Sunday, November 16, 2014

The Gathering Storm by Robert Jordan: Week 7

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.  Egwene appears very reluctant to forgive Siuan and Gawyn for having rescued her from Tar Valon.  Do you think she went overboard?  Has Siuan lost her status for ever?  What sort of thing might it take for Egwene and Gawyn to finally get together as they should?

I suppose she did seem a little harsh, but she was much more concerned with her efforts to reunite the Tower than her own personal safety. Her disappearance after the attack could have been very problematic because she could have been accused of deserting her Sisters in their time of need, although I think her defensive actions would have countered that complaint. Still, she did not know that Elaida had been captured, or that the Ajah Heads would finally see sense and make her the true Amyrlin.

I am certain that Siuan will retain much of her status with Egwene, probably by becoming the head of the Blue Eyes and Ears network in the newly unified Tower. Her actions were based upon much more sensible reasons that Gawyn’s, which were still driven by the idea of Egwene as a helpless little puppet. I imagine that their hormones will finally push the lovers together, but Gawyn’s attitude needs some very serious adjustment before they can have a healthy relationship.

2.  The Black Ajah is purged and all its members are now either dead or missing.  Do you agree with Egwene's plan, or would you have waited until after the reunification, to get all of them at once? Would you have liked to see the hunters in the White Tower (Saerin et al) play a larger role?

This seemed like the most sensible approach because it meant that Egwene could trust all of the rebel Sisters as her forces attacked the Tower. She did not anticipate the Tower allowing her to enter without a fight, so I can fully understand why she did not want Blacks ‘accidentally’ killing people or causing other problems. Also, it would have been very difficult for Egwene alone to subdue the entire Tower: this way she only had to bend a few to her will before then relying upon them to help with the others in the camp and then back in Tar Valon itself.

I did not expect Saerin or the others to step forward because they were too few in number to risk exposure. However, I assume that they were the ones who handed over the Oath Rod. It is a shame that secrecy is such an integral part of life as an Aes Sedai, but in this case I think that they were right to stay quiet.

3.  The Aes Sedai are reunited, eight books after the split, with no more bloodshed.  What do you think of everything?  Do you agree with the decision to take Silviana as a keeper, and to distribute the blame?  What will now happen with the Red?  And just how epic were those speeches?

Egwene has become my favorite character during the last few books because she has shown the most growth and huge heapings of common sense, which seems to be in short supply in this world! I loved the way that she handled every step of this journey, and I cannot fault her motives or plans.

I thought that Silviana was an excellent choice. She is a remarkably competent woman who will do almost anything to fulfill her duty. However, she was also the only person to openly stand against Elaida and rebuke her for her treatment of a lowly Novice. She grew to admire and respect Egwene and she has a uniquely intimate knowledge of just how strong the new Amyrlin really is.

I hope that the Reds can see Silviana’s position as an olive branch and start to trust again. Egwene’s decision to berate everyone, including herself, should help this a little as they must surely expect retribution and petty revenge from the Blues if nobody else. I suspect that it will be difficult to persuade everyone to try to be one happy family, as it seems like the inter-Ajah bickering is a centuries old tradition. We can see how difficult it is for Cadsuane to change her way of behaving and I suspect that she is fairly typical of most Aes Sedai in that respect.

4.  Were you happy to see Hurin again?  Do you think he was happy to see Rand?  What can be done now, from Rand's side, to fix this problem with the Borderlanders?

I was certainly surprised, but it made sense to send someone that Rand had known personally as a messenger. However, the message he carried was highly likely to get him killed, so I was rather annoyed with the Borderlanders for putting him in such danger. Of course, he was probably overjoyed at the chance to reunite with ‘Lord’ Rand . . . poor guy!

I rather hope that Rand will simply send Bashere to grab hold of Tenobia, by the ear if possible, and drag her out of Far Madding. Their message was incredibly insulting and I would not blame Rand for choosing to just ignore them for the duration. Of course, he has sent them a massive insult by suggesting that they are cowards sitting in Far Madding to save their own hides, so he might provoke them into a meeting. However, it could be that the ‘new’ Rand will have a different opinion, so we may see him submit to their demands and face them in Far Madding after all.

5.  Rand has a surprise meeting with Tam, for the first time since book one, and it does not go well!  Even though Rand was insane, how much blame rests with Cadsuane and Nynaeve here?

It is easy to see this meeting as a total disaster. However, it acts as the catalyst to Rand’s epiphany, which can only be considered a Very Good Thing. It was certainly a very risky maneuver, but I cannot think of anything else that could have worked. Whilst it seems that Cadsuane is the author of this plan, I imagine that all the Wise Ones had a chance to persuade her of its foolishness if they thought it was hopelessly stupid, and I am sure that Nynaeve would see the possibility of Tam being able to reach Rand when nobody else could.

6.  We got some more hints about the nature of Callandor, and now that the male Choedan Kal is also destroyed, they are more relevant than ever.  Does anyone want to try guessing what it's for?

Callandor is shaped as a sword, which would rather suggest that it is intended to be used as a weapon. It places no limit on the amount of power that the user can draw, which is probably a good thing if you are planning to use it to destroy the Dark One. So that is my prediction: Rand must use it to defeat the Big Bad Guy.

That only leaves us with one other puzzle: whom will he choose as the two women in the Circle? One obvious pairing would be Elayne and Aviendha. These are both very powerful channelers and Rand trusts them completely. However, he did not ask either of them to help him with cleansing saidin, so they might not be his first choice for this task either. Elayne’s confirmed pregnancy and Aviendha’s supposed quadruplets might also make him unwilling to risk their deaths in such a risky action. Plus, we know that Elayne is struggling with her channeling and might be too busy leading her armies against the Shadow. That makes me think that good old Nynaeve might be called upon to tug her braid at the Dark One, possibly with the help of a certain annoying Blue that is going to be rescued in the next book . . . he trusts both of these women as much as anyone else, and they are both certainly stubborn enough to stick with him to the bitter end.

7.  Rand travels to Dragonmount and has his epiphany.  Is he now sane for good?  What do you think he will be like when we see him again?  Was this what Cadsuane needed to teach him?  Feel free to speculate on the nature of the Lews Therin voice.

I am not sure that he is entirely sane, but he has certainly come to terms with what he has to do. Releasing all that anger and frustration will hopefully help him to be slightly more agreeable and approachable to his allies. I hope that he will be a little more like the Rand we first met in Book One, although there may be an overtone of sadness. At least he will be less likely to simply balefire people for being a little annoying! :D

Cadsuane’s actions have certainly helped him to integrate Lews Therin and find a way to go forward without despair and anger. In this respect, she has certainly taught him something massively important. However, this may not be all she has to do to fulfill Min’s viewing.

I am still not sure what to make of Lews Therin. Is he really a separate personality inside Rand or simply a figment of his madness? The fact that he knows things from the past suggests that he cannot be just an aspect of Rand himself, but that might be far too logical for this series! :D


  1. I agree with you about Egwene's attitude toward Gawyn and Siuan. Perhaps a bit harsh, but she didn't know until later that all her progress in the Tower hadn't been lost. Now that she does, I'm thinking forgiveness will come pretty quickly. I would loved to have seen Bashere drag Tenobia out of Far Madding by her ear! That would have been fantastic! :D Like you, I thought that, despite the scene with Tam being terribly tragic, it also led to Rand's epiphany, so it probably needed to happen that way. I'm not sure about Lews Therin, either, but I think there's a clue in the sentence about how he and LT aren't two separate men and never were. If they are supposed to be the same soul (just reborn) then maybe those memories really are locked away in Rand somewhere. I don't know. Interesting discussion point, though. :D

  2. Sigh...You notice how both Gawyn and Galad think of the women in their lives as helpless women being used as puppets, lead astray? Maybe Morgase's dreadful dalliance with Ravin wasn't the first and only time she let a man dominate her life and her politics?

    Good point - the Aes Sedai have had inter-Ajah 'competitiveness' for centuries. Egwene might have her hands full getting that back to a healthy kind of competitiveness.

    I love the idea of Bashere grabbing Tenobia by the ear and dragging her to a meeting like an errant child!

    That would be awesome if Moiraine and Nynaeve were paired to assist Rand in using Callandor, especially since Nyaneve never got along with Moiraine. Someone will have to put Nynaeve's braid in a bun to ensure she still has long hair by the end of the series!

    Yep, Lews Therin could be just a figment giving Rand intel on the past, and that would work with this series. Though I would like a more logical answer myself (but I doubt it will ever be spelled out in the books).


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