Sunday, March 30, 2014

The Path of Daggers by Robert Jordan: Week 6

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.

Good grief, I am so glad that we are going straight on to the next book because this one ends with so many cliffhangers!

1. The Sea Folk have made a Bargain with Rand. Do you agree with him that it is not as restricting as it might seem? Were you impressed with his scheming way of immediately seeing a way to their demands to reduce their impact?

At first glance, it did seem to be highly favorable to the Sea Folk, so I was not surprised that the Sisters were worried about admitting that they had agreed to it. I automatically thought that it would give them almost total control over all the ports and their trade, just like Dobraine does. However, I thought Rand’s solution was rather neat and crafty: fulfilling the letter of the agreement, but not necessarily the intention.

I have to admit that I was very impressed by Rand’s quick thinking here. I am not sure who has been so successful at teaching him to be crafty and picky with the wording of agreements, but they have done a very good job. However, I was rather cross with his attitude towards the Aes Sedai that he left to do the real negotiating: he walked out of the talks, taking his ta’veren effect with him, so he should not be angry that things went much less smoothly afterwards.

2. I honestly thought that Cadsuane had met her end and that Rand was going to burn her into a tiny, crispy pile of ashes. Knowing what we do about her intentions, were you surprised by how she dealt with him? Are you worried about his anger management issues?

After the careful thinking involved in finding a way around the Bargain with the Sea Folk, I was sorely disappointed with his reaction here. Yes, I know that Cadsuane was being deliberately provocative, but his actions seemed to be driven by pure emotion and could have had a very bad outcome. Of course, I did snicker quite a bit as she was totally unruffled by all his bluster and displays of strength. She and Sorilea are wonderful characters and I hope that they survive to entertain us for the entire series.

I honestly think that her approach was fairly successful. It certainly shocked Rand into being polite and more than a little compliant, and it showed a huge strength of character on her part. However, I am not sure that Min, or I, can cope with too many displays like that! :D

3. The Super Girls have a murderer in their midst. This was a total shock to me, but did you see it coming? Do you have any suggestions for the murderer’s identity and the reason behind the deaths?

I was not terribly surprised that Ispan bit the bullet because she could presumably spill a lot of secrets that other Darkfriends, or Black Ajah, would want kept quiet. However, I was totally shocked by Adeleas’ death and I have to admit to tearing up a little when we heard Vandene’s screams of anguish. I have a sneaking suspicion that the murderer will suffer some rather unpleasant revenge from the aged Sister.

As so many of the group come from Ebou Dar, there are many possibilities. I am trying to remember if we have had any indication of Darkfriends amongst the Sea Folk, but they could hardly have had a connection to Ispan and therefore would not fear her revealing them. For a similar reason I doubt that it is any of the Kin that were at the Farm. The use of the herb suggests that it could have been one of the Healers from the Kin that had been in the city and possibly in contact with Ispan. However, I feel that the prime suspects have to be the other Sisters that were in the city. They are most likely to be known to Ispan and threatened by her torture. Other than that, I do not have any particular suspect in mind, mainly because I do not feel as though we have seen much of those Sisters.

4. We witness the rather unpleasant demise of Jaichim Carridin and Falion Bhoda being terrified into submission. Any thoughts on Lady Shiaine and her activities? Is anyone else seriously creeped out by Daved Hanlon and his unpleasant memories?


I have to assume that Shiaine is actually Mili Skane, who we saw working at a similar level in the Darkfriend hierarchy as Carridin in Ebou Dar. However, it would seem that his obsession with Mat and refusal to follow orders has caused him to be demoted rather permanently. In some ways I felt quite sorry for him and the manner of his death, but knowing that he had effectively raped Morgase made me much less sympathetic. The same holds true for Falion: she would administer this punishment to someone else in a heartbeat, so I cannot feel too upset about it.

It would seem that Daved Hanlon is being set on Elayne’s trail, so I guess that we will need to keep an eye out for likely candidates in her associates in the near future. His memories were truly distasteful so I hope that Aviendha or Birgitte, or both, get the chance to kill him slowly very soon.

5. It would seem that there are some rogue Asha’man. I think that Dashiva has always seemed rather ‘off’, but were you surprised that they attacked Rand so openly? Do you think that this will postpone any chance of him ‘visiting’ Elayne in the near future?

We have had so many hints about Dashiva and his strange behavior that I was hardly surprised that he was behind this attack, although I have to say that I was rather startled by its blind ferocity. After all the time on the campaign against the Seanchan, when Rand could quite easily have been removed by a well-placed arrow, it seemed rather foolish to try this form of attack. However, we know that most Darkfriends are somewhat lacking on the ‘sensible planning’ talent. I wonder what precipitated the attack now, although we may never know if Rand did indeed manage to convert them into black smudges on the floor.

I was somewhat surprised that Rand did not simply grab Min and Travel somewhere far away once the dust settled. A trip to see Elayne and Aviendha might be just what he needs after such a traumatic event, especially as his bedroom has been completely destroyed. In fact, I think some well-earned sexytimes might do them all some good, although I am not sure that I want to know too many details of how they manage their strange arrangement.

6. The aftermath of the attack was rather strange and I was seriously disturbed by Rand’s murder of Fedwin Morr. Why did he suddenly have the mind of a child and why did Rand kill him? Did Taim’s appearance make you more or less suspicious of him?

Yet again, I was really shocked by this, which was becoming a bit of a motif in these final chapters! :D

At first I thought that Rand had killed him because he suspected him of treachery, but that makes no sense at all, given that Rand set him to protect Min. I can only assume that the poor lad’s mind had snapped during the event, because there was no mention of him being simple-minded before the attack. This makes much more sense, because then Rand was using the poison to give him an easy death, which he had earned through his loyalty.

By now, I could see treachery in Taim going to the bathroom! He may have been genuinely innocent of this attack, but he could also have been trying to appear innocent, so he has not made me trust him just yet. It seems very likely to me that he sent his men to kill Rand and then showed up to appear all surprised and shocked once he realized that they had failed. I guess that he might prove his loyalty by hunting them down, but somehow I feel as if they will prove elusive. 

7. The last ‘real’ chapter was packed with “Argh!” moments! Do you think that Masema might give himself a coronary if Perrin aggravates him enough? Did Berelain escape to warn Perrin about the Shaido taking Faile? Why on Earth did we have to stop just as the rebels arrived at Tar Valon??????

I honestly thought that Masema was about to have an aneurism or a stroke when he got all worked up at Perrin’s ‘rude’ behavior. As with Taim, I find it difficult to trust him and learning about his dealings with the Seanchan does not improve my opinion of him. I know that these dealings do not automatically make him an enemy of Rand’s, but I fear that he will be reluctant to relinquish his personal power to anyone, even the Dragon Reborn. I suspect that he will prove dangerous to Perrin.

Can someone PLEASE kill Sevanna as soon as possible? She is such a total nuisance and is leading a lot of presumably reasonable Shaido into doing Very Bad Things because of her greed. I suspect that Berelain escaped and will thoroughly irritate Faile by helping to rescue her and the other prisoners. Then, perhaps, Faile can take some knives to Sevanna’s hide and do us all a huge favor! Or Perrin could beat her to a pulp with his hammer, or fists, I really do not care as long as she ends up dead . . . of course, she is probably going to be around for many more books to come just to irritate us . . . boo! :(

NOOOOOOOOO!!!!!! Mr Jordan: how could you stop your book with the rebels arriving outside the White Tower????? I wanted Elaida’s horrified reaction and realization that her term as Amyrlin is going to end very soon. I imagine that it will be a little like that scene in The Two Towers, where Saruman leads Grima Wormtongue out onto the balcony overlooking his giant army . . . although I doubt that Elaida will shed tears of stunned joy! :D

Other Thoughts

I felt so sorry for the poor souls who read this book when it was published. I know how frustrated I am waiting for Mr Martin’s The Winds of Winter . . . and The Thorn of Emberlain by Scott Lynch . . . and Brandon Sanderson’s next volume in The Stormlight Saga . . .

Oops: I forgot to ask what everyone thought about Dyelin and her claim to be supportive of Elayne’s claim to the throne. I know that we had already discussed her and whether or not she intended to go through with supporting Elayne. She has always struck me as straightforward and honest, and this has not changed now that Elayne has arrived. If she is not a staunch supporter, then she is a very good actress!

I am really looking forward to finding out what Mat has been up to in Ebou Dar with the Seanchan and, hopefully, the Daughter of the Nine Moons. I am also a little worried about Loial and would appreciate an update on his visits to the Stedding.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

The Path of Daggers 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 26

1. Most of this section comprised Rand's battle against the Seanchan. What are your thoughts about this section? You can address the nobles, how Rand handled it, how the battle went, how it was written, and/or what the ramifications will be. Basically anything you want. 

The guerilla tactics seemed to work very well, especially against such an overconfident opponent. I liked the back and forth between the two groups: it allowed us to get a sense of how Rand’s strategy was exploiting many of the Seanchan weaknesses and spreading panic among the officers, rather than leaving us in the dark about this. The way that both sides decided that they were beaten was an interesting way to end it and seemed like a logical result of the losses on both sides. It is almost frustrating to know that Rand could have pushed on and broken the invasion at that point, but that would make life far too easy for him so I was not expecting a decisive win at this time. I strongly suspect that Mat will need to work his charms on the Daughter of the Nine Moons in order to bring about any kind of agreement between the two forces.

It was very satisfying to see the Seanchan beaten, yet again, and I expect to enjoy Suroth’s ultimate defeat with great relish. I will also be relieved when the damane are freed and they are no longer petted like trained dogs, which I find more than a little sickening.

2. The two noble women with Rand pulled out belt knives when Rand was thrown from his horse. He wondered if they'd been meaning to kill him or protect him before Bashere came crashing to the rescue. What do you think?

I doubt that even they really know what they were going to do. Each of them is very uncomfortable with Rand because he is both a male channeler and the conqueror of her nation. In the very short term, both would probably feel a whole lot better if he could be removed with a minimum of fuss. However, the women will also both know that he is the Dragon Reborn and, therefore, vital for the survival of mankind in the Last Battle. Would you really want to kill the world’s only chance of defeating the Dark One just so that you could feel a little more comfortable?

They are both also aware of the loyal troops that follow him: men that might be very suspicious if Rand were to suddenly fall to a wound from a small knife. Then there is the concern that they might only wound him and then have to deal with a very angry, possibly crazed, version of the man that turns their bowels to water. Finally, there is the problem of their antagonism towards each other. Both of them might possibly have gone through with an attempt on his life if she were alone, but not in front of an enemy who would undoubtedly use the action for political gain.

3. Liandrin is a slave to the Seanchan! Thoughts? Feelings? Expletives?

Look, I am playing the world’s smallest violin to express my sympathy for Liandrin! :D

I think we all wished this day would come to pass and it was a joyful experience to realize precisely who it was that was being a truly terrible slave. Oh, how I chortled with glee! Possibly the only thing more fitting would to see her being disciplined by Sorilea, but this will do for now.

4. Rand's bundle turns out to be Callandor. What do you think of the way he tried to make use of it and why it didn't work? Or did it?

Yay! I love being right!

This was really rather annoying as it was blazingly obvious that the One Power was having a bad or whatever for everyone else, not just Rand. He had already seen the Asha’man losing control and killing his own troops, so why did he think that he would be any different? Plus, he had been struggling with the dizziness for the last few days, which should have been a colossal warning to use saidin with great caution. As he took up Callandor, I was doing the “Don’t do it!” chant. :(

The problem with the One Power is very worrying, although I wonder if it is connected to the use of the Bowl, as it seems to be worst around Ebou Dar. If that is the problem, then the effect should dissipate with time, if not then we may have a more serious problem on our hands. I also wonder if Callandor is a double-edged sword, so to speak: a very powerful artifact, but difficult to use safely.

5. We see a major shift in Rand's thoughts/personality here. He's gone from the bumbling farm hand to a somewhat arrogant battle lord. Thoughts about this? How will it affect events and his chances of making it to the Last Battle?

I see many potential problems for Rand at the moment: his increasing difficulty using saidin safely being only one of them. He has isolated himself almost completely, which places all the responsibility on his shoulders and he is not handling this pressure at all well. He trusts very few of the people around him and so shares none of his worries and concerns with them: this is making him into a poor leader. As we saw with the terrible effect of his use of Callandor, he is not thinking logically or even taking notice of the obvious problems occurring around him. This strikes me as a classic symptom of Depression and he will not improve until he lets someone share his burdens.

Whether or not he is descending into madness seem to be the least of his worries at the moment. He may lose his support because of his own erratic behavior and poor judgment.

6. Alviarin disappeared from the Tower for two weeks before suddenly returning to stomp all over Elaida again. Where do you think she went? And what is Mesaana up to with that decree recognizing claiming the Tower is "guiding" the Dragon Reborn?

No particular destination strikes me as obvious at the moment, though we know that Mesaana taught her how to make a Gateway not long before she left. Perhaps she simply went home to visit her dear, sweet old mother . . .

As for Mesaana, we know that the Dark One has ordered the Forsaken to cause chaos, so I can only assume that this decree will help with that. It is a very Aes Sedai type of move because it can mean many things, depending upon your point of view. If you support both the Tower and Rand, it will seem like a good thing, but if you are in any doubt about these two powerful factions then it will only add to your unease. It will certainly make Rand even more wary of the Tower and its intentions, which may be Mesaana’s real goal here: to keep the two powers from forming an alliance for as long as possible.

7. The sisters Elaida sent to break (*snorts*) the Black Tower is easily brought to heel. What do you think Logain did to Toveine and what will happen to the Tower sisters who were captured?

Ah yes, Elaida did make some wonderfully stupid assumptions during her sections this week, but this one was particularly snort-worthy! :D

Whilst I thought that it was inevitable that the Asha’man would wipe the floor with the Sisters, it was still gratifying to see how they were taken completely unawares. Such rank ignorance and self-deluding overconfidence really does deserve to come up against an opposition that can outmaneuver it in a wonderfully casual way. I am really hoping that the Aes Sedai will FINALLY start to be more cautious of those who can oppose them and treat them with a little respect. (Yeah, right!)

It was wonderful to see Logain again, and to know that he is in the Black Tower and not overly happy with Taim. This only adds to my suspicion about M’Hael and his true intentions. Whilst I can imagine his good looks causing a normal woman to swoon after a single kiss, I think that it is much more likely that he Bonded Toveine. I am afraid that I did snicker a little at the image of a Red Sister going all girly over a male channeler when he kissed her, but I am still uneasy with the ‘forced’ aspect of this action. Just as with Rand an Alanna, it is a form of rape, and not something that I condone.

If her initial reaction is anything to go by, I think that Toveine will be furious at first but quickly come to see that there are some rather positive advantages to being Bonded to an Asha’man. The fact that Logain is a bit of a stud muffin will not hurt in this case and we know that she has a bit of an eye for the lads anyway. The idea of two channelers Bonded seems like a terrific idea as they will form a very powerful fighting team.

Other Thoughts

The Empress’ Deathwatch Guards includes Ogier! :O

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Words of Radiance by Brandon Sanderson Read Along: An Invitation

The first giant tome in The Stormlight Archives, The Way of Kings, was epically awesome, so it is no surprise that I have already signed up to take part in the Group Read for the second brick in the series. If you would like to take part you have a week to get organized.

The poor souls trying to herd us cats into some semblance of order are Susan at Dab of Darkness and Carl at Stainless Steel Droppings. You can sign up to take part at either of their sites.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

The Path of Daggers 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 21

1) Egwene has shown the Salidar Aes Sedai some of her strength. Do you think they will fall into line now or continue to push for power of their own? If you could step into Egwene's shoes for a few minutes, how would you handle some of the more 'uppity' Aes Sedai?

She has certainly out-maneuvered them all for the moment, which was rather gratifying and made me want to cheer quite a lot! :D

I find it hard to believe that Romanda and Lelaine will simply fall in line with Egwene now, even though they were shocked into submission by her declaration of war. However, we saw how the Sisters in Ebou Dar responded to Elayne’s power play, so I would not be surprised if they really do see this as a change in the political climate. I sincerely hope that they give up their petty bickering and throw their influence behind Egwene because I am rather tired of all the pointless politicking when the end of the world is looming large. They all have much more important things to worry about at the moment: perhaps the Seanchan will clarify that point for them. I suspect that they will continue to jockey for position, although they will now treat her with the respect that she deserves.

I think that Egwene has been remarkably patient with them: I would have been tempted to take the strongest one, Shield her and then beat her with flows of Air until she was a horrible teary mess. Ultimately, I think that Egwene’s approach has probably been more effective and a testament to the self-control that she learnt during her time with the Wise Ones. 

2) Siuan has constant advice for Egwene, telling her the Secret Histories of other Amyrlin Seats. Do you think the irritation of her constant advice will outweigh the knowledge she is passing on and Egwene will snap and tell Lord Bryne of Siuan's affections? Or do you want to know more of the Secret Histories?

I do not get the impression that Egwene is irritated by Siuan’s advice, although she is frustrated by the former Amyrlin’s irritability and wandering mind. I loved the moment when she simply spoke out to Siuan with brutal honesty: I really like Siuan, but it was good to see her gaping like a fish! I think Bryne is quite aware of how Siuan feels, but is playing it very cool and allowing her to work things out for herself. The little smiles that Egwene caught are probably enough to let her know that he knows what is going on, so I doubt that she will feel the need to say anything to him. I am also fairly certain that she trusts and respects Siuan a great deal, and truly values her friendship, so I think that it is unlikely that she will blurt out anything too bad. I like the way that she finds fault with Siuan and then automatically thinks of how she moons about over Gawyn, so I think that she has plenty of sympathy to keep her in check.

Although I am not sure that I want to know the entire history of the Tower in excruciating detail, I am certainly fascinated to learn that they have been busily rewriting their history ever since it was founded. Although I can understand their desire to present an impression of unwavering power to the general populace, I have to wonder why they have not altered their rules and traditions to improve the way that power is managed within the Tower. Surely they should learn from the problems that are being hinted at and adjust the rules to try to minimize the chances of them happening again. This seems like a much healthier approach than simply pretending that they never happened. However, this inability to break with tradition goes a very long way towards explaining the way that modern Aes Sedai think and interact with the world. Thank goodness that the Super Girls are going to shake everything up.

3) Roedran Almaric do Arreloa a'Naloy has a plan to use the Band to unite the Murandian nobles behind him. Do you think it is that simple and will go so easily? Should Talmanes listen to his inner heart and go fetch Mat instead?

Nothing unites a people quite so well as an enemy on the doorstep, so this plan could work. Like Egwene, I worry that he may go back on his word and try to defeat the Band once he has an army at his command, but that seems unlikely because of their connection to Mat and, therefore, Rand. It would be nice to meet a ruler that is both devious and also honest, so I hope that it all goes smoothly and with minimal loss of life.

It is difficult to argue against Talmanes rushing to rescue Mat, who we know must be trapped in Ebou Dar with the Seanchan. Indeed, Egwene should know that he is not with Elayne and the others, although his fate is still a mystery to all of us. Perhaps he is busily lounging about in bed with the Daughter of the Nine Moons and having a fine old time, but I doubt that. I suspect that the tug that the Band is feeling will pull them south eventually and that they will be crucial in helping him to escape from something.

4) War on Elaida has finally been declared and Egwene plans to have the Salidar Aes Sedai and their warriors Travel in one month. What could possibly go wrong with this plan?


I love the way that the Aes Sedai are all bad-ass and invincible . . . and then someone mentions open warfare with the sitting Amyrlin and they throw up on the carpet! :D

Apart from feeling sorry for the servants who have to deal with the newly soiled carpets, I think that this declaration was long overdue. What did they really think that they were doing? Their flight from the Tower and refusal to obey Elaida’s proclamation to return were indirect declarations of their intention to replace her as Amyrlin. Then they elected an alternate Amyrlin and Hall: placing themselves in open rebellion to the lawfully elected leader of their order. How could this end in any other way? They were incredibly foolish if they thought that there was still any chance that the whole thing could be kept hidden, so the declaration needed to be made formal and public.

I sincerely hope that we get a scene where Elaida receives the news, because I want to revel in her shock and fury! :D

The idea of Travelling has been a very obvious one that was starting to annoy me because nobody had mentioned it. I could have understood if someone had given a rational argument for not using this technique to bypass all the snow, but just ignoring it was irritating. Of course, the vast majority of the Aes Sedai have been in no rush to reach Tar Valon, so they would not even think of a way to get their more quickly.

Again, I hope we get to see Elaida’s reaction when all those rebels and their army spew out of a Gateway on her doorstep. I doubt that the siege will be an easy matter, but it will cause some amazingly entertaining infighting in the Tower.

5) Elayne has been playing with the angreals. In fact, she was playing with a rod when something happened. No one will tell her what happened, though everyone grins when it is mentioned. What do you think that angreal is and what do you think Elayne did and why can't she recall?

Well, it is a smooth, rounded, red rod . . . so my immediate assumption is that it is some sort of sex toy, given the way that everyone finds the whole thing hilarious. My only concern is that it is described as being as thick as a person’s wrist . . . maybe they all have skinny wrists in this world or Elayne is more flexible than I would expect! :D

6) Narishma fetched something for Rand. What do you think it is? Do you think Rand was a little harsh with Narishma? What would Lews Therin say to all this?

I have to assume that he was sent to fetch an angreal that Rand can use in his battle with the Seanchan. It is obviously fairly bulky and it is wrapped in a cloth, possibly to allow Narishma to handle it without ill effect or possibly because everyone will recognize it: this makes me think that it is probably Callandor. This also explains the man’s complaint that Rand had not told him precisely how to retrieve it: we know that it was surrounded by numerous traps and inverted weaves. I assume that Rand had forgotten to mention all the weaves and so Narishma triggered at least one trap and nearly died.

I am quite sure that Lews Therin would be very angry that Rand trusted one of the Asha’man with such a powerful artifact. I am not sure that Narishma could actually wield it effectively, but Rand took a significant risk in allowing the man to fetch it and I am not sure why he did not simply Travel to Tear and draw it himself.

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