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) Mat and Tuon finally consummate their marriage. Do you think it was all Mat hoped for? Will Tuon's ideas for him in her empire pan out? Tuon gets to keep her damane: how do you think Mat will deal with or adjust to this in time?
I find it very difficult to imagine anything changing Mat, so I was hardly surprised that he was still ogling the help, even though he seems to now ‘prefer’ girls who look like Tuon. I expect that he will still be eyeing lovely young ladies a few seconds before he dies . . . and possibly even after that! :D
I suspect that Mat will fall into step with Tuon’s plans without too much fuss, although he will spend plenty of time moaning and complaining. However, I still think that he will eventually take over as the person in overall control of the armies of Light and that might annoy Tuon for some time. Perhaps his aversion to formality will help to make Seanchan society a little more flexible, which would certainly be a good thing, and I found his ability to persuade Tuon to accept Rand’s terms very encouraging.
I was rather disappointed that Rand allowed Tuon to keep her damane. I can see this being a significant problem to the Aiel and White Tower once the Last Battle has been concluded. Of course, Tuon may see the benefit of releasing them by that time, so this potential point of conflict might still be avoided.
2) Rand and Tuon have their meeting. Feel free to comment away! Also, Mat and Rand have a quiet little bragging contest. What other characters would you enjoy seeing in a bragging contest?
I thought that Rand handled this rather well, and used Tuon’s rigid application of tradition against her. I would still prefer that she admit that it is unreasonable to expect people to honor a pledge given by their long-dead relatives so long ago that everyone had totally forgotten about it. Of course, it is simply an excuse for conquest, but it is still rather insulting and Rand made a very good point about her troubles back home, which she is ignoring for the moment.
I enjoyed the bragging match, which seemed like a very believable way for Mat to express his concern for Rand. It really made their friendship seem very close and very real, reminding me a little of my relationship with my sister. I am not sure that anyone else would engage in this kind of banter: Thom is the only one that I think could carry it off without looking an idiot.
3) Lan's battle continues, though he has to give ground. What do you think about his conversation concerning female warriors? Taim has shown his face at Lan's front; does that change your mind on who might finally get to kill this baddie?
Whilst I think that Tenobia is a bit of an idiot (and shares a lot of unfortunate characteristics with her cousin), I cannot accept that women are unsuited to warfare. Throughout this series we have met many women who are more than capable in a conflict situation, and some men who are completely hopeless. I am all in favor of sexual equality, although I understand that the young Prince is merely displaying his ignorance and youthful bravado. Hopefully he will find an energetic young Maiden to show him how to treat women properly! :D
Argh! Taim needed killing several books ago, but wishful thinking is no use now! I think we are supposed to expect a confrontation between M’Hael and Rand, although I would REALLY like to see Androl slice him in half with a Gateway. We now know that Aviendha will be leading the rearguard once Rand enters the Bore, so she may now be a good choice for the person to finally rid us of his smug, evil face.
4) Do you think there is any significant Dark Friend left in Rand's forces, in disguise/hiding? Lan was asked to keep an eye on Aglemar and Aviendha doesn't care for Alsalam. Is it just so many cultures being thrown together? Or do we have reason to be suspicious of something darker?
I am fairly certain that the armies have plenty of Darkfriends scattered throughout them. It seems only logical that many will succumb to despair and join the Dark Side now that the Last Battle has arrived, just as we see some being called to the Light. All the leaders are taking precautions against such espionage, so they obviously think it is highly likely that there are informants everywhere.
Whilst I am not overly worried about Aviendha’s distrust of Alsalam, it seems that there is something similar happening to both Agelmar and Bashere. Both men look overly tired and have made costly mistakes that seem completely out of character. As they have both proven to be staunch and trusted supporters they would make ideal targets for some subtle manipulation via their dreams or something similar. If we see Bryne and Ituralde displaying similar symptoms I will be very concerned. After all, if I were the Dark One I would try to corrupt my enemy’s leaders if at all possible.
5) In a short conversation with Egwene and Gawyn, Rand reveals that he is Galad's half-brother and that the seals are fakes. Which do you think caused Gawyn more grief? Who do you think switched the seals and for what purpose?
I had rather hoped that Gawyn would be much more reasonable once he and Egwene had come to an arrangement . . . but no! I was thoroughly irritated by his moan about not getting to fight as much as he would like. “I’m such an uber swordsman that it is a waste for me to ONLY protect the most important person on the battlefield.” He is such a spoilt brat and needs a really good slapping! :D
I was a little surprised that he initially thought that Rand and Elayne were related. Surely he should be well versed in the family bloodlines and know that they do not share a parent even before Rand pointed it out. I say again: he needs a good slapping!
I seem to remember Taim telling Graendal that he had stolen something important just before everything kicked off at the Black Tower last week. At the time I immediately thought that he must have acquired the Seals, although I am surprised that Moridin has allowed him to keep them. I suspect that the Dark One is channeling his inner Sauron and could never imagine that the Light would want to actually destroy the Seals: he probably thinks that they want to keep them nice and safe. He is going to be so embarrassed when he breaks them and Rand says “Thanks!”.
6) Bashere and Elayne are trying to outmaneuver 2 armies of trollocs. Meanwhile, Egwene's forces are routed by the sudden appearance of the Sharran army. Will the forces of good be able to recover prior to Rand's duel with the Dark One? Any 'in retrospect' comments concerning the Sharrans? Did you see that coming?
I am quite sure that they will pull through, but it will be a close call, especially if the Great Captains are being influenced by the Dark somehow. As with the Battle At The Black Gate, it will all look completely hopeless before Rand saves the world and everyone lives happily ever after . . . well, almost everyone . . .
Yep, totally predicted the Sharans. I would have been massively surprised if they had not made an appearance at all because we know that the Forsaken have knowledge of their existence. We saw Graendal with Sharan ‘toys’ so it would make sense that another of the Forsaken would see them as a potential fighting force. I suspect that we will soon discover that Demandred is leading this particular thorn in everyone’s side.
By the way, I am afraid that I did chortle a little when Romanda was blown to bits because she did not listen to Egwene’s command. This seemed like a suitable outcome to her lifelong determination that she was always right and nobody else knew a thing.
7) Lorella Aes Sedai and the rest of the Reds hanging around outside the Black Tower insist on Bonding their promised 47 male Channelers. Egwene has sent riders to fetch them back in order to send them to Lan. Are we about to see the moment the purpose of the Reds changes? Do you think Pevara and Androl have shared the double Bonding technique with the male Channelers?
I think that the Reds changed their purpose when they sent the first group of women to bond Asha’man, and Pevara is certainly a good indication that their thinking can be changed in a radical way. I believe that Lyrelle is actually a Blue, hence her determination to get out from under Lelaine’s control, and she leads a group composed of all seven Ajahs. However, it is great to see all the Ajahs working together without all the stupid in-fighting that we have witnessed for the entire series!
I did wonder if Androl had spoken to the ‘volunteers’ about this particular aspect of Bonding. It will certainly give the Aes Sedai a massive surprise if he has . . . I just hope we get to experience it from the perspective of an idiot like Lyrelle who seems to think that the Asha’man need to be controlled like rabid dogs.