bad idea . . . yet another case of a character needing a good slapping! :D


  1. Semihrage balefire party - chicken on the grill, salads on the center table, desserts on the far left table, spankings behind the shrubbery, and balefire demos in the lower field. Enjoy!

    While I am still putting out welcome flags for the Seanchan, I am hoping that Tuon will have them help the rebel Aes Sedai in taking the Tower and not simply show up to do the conquest and enslave thing. After all, Egwene's vision had a Seanchan holding a hand out to her, right? And Tuon wants that chat with Rand. So there is a smidge of hope that things will come out this way.

    I also think that Sheriam will fail in her task and part of me thinks I will be a little sad to see her punished, either by the bad guys or the Aes Sedai.

    Yep. I expect bleak predictions from Rhuidean too. Does Rhuidean do any other kind of visions?

    I was worried that Mat and crew would become trapped in the town after dark, like forever. There were tons of clues that staying was a bad thing and we all know that Mat was actively ignoring those clues (because he always has to push the boundaries). I like your idea of werewolves and I think that might have been even scarier.

    1. Nothing about the Seanchan is ever easy, so I expect things to get much worse before they get better and I expect Tuon’s attack on the Tower to be all about getting a’dam around the necks of all the Aes Sedai and nothing else! :(

      I am also having a hard time hating Sheriam. I am not sure why this is, because she must have done some horrible things in her role as a Black . . . perhaps we will discover some of her misdeeds and that will make us harden our hearts towards her.

      It seems like everything about the Aiel is bleak . . . no wonder they are not all that bothered about dying!

      Yet another example of a character needing a good old head-slapping – though I did not expect Mat to suffer too much because of his status as Hero and the necessity for him to bring Tuon to support Rand. Nothing as simple as a possessed village is going to keep Mat from his Destiny as a grumpy princley husband! :D

  2. Yeah, all things Sheriam are now cast in an ominous light. Remember back in book 2 when Egwene and Nynaeve were still in the Tower, studying under Siuan, and someone found a dead grey man in Sheriam's bed? Interesting now, huh?

    It never occurred to me to think of the cockroach incident as amusing, but I guess I could see it. All these sisters see bugs, freak out, run out the tent screaming and then nuke it. Yeah, kind of funny. So much for Aes Sedai serenity! :D

    And I totally see your point about the Wise Ones. I can kind of see the wisdom, but it's equal parts wise and ridiculous. And I'm all for slapping Mat upside the head just about any time. :D

    My WoT Post

    1. I had totally forgotten about the dead grey man . . . now I am starting to think that I need to reread this series . . . ARGGGHHH!!!!

      It wasn’t the bugs themselves that I found funny, but the way that they were revealed. For some reason I found it hilarious that Romanda was totally distracted by this ominous lump moving about under her carpet . . . which was obviously NOT going to be a mouse! :D


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