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 28.
1. What do you think of the Sharans so far? You can address fashion, choices, attitude, class distinction, the fact that one of the Forsaken leads them, whatever you want, or all of the above.
At the moment I am simply irritated at how little we know about them! :D
Their use of Channeled body tattooing to denote status is both strange and intriguing, especially as it seems to imply an inability to change one’s social ranking. As the markings are applied using the One Power, this may not be true, but the idea of a fixed caste system is not one we have seen in this world before (I think). It goes against all my thoughts of self-improvement but I will wait to condemn it until we learn a little more about how it truly functions.
Their society is obviously very authoritarian, like the Seanchan, because Demandred’s rule seems to be accepted without question. Of course, he has assumed the role of a prophesied leader, which I presume has allowed him to suppress any opposition to his authority. A very clever move in my opinion . . . which makes me wonder why none of the male Forsaken tried to be proclaimed as the Dragon . . .
The male Channelers seem to be almost animalistic, so I suspect that they are treated very badly and kept alive only until they start to show signs of madness or Channeling. However, this suggests that they stay alive long enough to breed, which seems like a very sensible option compared to the scorched earth approach that we have seen in all other cultures. I suspect that this means that a much higher percentage of the Sharan population is made up of strong Channelers when compared to the Randlanders and even the Seanchan.
2. Gawyn is actively using the Bloodknife's ring, Leilwin saves Egwene's life, and Egwene meets with Tuon, amidst the chaos of the raging battle. What do you think, what stood out to you, what do you predict will happen?
I predict that Gawyn will soon discover that using the rings was a really, REALLY stupid idea because they are draining his life away. I am not sure if we have been given a specific survival time after the rings are activated, and I assume that using them only intermittently will extend this period, but I am pretty certain that he will not live more than a few weeks. Of course, that might be all the time he has before the End Of The World, so I might be getting all upset with him for no reason. I suppose that I can be impressed by his determination to do anything to protect Egwene, but I more than a little concerned that his motivations are more about him looking like a hero. What a twit!
I was a little concerned that Leilwin arrived when she did. How did she find Egwene in the dark camp? Does this mean that she is actually a Darkfriend after all?? :(
You go, Egwene! During this confrontation I was very disappointed by Tuon’s blindness towards the concept of the Last Battle. Her thoughts about going home to Seanchan and then returning to deal with the Dark One were laughably naive, and I expected better from her. I was seriously impressed that Egwene did not simply slap her! I suspect that Mat saved his lovely wife from a handprint on the cheek or some scorched hair. I still think that Mat will be instrumental in persuading Tuon to be sensible and cooperate with the other armies. Hopefully, he will also convince her to change her thinking on the whole damane issue.
3. It seems that both Agelmar and Bashere might be darkfriends. Do you think they are? If not, what is going on, and might it be connected to whatever Graendal was doing, messing with people's dreams in T'A'R?
Nope! Never! :D
We know that Graendal was manipulating Bashere’s dreams, assuming that Lanfear was telling the truth. In this case I find it easier to believe that Lanfear is being honest than to suspect that either man is consciously being deceitful. I think that we have had enough hints that both of them, and also Gareth Bryne are having their sleep disturbed. I suspect that Ituralde will also be receiving the same treatment. Corrupting the Great Captains is a wonderfully effective way to defeat the forces of Light without alerting them to the source of the attack. We know that Graendal is a master of Compulsion and also psychology, and that she is a consummate manipulator, so I trust Lanfear’s information on this issue.
4. Rand finally enters the Pit of Doom with Nynaeve and Moiraine, leaving Thom outside to witness the fight below. Rand's blood stains the rocks, we hear the DO's voice and Moridin shows up. What do you think of how this is playing out? How do you think Rand will fare?
Although Rand has now fulfilled the Prophecy to leave his blood on the rocks, I suspect that the rest of this battle will not be a stroll in the park. First he must defeat Moridin somehow without losing too much of his strength. For some reason I am strongly reminded of Luke Skywalker facing Darth Vader whilst the Emperor cackles in the background . . .
I am fairly certain that Rand will succeed in his plans destroy the Dark One, as I am eternally optimistic that we have not read this entire series only to have a horribly depressing outcome. However, I expect him to die in the final push, which is why Min has seen his women stood around his pyre.
5. Oh good heavens, Perrin! Slayer tries to kill Rand in the Pit of Doom, but Perrin heads him off. They fight, and Perrin sees phantoms from the waking world (and maybe other worlds!). The wolves want him to lead them into the Last Hunt. He sees Rand and Moridin sword-fighting, speaks to Nynaeve, though she's in the waking world, puts the dream spike around the Pit of Doom, and figures out how to defeat the red-veils (in T'A'R' at least). Um...discuss!
Perrin’s long practice of careful consideration before any action has given him a massive advantage in Tel’aran’rhiod. Both he and Gaul are very disciplined mentally, and this translates into a cool and thoughtful way to challenge the effects of the Dream. At this point, Perrin is almost as cool as Rand in his natural understanding of how to deploy his powers in this world. It is only a matter of time before he outwits Slayer, but I am concerned that he does not know how to get back out of the Dream. As time runs differently from in the real world, I cannot believe that he will ever be able to be in the right time and place to use the Gateway to return to Merrilor.
Maybe I am a horrible person, but I have to admit that I giggled quite a bit once I realized what he had done to the red-veiled Aiel. “You are an idiot.” “Dribble” :D
6. Fortuona has developed some interesting thoughts about Mat. She names him Rodholder. When she hears of Min's talent, she names her a Doomseer and suddenly Min is as important (and trapped) as Mat is in the Seanchan court. Mat throws away his "emperor's clothes" and heads for the battlefield. Were you surprised by the twist with Min? Are you excited to see Mat on the battlefield? Discuss!
I most certainly did not see the twist with Min coming, and I am not sure that there have been any obvious hints that it would occur. Of course, I could have predicted that someone would try to assassinate Tuon ‘soon’ because it seems to be a daily occurrence. Of course, Min does not know that, so it makes sense that she would blurt it out as a way to help. At the moment, Min could do a significant amount of good if she stays close to Tuon, especially if she ‘sees’ anything useful over the damane that she encounters and relates it to the Empress.
I was honestly surprised that Mat had stayed in the highly impractical clothing for as long as he did. Whilst it was funny to picture him in the lush, stylized uniform with his battered hat, it seemed almost out of character that he would wear anything that uncomfortable for so long. I suppose that he was trying hard to do the right thing for Tuon’s benefit, but she will need to change the rules with regard to her new husband, because he will not stick to the old traditions for more than a few minutes before he rebels. If she has a history of training horses she may eventually be able to ‘break’ him slightly, but I suspect that she will give up the effort long before he is fully domesticated! :D
I expect Mat to take to the field and totally outwit the enemy with effortless cunning. This will probably please Tuon immensely and sour his relationship with Galgan even more.
7. Perhaps comment on some (or all) of the more minor events, such as why Moiraine and Nynaeve are getting along so well, while Moiraine and Lan aren't, why Nynaeve would actually seem older without her braid, Elayne's war speech before her troops, the darkness that shadowed the sun for a time, or the fact that Aviendha has officially joined Team Badass.
I think Nynaeve has finally grown to understand how she can protect Rand, and this has allowed her to forgive Moiraine for taking him, and the others, out of the Two Rivers in the first place. She has gained perspective and now sees why those actions were absolutely necessary. I suspect that she and Moiraine are actually very similar and thus they can work together very effectively. I suspect that the lack of her braid removes that ‘twitch’ of yanking on it all the time, which makes her seem much more mature to those who expect to see! :D
We have seen much badassness all around, but I think that my standout moment was that short section of Loial fighting the second Trolloc army. His thoughts about the dead humans were so poignant. I do not think I could cope if he and Erith were killed in the Last Battle . . . sniff . . .