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 massive, and I do mean MASSIVE, Prologue.
1) We have a meeting of the minds of Arad Doman. Lots of new side characters were introduced at this meeting. Was it a bit tangled for you? Will this strategy negatively affect the Aiel, and hence, Rand?
I am not sure if it was due to my holiday, the less than ideal reading conditions, my advancing old age or the sheer number of characters in this series: but, yes, this was a little tangled for me. I was also a little unsure of the precise time at which this occurred: we know that Mr Jordan sometimes begins a new book slightly earlier than the ending of the last one, so I could not be sure of who exactly the Aiel were in this case. Hopefully they are Shaido and get their asses handed to them, which would help Rand a little. However, we know how tough the Aiel are, so I would expect the Domani to regret this decision.
It also seemed to me like the conflicting orders being issued by the King were so random that it was blazingly obvious that a Forsaken in actually in control. I have a dim memory of Graendal being disguised as an aged Domani lady, so it is probably her.
2) We have the questionable pleasure of riding around in Valda's head (Lord Captain Commander of the Children of the Light). Since Morgase slipped through his fingers, her step son Galadedrid (Galad) is no longer a useful tool for him. What do you think Valda will do with him? What do you think it would take for Galad to sever ties with the White Cloaks?
Anything nasty that happens to Valda will make me happy: I am just glad that Morgase it out of his reach for now. As for Galad: Valda seems most likely to send him off to his certain death, but the lad is a master swordsman and will be tough to kill. I suppose that he might be kept close at hand so that Valda can keep an eye on him, but this seems less likely.
I am pretty sure that the only thing that will split Galad from the Whitecloaks is his death. However, I am not sure that he will accept Valda’s version of events surrounding Morgase’s disappearance, so perhaps he will finish off the Lord Captain Commander for us.
3) Mishraile tracks down Logain in the woods and spends some time mocking him. What do you think the M'Hael's private lessons at the palace include?
Perhaps I was in a bad mood when I read this, but I found Mishraile very irritating. He is obviously a Darkfriend because he is a supporter of Taim, who could not be more obviously a Very Bad Man if he had a tee shirt printed saying, “I am a Very Bad Man!” His whole attitude made me want to slap him and I was rather impressed that Logain did not do precisely that.
I would suspect that Taim is giving them private lessons in smugness, self-satisfaction and overbearing pride . . . although I doubt that they really need to practice! I am not sure if he is actually teaching them any channeling, although he could have held back some especially horrid weaves for his personal cronies.
4) The wise Sisters of the White Tower are sneaking around trying to ferret out further Black Ajah. How do you think they will ever trick or lure Atuan (who they strongly suspect of being Black Ajah) to a secluded place for questioning? Do you expect their elaborate, if well intentioned, scheming will get noticed?
Ha! I sometimes wonder that these women can actually sit the right way on a toilet! :D
Given the way that everyone is creeping about and scurrying round the corridors, I imagine that it will be difficult to lure anyone anywhere for an ambush, but Aes Sedai are so over-confident that I might very well be proved wrong. However, you would imagine that the head of the Black Ajah would realize that her numbers are starting to fall and that some of her minions are no longer turning up for their nightly cackling duties. Once the Black Ajah realize that they are being hunted it could get very dangerous in the Tower. But, then again, the highly compartmentalized way in which they are organized might mask the hunters’ behavior for quite some time to come.
5) Gawyn is back in the picture, finally! And what a mess! He feels bound to Elayne, Egwene, and the White Tower. Blindly, he agrees to do all he can to carry out Elaida's orders. What do you think Elaida's (or perhaps Alviarin's) orders are?
At least Gawyn is now very cynical of the Aes Sedai that he has to deal with. I know that he is a trusting, honorable soul, but his blind loyalty was getting a little wearing. Of course, he is now stuck because of the snow and the naiveté of his followers. At least he is able to be rude to the Aes Sedai without fainting, which seems like a vast improvement to me.
I am not sure that they are Alviarin’s orders, because she seems to have vanished from the Tower. As a side note, this makes me wonder if this is the disappearance referred to in Winter’s Heart or another one. Argh!!!! I have no idea what Elaida might ask Gawyn to do, especially as she does not seem to do very much that seems sensible. I guess it all depends upon whether or not she still wants him alive. Perhaps she still sees him as useful as a way to control Elayne, but I am not so sure.
6) Deira Bashere, Davrim's wife, was injured when she walked in on two men ransacking their tent. They escaped, only to be found later, already dead. Speculation as to a) what the men were looking for; and b) who killed them?
These guys must have been pretty stupid to try to attack Deira Bashere! She seems like a very lethal person to me, but I suppose that they were ordered to stop anyone knowing that they had tried to search the tent. I suppose that they would be looking for maps or orders that could provide someone with an idea about Rand’s location or intentions. However, I am not sure of that: they could have had some other purpose, which depend very largely upon who sent them. There are so many potential enemies that I do not see any way to narrow down the suspects at the moment: although they obviously sent the men who killed the burglars in order to prevent them revealing their orders.
7) Loial and Karldin are trying to track down Rand to report on their efforts. Just as Samitsu gets their true identities out of them, it is announced that Lord Dobraine has been killed. Who do you think attempted to kill Dobraine? What is it that Loial fears they may have found?
Yay! Loial is back! Were you fooled by his little identity deception? :D
I have to say that I found Samitsu rather irritating to read because of all her worries about her personal power and authority over the other sisters. Perhaps I am getting anxious about the Last Battle, but I do have to wonder if the Aes Sedai will ever be able to set aside their petty bickering long enough to do anything useful.
As with the attack on Deira Bashere, it is difficult to narrow down the possibilities because the list of potential enemies is so long. However, it seems that they underestimated Dobraine’s determination to survive.
Loial is always worried, so we could just be seeing this in his concern about speaking to Rand. However, we know that he was travelling to the steddings to warn them about the shadowspawn using the Ways, so he could quite easily have found something extremely worrying. At the moment, I do not feel able to guess, but it is certainly bad enough to worry Karldin as well, which suggests that it is a real threat and not just Loial’s nerves.