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 14.
1. Rand is traveling around, giving precious gifts to Elayne and Lan (so far.) Is this his way of saying goodbye, his final will? Do you think he is being unnecessarily fatalistic?
It certainly feels as if he is taking this opportunity to do as much as he can before time runs out. We know that he has accepted that he will need to die in order to save the world, but I do not get the impression that he is being overly melodramatic or pessimistic. Even the Prophecy seems to suggest that he will not survive his confrontation with the Dark One, so it seems sensible for him to put his affairs in order whilst he can.
On a side note: I did rather feel sorry for him that nobody had bothered to mention Elayne’s condition to him . . . it seems like he is the last person in the world to find out.
2. Egwene stands strong in Kandor, but the other two battlefields are suffering setbacks. Do you think the Light has to do something drastic, or will they be able to weather the storm with the current plan?
I have to admit that I was beginning to wonder when Taim and his cronies would appear in the battles. I know that the Dark One has more Trollocs than anyone can count, but his new Dreadlords are somewhat useful as well . . . and they take less feeding!
I never expected the Last Battle to be a minor skirmish and over easily: it is The End OF The World, after all. Given that they are fighting to save the future of the world, I would rather assume that it is going to be a very difficult fight and will look completely hopeless for most of its duration. In that frame of mind, I am rather impressed by how well it is going.
The current plan is working reasonably well, and we can assume that the Seanchan will eventually join the cause, once Mat has talked some sense into Tuon. However, we still have not seen Demandred and his army (presumably from Shara). I suspect that he will upset the plan rather spectacularly.
3. Mat joins the story, on his way to Tuon in Ebou Dar. Will the “Seanchan Question” finally be resolved? Rand seems to be hesitating, too...
Mat seems like the only hope to persuade Tuon to do the right thing, but the new and improved Rand may have something in mind as well. I suspect that Rand is waiting to give Mat time to reach his wife and soften her up a little bit before he approaches with his solution to the problem. Or perhaps he is just too busy handing out presents! :D
I was hardly surprised to learn that there is a conspiracy to remove Tuon. I am continually amazed that the previous Empress survived long enough to have any children at all, let alone a small flock of them. Perhaps Rand’s solution will also help the Seanchan to develop a more stable monarchy without all the backstabbing.
4. Rand takes his turn on the battlefield, but is turned back. Do you expect him to try again, or is this the last we see of him on the field before the invasion of Shayol Ghul?
Hopefully, this will mark the last time that Rand tries to solve a problem all by himself. At least he realized that it was a trap before getting sucked in too deeply, but he has to rely more on his followers and survive to fulfill his purpose in Shayol Ghul. Perhaps he needs the Maidens, or more likely Min, to knock some sense into him . . . or perhaps Moiraine will simply give a stern look and remind him of his only role in this conflict.
5. Perrin leaves and takes the battle to the World of Dreams... in the flesh. Do you think it is as evil as it's claimed? Did you like his speech? Was it wise to bring Gaul, untrained, to this fight?
I suppose it depends on what you mean by ‘evil’. The other people who are very experienced in the Dream fall mostly into two camps: the evil agents of the Shadow and the Wise Ones who are ever vigilant about what they do there. I suspect that the seemingly limitless power of being there in the flesh is very persuasive and we all know that power corrupts . . . and Slayer is a pretty good example of what can happen to people who resort to this hunting ground. However, Perrin has already fought his own desire for power and strength, so I doubt that he will be tempted to the Dark Side.
Gaul seems to be doing quite well, even if he is untrained in the ways of the Dream. I suspect that the mental discipline common to all Aiel warriors makes him unlikely to do anything massively stupid or rash whilst he is there, and it is always good to have a second pair of eyes when Slayer is involved.
6. Lanfear makes another plea to Rand, and he lets her into his mind to prove he is over her. She then appears in the World of Dreams to pester Perrin. What game is she really playing at?
I was rather pleased that Rand burst her bubble so completely: perhaps she finally got the message that he will never by her path to power. At the time she seemed somewhat crushed by this realization, but I suspect that she will soon become filled with rage at his rejection.
I am pretty certain that her actions to help Perrin are aimed more at annoying Moridin in a petty attempt to ‘pay him back’ for his torture over the last few months. Of course, if she undermines him sufficiently she might be able to become the new Nae’blis . . . in other words, she is still as self-deluded as before and working entirely for her own benefit. If she accidentally helps Perrin or Rand it will just be a happy coincidence.
7. We find out how people are turned to the Shadow. What do you think of this mechanism? Are the turned really turned, or just taken over, as Androl seems to think?
It all sounds rather horrific, but it is a rather neat way to gain supporters and reduce the Light’s fighting capacity. However, I cannot help thinking that it rather reinforces my opinion that it shows the Dark One as weaker than the Creator, who needs no such method for gaining followers. This makes me wonder how it can happen at all, given what we know about the Pattern and its determination to maintain balance.
It seems that they are still themselves, as witnessed by how Androl and Emarin were able to manipulate former friends because they knew their personal weaknesses so well. This suggests that they are not possessed as such, but perhaps placed under a very powerful influence, something similar to Compulsion. However, I find it interesting that it only works on those who can actively channel at the time of the ritual, which suggests that it has something to do with their link to the One Power.
8. It appears Taim and his cronies are finally ejected from the Black Tower, although Taim is still alive. What do you think of how this went down? Will we now see the good Asha'man lend their strength to the fight? Could that turn the tide of the war?
It was all rather epic, and had me on the edge of my seat because it looked so hopeless. However, I am beginning to wonder just how small the Two Rivers could have been, because it certainly seems to have created thousands of highly useful individuals! :D
It was good to see Androl make such excellent use of his ‘pathetic’ talent in a combat situation. Of course, we had already seen Rand doing something similar, and Androl himself had been using tiny Gateways to cut his leather, so it was not too much of a surprise. I particularly liked the idea of horizontal ‘trapdoors’! :D
I suspect that all the good Asha’man will immediately run off to follow Logain and Androl into the Last Battle, which will certainly be useful, especially as they know exactly who all the bad ones are. I am not sure if they will prove to be as pivotal as the Seanchan, but they will hardly make things worse.