Saturday, February 21, 2015

A Memory of Light by Robert Jordan: Week 6

It seems like the end of an era: this is the last time that I will set questions for this Read Along because we only have two more weeks of reading to complete. It seems only yesterday that we started this epic journey . . .

This week we read through to the end of Chapter 36.

1. Finally, Graendal’s Compulsion of the Great Captains has been uncovered. Do you think that Mat’s medallion will protect him from her ‘advances’? It seems as if Ituralde was the only Captain to resist the Compulsion: any ideas about why that might be?

I certainly hope that the medallion will provide some protection from her, although her ugliness will probably cause Mat to steer clear anyway! :D

Graendal’s plan almost succeeded, and it may still have been the greatest blow that the Shadow has managed to inflict upon the armies of Light. Not bad for an appearance obsessed shrink! If only the other Forsaken could have caused such devastation with so few resources then we might be facing a real possibility that all Rand’s efforts would be in vain. I know that we are now at the low point of the Last Battle, where everything looks desperately bad and the Dark One may soon be cackling wildly over the remains of Life As We Know It. Of course, I have unshakeable faith that we will have a (more or less) happy ending and that no matter how dark things look we will not all want to slit our wrists at the final outcome.

I was rather surprised that Ituralde seemed able to almost overcome the Compulsion. I am not sure if this is supposed to be because Graendal had just started trying to manipulate him or if he is supposed to have greater self control than the other Great Captains. Perhaps it was simply because we saw this section through his eyes, whereas we saw the others confronted by other POV characters. Perhaps they had all been having a similar response, but we just did not witness it. I like to think that all three of the other Captains are equally tough . . . although his nickname of The Little Wolf suggests that he might end up with golden eyes at some point . . .

2. Mat rides into battle and is suitably awesome. Do you think that Tuon is reassessing her ability to control her Prince? Could this be the end of formal Seanchan society as it has existed for thousands of years?

Mat is always entertaining, and his actions here were pretty much what I have come to expect from him. I can only imagine the amazingly effortless way in which he mows down ranks of the enemy with his ashandarei. I have a mental image of all the Seanchan soldiers standing around with their mouths hanging open as he goes all ‘bullet time’ on the Sharans.

I hope that Tuon is wise enough to give Mat enough independence to allow him to be effective as the overall General of the combined forces. I suspect that she continues to struggle with his inability to simply do as he is told, but she has already had quite some time to see how he operates so perhaps she is becoming resigned to it by now. At the moment it seems that her subjects are much more scandalized by his behavior than she is, which I find rather encouraging.

I would rather hope that Mat manages to make the Seanchan a little more flexible in their adherence to etiquette, but that will only happen if Tuon allows it. There have been times recently when her inability to move away from established procedures and protocol has seemed to slow her actions and possibly even damaged the Light’s chances of success. Her use of a giant throne in the command tent seems like at least one tradition that could be forgotten. Perhaps she will see that Mat can inspire devotion and loyalty without having to sit on a ten foot tall chair all the time.

3. Perrin and Slayer clash again. It seems like Perrin is still outmatched, although he is continuing to improve, but will he ever be able to dispatch his enemy? Were you surprised that Lanfear proved to be as fickle as we had suspected? Will Perrin take any further part in the Last Battle now that he has returned to the waking world?

It seems like every time Perrin improves he is still not good enough to best Slayer. This is becoming rather frustrating and I am not overly convinced that Perrin is being very useful running around on this personal vendetta. I know that Slayer has been sent to attack Rand, and that Perrin uncovered Graendal’s actions against Ituralde, but I hope that his efforts will have a more concrete outcome. I wonder if his prolonged stay in the Dream has weakened him, which might be why Slayer still has the upper hand: he certainly seemed to be struggling towards the end even before Slayer’s arrow found its target.

The only aspect of Lanfear’s betrayal that surprised me was that she gave up on Perrin so easily. It seems like forever since she first attached herself to Rand and he has spent almost the entire series trying to get rid of her, but she has hung around like a particularly bad skunk smell. Perhaps the poor girl is finally beginning to learn from her mistakes and will now take “Argh! No!” as an answer! :D

If this is the end of Perrin’s role in the Last Battle then I will be very disappointed, as he does not seem to have really accomplished a great deal. However, he seems to have been overcome with both mental and physical exhaustion, never mind having an arrow stuck in his chest. I suppose that a bit of Healing and a square meal will have him fighting fit in no time, but I still worry that he has over-reached himself. Of course, he will need to return to the Dream, if only to collect Rhuarc and help out the wolves.

4. The battle outside Cairhien is almost lost and even the mighty Ogier are starting to fall when Androl produces a miracle. What did you think of Logain’s comment about the notes in Taim’s rooms: does he have a list of all the Shadow’s battle plans? Please comment on the epicness of Androl’s miracle! :D

I seriously hope that none of the Ogier died in this battle, otherwise I would have some very serious words to say to Mr Sanderson! :(

It would be nice to think that Taim had left behind some vitally important information that will help the forces of Light to be victorious, but I doubt that he would be that stupid. Also, we all know that wars are very fluid, and so plans are constantly updated, which means that these are probably out of date. I presume that it gave an overview of the three intended attacks, although I have no idea why Logain decided to help Elayne’s army. Perhaps he had scouts have a look at all three battlefields and decided that hers was most in need of assistance.

I am beginning to wish that we had met Androl much earlier in this series. His solution to the Trolloc horde was wonderfully elegant but so delightfully effective. I wonder if we will see any more innovation in how Gateways can be turned into weapons. It would be interesting to experiment . . .

5. Tuon is taking the End Of The World in her stride, with her giant travelling throne and making full use of Min’s Talent. Are you a little disturbed by her serenity at this time? Do you think that Min’s demands will be met, or will she eventually refuse to reveal her viewings?

I almost get the impression that Tuon has not quite understood the severity of this situation. As we saw last week, when she thought about going home and sorting out Seanchan before returning to fight the Dark One, she seems to be failing to grasp the consequences of failure at this time. I hope that this is simply because she is just so good at hiding her indecision and fear of what might happen and not that she is oblivious to the danger.

I was a little confused by her insistence about the viewings until she began to interpret them herself. She certainly seems completely ruthless in how she applies what she learns from them, although that was not really much of a surprise at this stage. I thought it was remarkably stupid to discuss the viewings in public because it places Min in an incredibly dangerous position: anyone wanting to ferment rebellion would need to remove Min before attempting to move against Tuon. Perhaps Tuon sees that as a reasonable risk, but I suspect that Rand would not feel that way.

6. Just for a change, things go horribly wrong. Do you think that the black spikes were a deliberate attack against Faile’s group? Can you believe that Vanin and Harnan are actually Darkfriends, or were they just after the tobacco? Is there any chance that the Horn will make it back to Mat’s hands?

It is difficult to say, but it seems very unlikely that they could have altered the destination of that Gateway, which suggests that somebody wanted to send Faile out into the Blight. Knowing that Lanfear has been trying to get inside Perrin’s pants makes me suspect that she might be behind the attack, but the evidence is certainly limited. I cannot believe that somebody has uncovered Faile’s quest to deliver the Horn, which is why I think that this might be a personal attack upon Faile herself.

I find it very hard to believe that Vanin and Harnan are Darkfriends. They have had so many opportunities to do evil deeds, especially Vanin, that this does not ring true to me. It makes very little sense that someone knows about the Horn and has chosen these two to attempt to steal it, even if they are being Compelled like the Great Captains. If Graendal were behind this attack it would make much more sense for her to simply Compel Faile. I genuinely think that they were after the tobacco and had just discovered the Horn when that giant bear thingy attacked them. However, I suspect that Faile will accuse them of being Darkfriends unjustly.

Whilst I would like to see the Horn brought into play, I think that everyone is rather forgetting about Mat’s death in Rhuidean. I suspect that the Horn is no longer bound to him, because that death has broken the link and that somebody else will be able to blow the Horn at the appropriate time. I just hope that it is not Faile, because that would be far too ironic.

7. Red veiled Aiel infiltrate the camp in Thakan’dar and cause mayhem. Do you think that even Cadsuane and Sorilea are powerful enough to defeat Graendal? Will the Aiel ever recover from the shame of learning about the fate of their male channelers?

Whilst I am pretty certain that they could join forces to fix her with hard stares, I am not sure that even Cadsuane could best one of the Forsaken, and we know that Sorilea can barley light a candle with the One Power. However, they are more than capable of mounting a formidable defense and the use of circles could give them the power that they need to defeat her. Even so, I suspect that Aviendha will be the main actor in the confrontation with Graendal: I just have a feeling that she will do something epic before she weeps over Rand’s pyre.

This did make me wonder what they imagined had happened to all those men over the years. Did they honestly think that they had all simply dies in the Blight? Shame on them for underestimating not only the survival skills of their menfolk, but also the cunning of the Dark One in exploiting a source of useful minions!

8. Rand is frozen in place as he battles the Dark One. Why is Moridin frozen as well? Do you think Nynaeve will be able to do anything to help Alanna before she can release Rand from his Bond? Is there any chance that Nynaeve can save the world by simply bopping Moridin on the head with a big rock?

I am not sure if this is an indication that Moridin is an embodiment of the Dark One somehow. Alternatively, I thought it might be a product of their strange connection, although we have seen much less evidence of that since Rand had his epiphany. Of course, it would be rather unfair if Rand froze and then Moridin got to chop him into tiny pieces unimpeded! :D

I was very surprised to find Alanna chained to the wall. I think we last heard of her disappearing and leaving behind one of Verin’s letters. At the time it seemed as if she had dashed off in response to the letter, but I suppose that she might have been kidnapped and that the letter was simply a red herring. It would have been nice if Rand had noticed her being mistreated or terrified, but I suppose that he has been rather busy and has kept her boxed up in his head for most of the time since she Bonded him.

It seems like a bit of improvised field dressing is all that Nynaeve could offer Alanna at this point as I rather doubt that she brought her full first aid kit with her when she packed for this very brief journey. You would rather hope that Alanna would have the good sense to release Rand from her Bond now that it looks like she is going to die, but she has never struck me as overly gifted with common sense. Hopefully Nynaeve will knock some sense into her and get her to release him before it is too late.

Bopping Moridin on the head with a boulder may do no good at all, but I am quite sure that it would make me, and Nynaeve, feel a whole lot better about the situation if she tried it! :D


Not trying to be a nitpicker or anything, but why is the Shadow taking so long to arrive at Merrilor? Surely they can just open a few Gateways and zap over there to finish the bloodshed and mayhem: are they taking the scenic route? :D

Sunday, February 15, 2015

A Memory of Light by Robert Jordan: Week 5

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 . . .

Sunday, February 8, 2015

A Memory of Light by Robert Jordan: Week 4

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.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

A Memory of Light by Robert Jordan: Week 3

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.

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