Wednesday, July 31, 2013

The Dragon’s Path by Daniel Abraham Read Along: Week 3

If you haven't read the book, I would strongly suggest that you join in and read along with the rest of us as I am thoroughly enjoying it.

You can find all the discussions over at GoodreadsThis week we read through to the end of the Geder chapter that begins “Geder couldn’t say exactly . . .” and ends on page 474 of my Kindle edition.

This book is not quite what I expected because it does not rely upon the usual Fantasy tropes to keep us entertained. The characters are very three dimensional with lots of depth and subtlety. I am very impressed!

Sunday, July 28, 2013

The Shadow Rising by Robert Jordan: Week 9

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 you can find links to everyone else’s thoughts at the bottom of this post.

This week we read through to the end of Chapter 53.

1. It seems to me that the evidence is mounting that Keille is definitely Lanfear. How long do you think she will endure Isendre’s incessant flirting with Rand and rudeness to ‘Keille’ herself? What revenge do you think Isendre will suffer?

Considering that Lanfear was annoyed with Rand dreaming about Aviendha, Elayne and Min, I find it difficult to imagine her patience with Isendre’s behavior lasting much longer. I am very impressed by the self-control that she is displaying at the moment, although I think we can see the cracks appearing. Am I a bad person because I find it hilarious that Isendre obviously has no idea who she is actually insulting when she is rude to Keille?

As for Lanfear’s revenge, I guess this depends on how much more Isendre pushes her buttons. For example, if she interrupted the girl in Rand’s tent I can only imagine a fiery end for Isendre, or perhaps a long life as a toad perhaps. If there is no triggering event then I would imagine a much more subtle and degrading way to put Isendre in her place. However, no matter what, I can only see Lanfear choosing a very public way to humiliate her enemy.

2. Rand’s relationship with Aviendha has softened somewhat, although he did not intend to give a gift to attract her ‘interest’. Do you think that his dream of her, Elayne and Min means that he has found his trio of wives? If so, what do you think of Aviendha standing on the bank whilst the other two women swim naked with him?

This seems like a very obvious depiction of Rand’s ‘three women’, but it seems to make perfect sense even though we have not be inside Aviendha’s head to gain an insight into her behavior. It makes sense that an Aiel would be one of the women because they are the only culture that we have come across so far that has accepted polygamy. This suggests that an Aiel woman would need to be one of the three, who she would accept as sister-wives and make the other two understand that it is not entirely alien to share a man.

However, it seems that the dream suggests that Aviendha has not yet accepted her feelings towards Rand, which is why she is stood outside the group looking in. We know that Elayne and Min have both come to terms with their feelings, and even the possibility of sharing him, so they have ‘taken the plunge’ and are already in the pool with him. It would be very interesting to get inside Aviendha’s head to understand a little of what she is thinking and why she seems so angry towards Rand. Perhaps she is aware of her feelings and is trying to repress them because she feels guilty about Elayne and the promise to keep him ‘safe’ for the daughter-heir.

3. Rand’s life seems to get more complicated with each chapter. We now learn that Sevanna, the wife of the dead Shaido Clan Chief is a troublemaker: is this a surprise? Also, any guesses as to who is sending the Shadowspawn against him?

It seems that the Shaido may indeed deserve the bad reputation that they have amongst the other clans. I cannot see Sevanna and Couladin as a good combination, because both are desperate to gain control of the clan whilst not being able to do so legitimately. I predict much bad feeling and the use of Rand as a reason to dismiss ancient tradition to their advantage in becoming clan leaders. However, Couladin does not seem terribly bright, so I expect Sevanna to be the real danger.

As there is at least one Forsaken with the convoy, Lanfear, she seems like a likely suspect for the person behind the Shadowspawn attacks. However, she has not used them before, and I cannot see how their attacks are to her advantage. If Natael is also a Forsaken, as I suspect he is, he also seems to have very strange plans if they involve these small skirmishes. Of course, they could be trying to test Rand or provoke him into using his channeling as a way to train him, but this seems like a rather bizarre way to go about it. I look forward to someone else working out what exactly is going on!

4. Now that Egeanin has been ‘outed’ as a Seanchan, are you surprised by how Elayne and Nynaeve chose to handle the situation? Do you think they are being wise or foolish?

I have to admit that I was somewhat surprised by their rather foolish trusting of this woman in the first place, especially as they are on a secret mission. Having said that, I was also surprised that Nynaeve did not burn her into a black smudge on the carpet when the truth was revealed. This is not the first time that they have behaved with outstanding stupidity though, so perhaps I should just get used to it. This turn of events makes me wonder if Egeanin will have an important role in Rand’s relationship with the Seanchan and if Elayne and / or Nynaeve are actually ta’veren themselves.

At first glance, it would seem sensible to feed Egeanin to the fishes rather than keeping her around. However, it is obvious that she has had plenty of opportunity to seize them or send people against them during their period of friendship, so it would seem that she is keeping their secret from her masters so far. Although I am not sure if this is simply because she likes them, or if she has some ulterior motive to progress herself within the Seanchan hierarchy, it seems that they can trust her at the moment. How long that will continue I do not know, but she certainly has a good strategic mind and could be rather helpful with her fighting skills.

5. We now know, courtesy of Birgitte, that the dark-haired woman in Tanchico is Moghedien, sometimes known as the Spider. Any ideas why she has not simply pointed out the ter’angreal in the Panarch’s Palace to the Black Ajah or taken it for herself? How many years of suffering do you think Nynaeve will inflict upon her now that she remembers being Compelled?

We have not heard much about Moghedien so far, but I can only assume that she works by getting others to do her dirty work. It would seem that she knows precisely what the Black Ajah are searching for but does not want to compromise her safe position by being too obvious in drawing their attention to it. I can only assume that she expects them to uncover it eventually and she will then hang around whilst they use it, waiting for the perfect time to take control. Perhaps, if they are totally incompetent and spend far too long unable to find it, she will eventually start dropping hints or otherwise poke them in the right direction. However, I imagine that she is a very patient person and will be happy to wait for them as they bumble about foolishly.

I cannot imagine that Nynaeve will ever forgive Moghedien for embarrassing her like that, so I imagine that a long, painful punishment will be needed. However, I wonder how anyone can take on a person who can Compel their opponent so easily. Perhaps Nynaeve will be able to counteract the Compulsion with pure braid-tugging anger! :D

6. Loial has returned safe: hooray! Is there even the tiniest chance that anyone believes Lord Luc rather than our favorite Ogier and Gaul about the number of Trollocs in the area? Any suggestions of why Luc would like Perrin to underestimate the enemy’s numbers?

A slight pause we all acknowledge the total awesomeness of Loial outrunning the screaming hoards of Shadowspawn whilst carrying a fully-grown man . . . for three days . . . Rand seriously needs a small army of Ogier!

I think we had already decided that Lord Luc was a Bad Guy, so I was not surprised that he underplayed the number of Shadowspawn in the area. However, I was very surprised that he did it so bluntly and in front of Loial and Gaul themselves because he has been far more subtle before. For me, this confirms that he is the one controlling the attacks and perhaps it shows that he is getting somewhat desperate because they are not having the effect that he wants.

I can only assume that he is trying to get Perrin to relax his defenses so that they will finally succumb to his attacks. One other reason would be to try to drive a wedge between Perrin and Loial and / or Gaul, but that would show a lack of understanding of how deeply Perrin trusts his friends. The third idea, which I am beginning to like a little more, is that Luc is actually trying to destroy the Whitecloaks and wants the Two Rivers folk out of the way so that he can get on with that task. I await further analysis with bated breath.

7. It would seem that Luc is Slayer. However, he looks different in the Wolf Dream, where he closely resembles Lan. Any guesses as to why he has two different appearances, and why they are both so similar to important members of the fight against the Dark One?

Really, any guesses are welcome here because it makes no sense to me at all. I mean, I am quite happy to see that Luc IS Slayer, especially as he now has an arrow in his chest, but I am totally confused about his two ‘faces’ and their relationships to Lan and Rand. We know that a person can change their dress in Tel’aran’rhiod, so perhaps they can alter their face as well, but that only leads to me asking, “Why bother?”

Other thoughts

Blimey! Perrin and Faile got hitched!

I loved the scene with the chopsticks: wonderful detail and so subtly funny.

There is an awful lot to be sorted out in next week’s reading, although I imagine a lot will continue into the next book and beyond. Squee!!

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Sue's Saturday Suggestions #58

Interesting Books

I have listed these titles in earlier SSS posts: check out my SSS Books Page for links to more reviews:

The Best of All Possible Worlds by Karen Lord, review at Fantasy Cafe

Between Two Thorns by Emma Newman, review at My Bookish Ways

The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken, review at Annette’s Book Blog

Redshirts by John Scalzi, review at Tethyan Books

River of Stars by Guy Gavriel Kay, review at A Fantastical Librarian

Six-Gun Snow White by Catherynne M. Valente, review at The Ranting Dragon

The Thousand Names by Django Wexler, review at Fantasy Faction

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