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 1.
1. We get a terribly interesting chapter from Isam's POV in the Town below Thakandar. So many things we could talk about here, including the pointy-toothed Aiel. What stood out to you? What did you think? What do you want to know more about?
I guess that the thing that stood out the most for me was my incredulity that any child could have survived in such a terrible place: I suppose that it is hardly surprising that he might be a little ‘unbalanced’ by his experiences. I have a horrible suspicion that we have heard Isam’s name somewhere before, but I am at a loss to remember where exactly. I assume that he is originally from one of the Borderlands, otherwise he would be unlikely to have reached the Town, I just hope that he is not Lan’s evil twin brother.
The Samma N’Sei seem as massively unpleasant as we had already suspected, but seeing them run and hide from the groups of thirteen channelers and Myrddraal makes me even more worried. Isam thinks of them as being Turned, and the description is remarkably similar to what we are seeing in the Black Tower, so it seems that I was right to think that they are the male channelers that wandered into the Blight. This would also explain the references to the Talentless, who are treated as disposable and are presumably the non-channelers who end up in the Town. It also explains why they would instinctively fear the groups of Myrddraal and channelers that must be the Turning squads. Whilst it is partly comforting to see that they did not choose to become evil, it only makes them even more dangerous because we now know that the Shadow has a useful army of psychopathic killer Aiel asha’man.
I was a little confused about his new mistress. It seems that it was not Moghedien, as we had a section from her POV later in the Prologue, nor was it the newly hideous Graendal. That suggests that it was Lanfear/Cyandane in disguise, but she is supposed to be controlled by Moridin, and he does not want Rand dead . . . However, it certainly fits in with her latest pleas for Rand to help her, or am I just getting very suspicious? :D
2. Talmanes becomes a freaking hero in his own right. Will Nynaeve's healing be enough to save him? What did you think of his antics against the trollocs in Camelyn?
If Nynaeve cannot save him then he has no hope, however he did seem pretty much dead when she approached him. I hope that he pulls through, just so that he can berate Mat on leaving him to become a hero when all he wanted to do was smoke his pipe and relax! :D
I found the sections from his perspective very entertaining, especially the sequence when he threw himself the Myrddraal and laughed at its shock. He was almost channeling his inner Mat by that point, and it was interesting to see how much he has been altered by his time in the Band. I was rather hoping that he would knock some sense into Guybon, who was being a bit of a whiny girl whilst the city fell into ruins around his ears, though he finally saw the sense in abandoning the palace and trying to save the dragons.
I noticed that Olver was conspicuous by his absence: I was rather worried that he would pop up at some point to place himself in peril!
3. Leilwin offers her services to Egwene. What do you think will come of this? Will Egwene be accepting of a Seanchan servant?
We know that Egwene had a Dream where she was saved by a Seanchan woman with a sword: it seems very likely that Leilwin will prove to be that savior. However, I could understand if Egwene were a little reluctant to have a Seanchan warrior near her after the attack on the Tower and the Bloodknives. Hopefully, she will see the potential for fulfilling that Dream and accept Leilwin’s protection: I am sure that Nynaeve will eventually agree that she is trustworthy.
4. Bair goes to Rhuidean after hearing Aviendha's account. Do you think she'll see what Aviendha saw, or something different? Do you think she was wise to send herself?
I suspect that she will see something very similar. Fear of this future would be much more likely to destroy the Aiel than even the knowledge of their origins, which explains the rule about not entering the Pillars for a second time. If the visions were more random, I doubt that the rule would exist.
My only criticism about Bair going herself is that she has no way to return quickly because she cannot form Gateways. This seems a little silly, but perhaps she quickly arranged a return trip with Aviendha using a note or something else that we missed! :D
I was intrigued by Bair’s comment about Nakomi feeling like a very old name.
5. Evil Mofo Meeting! Taim is raised to the level of Chosen and Moghedien is commanded to "help" Demandred. What disasters do you see arising from these decisions, if any.
What a surprise: Taim is a Very Bad Man!
I suppose that we needed confirmation of his evilness, but it was hardly a shock. Now, if they had revealed Loial as the next Chosen I would have probably swallowed my tongue! :D
I am even more firmly convinced that Demandred is working in Shara, the lands beyond the Aiel Waste. He is obviously not at work in Randland or Seanchan, so that does not leave many options unless there is yet another giant land that we have not yet heard about. I can only hope that Moghedien will ‘help’ him by being a totally incompetent nuisance and ruin all his plans. Unfortunately, I doubt that she will be allowed to be that useless without being killed, so I predict a very unpleasant surprise for everyone when Demandred arrives with a massive army of unknown forces. Unless, of course, Jain Farstrider suddenly returns to share his knowledge of the Shara . . .
I do not think that Demandred is responsible for the attack on Caemlyn: Rand’s thoughts about this possibility seem like a red herring to me.
6. What do you think of Egwene's argument about when to break the Seals? Is she right?
I can see the logic in what she is saying, and I am glad that she has accepted that the Seals do need to be broken eventually. Once she and Rand finally have a chat, I am pretty certain that they will be able to come to an agreement. I am not quite sure what needs to happen before everyone is ready for the Dark One to be released, but destroying most of his evil forces beforehand seems like a pretty sensible idea. After all, we know that they will have the ‘surprise’ attacks from the evil Asha’man and Demandred’s army to deal with before they even worry about the Big Bad.
7. Rand says it is the last night of peace they will know before the end, and on the morrow he will meet with every leader of the known world to forge an alliance. Predictions?
I hope to goodness that he manages to beat some common sense into everyone. I am a little concerned that either the Shadow or the Seanchan will use this gathering as an opportunity for an attack: the opportunity to remove a lot of the Light’s leadership in one move could be rather tempting. I presume that Aviendha’s arrival means two things become possible. Firstly, she will be able to alter events in order to avoid the future that she saw in her visions and hopefully save the Aiel from becoming a bunch of grumpy war-mongers. Also, she does rather need to have sexytimes with Rand, otherwise those quadruplets are going to be rather difficult to create! :D
I do not see how the Seanchan will be part of the peace treaty that Aviendha foresaw, unless Rand somehow gets Tuon to the meeting as well, but perhaps he plans to add an amendment to the bottom without anyone noticing. I am also wondering where the Ogier have got to: surely Loial persuaded them to join the fight and not run off to another world . . .