Saturday, August 24, 2013

The Fires of Heaven 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 16.

1. Do you think that it is possible that Nynaeve and Elayne will be more cautious in the future and avoid the next very obvious trap that arises? Also, any ideas where the extra pigeons were going after Mistress Macura’s recovery?

I am not sure if I am just judgmental, but I am getting a little tired of their never-ending ability to walk directly into any trap, even the ones that are so obvious that they could have a sign on them saying “This is a trap!” Seriously, why would you trust some random woman just because she has the correct sign for the Yellow Ajah nailed to her front door? I would hope that this episode will FINALLY make them realize that trying to hide from the Black Ajah and at least one of the Forsaken means that there are bad people about! Good grief!

I found the extra pigeons rather intriguing. I can understand why someone would want to keep a watchful eye on a woman supplying information to the Tower because we know that there are divisions between the Ajahs and that not all the Sisters get along. Of course, there are plenty of other people who might want to be kept informed, with the Forsaken and Whitecloaks at the top of the list. As for Mistress Macura’s extra pigeon, I have to admit that I am a little disappointed that she is not just a simple supporter of the Yellow Ajah. It seems like straightforwardly honest people are few and far between in this world, so it would have been nice if she had just been following her orders with no additional political intrigue.

2. We now know that the Blue Ajah is massing in Salidar, and I wonder if other renegade Sisters will head that way as well. Is anyone else feeling that their choice of meeting place is nice and convenient for our wayward Amyrlin? Do you think that Nynaeve and Elayne will hear the location and join up with our merry band?

It would have been Murphy’s Law if the Blues had been banding together thousands of miles away from Siuan’s current location. However, I can understand why they chose Salidar now that I have looked it up on a map. It is relatively central, but not too close to Tar Valon, while its proximity to Whitecloak central makes it an unlikely choice. Siuan mentions it as the birthplace of a famous Blue, which seems to make it an obvious selection, but we also know that many of the settlements in this borderland have been abandoned, so maybe it has been empty and forgotten for a long time.

From Nynaeve’s comments it sounds as if she read the name, although it would mean nothing to her even if she remembers it. However, a quick conference between Egwene and Moiraine will solve that mystery and I expect the girls to motor towards Salidar once they throw Galad off their scent.

3. Were you surprised to discover that Gareth Bryne had the hots for Siuan? Are we going to have a soppy love story involving fishing metaphors?

I was rather surprised by this, as there was no real suggestion in the earlier chapters that his interest was at all romantic. I had assumed that his interest was because he had a vague feeling that he had seen Siuan before or something similar. Also, and I hope this does not sound too awful, but I find it a little difficult to imagine Siuan being all that loveable. However, Bryne did have an affair with Morgase, so I guess that he must like pushy women!

We know that he is smitten for some reason, but we have not seen Siuan pining away for him in the same way. However, she does seem very determined to keep her word to him, so perhaps there is something there as well, and she did do a lot of staring . . . I cannot wait to hear the fishing sayings that are suitable for flirting, dating and catching a husband!

4. Is anyone else hoping that Birgitte will have a larger role in the story in the near future? Is Egwene really a prude or do you think that Nynaeve’s dress in Tel’aran’rhiod was amazingly slutty?

I find Birgitte a really interesting character and I like reading her appearances, so I really hope that she becomes more important and soon. It seems that she may be about to be woven back out into the Pattern, but I worry that she will not have much time to grow up and become a stunning archer before the Last Battle arrives. I am intrigued by her decision to break the rules and help the girls: I wonder if this means that one or both of them are Ta’veren?

We have talked about Egwene’s prudish attitudes in past weeks, but I do get the impression that Nynaeve’s outfit is more than a little revealing. I would also imagine that it is a shock for Egwene to see Nynaeve dressed like that, because the Wisdom has always advocated sober, practical clothing in the past. It is episodes like this that make me really like Nynaeve: she is so unintentionally funny whilst being terribly realistic.

5. Were you surprised by the sudden reversal in the power dynamic between Nynaeve and Egwene? During her testing to become Accepted, Egwene saw herself as Amyrlin, does her increasing self confidence make this future seem more likely?

At first I was a little shocked by this, but it shows that the Wise Ones are teaching Egwene more than just Dreaming. It is good to see her becoming much more confidant and forceful, as she has been a little too submissive and passive-aggressive in the past, especially towards Nynaeve. However, she is also very headstrong, so I worry that she may become overconfident and rash, which could be a deadly combination. As for Nynaeve’s sudden weakness, I found this rather more surprising but a welcome relief from her constant self-righteousness.

While the new Egwene appears to be channeling her inner Siuan Sanche, I fear that she is still too young to be taken seriously by the other Aes Sedai. It seems that Moiraine is starting to treat her more as an equal, but her age will always be a disadvantage when she deals with those Sisters that are unfamiliar with her. I wonder if she will be used as a compromise candidate because she has no associations with the major factions. I would imagine that the dominant sitters would expect her to be easily manipulated, although I predict that they would be in for a surprise there.

The one thing that strikes me as most strange in all of this is their relative strengths with the Power. We have been told over and over again that Nynaeve is much more powerful, even though she can only channel when she is angry at the moment. We have also seen that Sea Sedai use relative power as a way to establish their hierarchy, so Nynaeve bowing to Egwene does against the norm.

6. Do you agree with Elayne that Galad would actually hand them over to the Whitecloaks? I can see Thom fitting in with the travelling Menagerie, but how much braid-pulling do you expect from Nynaeve?

If what Elayne and Gawyn have said is true, then Galad would have no qualms about doing what he considers to be ‘right’ and handing the girls over to the Whitecloaks. He is obviously a person who sees everything in terms of black and white and pays little attention to the possibility that he is the only person to behave in that way. His stubborn refusal to consider bending rules is very arrogant and could place the girls in grave danger, but he will walk away with a clear conscience because he has behaved ‘correctly’. It seems to me that he is deceptively beautiful on the outside: a clear example of beauty being a poor indicator of character. I find him very annoying and self-righteous.

I have to admit that I did not see that plot twist coming. However, we have had people join up with ‘gypsies’, so why not have others run away with a ‘circus’? I did think it strange that the menagerie got so much description, but did not expect it to become a hiding place for the girls so soon: I expected a more subtle reintroduction much later on. I am sure that Thom and Juilin will fit in very well, but I am not sure how Elayne will earn her keep: I am not sure that people will pay to see her raise her chin regally! However, I can imagine Nynaeve drawing quite a crowd as she shoots fireballs from her eyes! :D

Extra Thoughts

Am I the only one who loves the fact that Bella is still alive and adding her own shaggy presence to the story? I also love how Siuan expects this most placed of horses to eat her face off! :D


  1. Hi Sue! (Venturing to other blogs here.)

    1. If I were you I wouldn't have too much hope... but as far as I remember, most of the stupid ones are done with now. Not that they don't end up in more danger, I just think it's less obvious from now on... at least as far as Nynaeve goes. I'm not sure if that's good or bad, and I can't get over thinking of Elayne as a dolt. But whatever.

    The pigeon scene is interesting, partly because it's one of the few times where Jordan used an "omnipresent" point of view. I haven't the slighest idea where they went, and I can't remember if we ever get to know. It's interesting that one went to Tarabon, was it? We've heard before that Tarabon is strangely silent. I wonder what's going on there now...

    2. Yes, Salidar is very conveniently placed right in the path of both our runaway ex-Amyrlin and the supergirls. And I quite expect them to meet up, in one of the few examples of storylines converging instead of diverging (at least until the end).

    3. I was surprised, but stilled Siuan is really cute ( so I don't really mind. :|

    Screw her silverpike, seriously.

    4. Yeah, I like Birgitte, too. She will get her moment soon, but in exactly what way, I'll leave you to discover :). My mind tends to just skim the neckline sections, haha.

    5. Yeah, this is one of Egwene's most important character developments. She gets a lot of flak for being at times too sure of herself, but we can come back to that later once we learn where she fits in this story.

    6. Elayne definitely knows Galad better than I do, so I'm not one to judge. It seems exceptionally harsh even for a half-brother with no sense of familial relationships to do that, though.

    Ah, and enter Valan Luca and his menagerie, the number one sign of the dreaded WoT plot inertia (next to Perrin brooding and Elayne bathing). I'm honestly not sure what to think about them. At least Valan Luca is a little bit funny. Unlikely as it may seem, it is Elayne who fits right in, and Nynaeve who will have to earn her place.

    Other. Maybe you've noticed or heard, but the Perrin storyline is completely absent from this book.

    Bela is a cool one. She's the target for most of the looney theories, the most entertaining of which is that she's the Creator (on account of being the only character present in all the books without any dialogue or prophecies, and which has never been suspected of being a darkfriend, murderer, Black Ajah, forsaken in disguise, or a wool-headed idiot who needs his or her ears boxed.)

    1. Ah, I didn't even realize about Perrin. I know one of the later books--8, I think?--famously left out Mat and fans were not happy, but I totally forgot that Perrin got snubbed here.

      I am one of few fans who actually likes the bit about the menagerie. I know what you mean about inertia--it doesn't exactly move the story along in epic ways--but I always thought it was entertaining.

      I love Bela, but I've never heard the theory of her being the creator. That's hysterical. I guess EVERYONE needs the bumper stickers that says "I brake for Bela." As in, you'd BETTER brake for Bela! :D

    2. Haha! I love that pic of Siuan. Looks like she is tasked with some laundry or darning of socks, or both.

      No Perrin? At all!?! What will I be fantasizing about this entire book? Sigh.... I refuse to fantasize about Rand because he already has more women than he knows what do with. Mat's out because I just can't take him seriously in that silly hat. Sigh... perhaps that just leaves Jullin.

      I LOVE the Bella theory. I am totally going to go with that from now on.

    3. Welcome, Elvind! :)

      3. I find it hard to picture Siuan as cute - there is something about her character that makes me think that she kills people who call her "cute"!

      It's a shame that Perrin won't make an appearance in this book: I suppose he is have a nice long 'rest' after his wedding and becoming the savior of the Two Rivers! :D

      Bella is SO the creator: it all makes sense now!

  2. I agree that Nynaeve and Elayne need to be more careful. (This is why Lan didn't want them to go to Tanchico by themselves!) I think this was Nynaeve very much wanting to act like a cool Aes Sedai and make use of the eyes-and-ears. She just wasn't taking more dangerous things into account. Hopefully this will teach her. I think it's interesting that you mention that Egwene is growing up but still not taken very seriously by other Aes Sedai. That will end up playing into the story in an interesting way. :D And yes, Bela is awesome. There are whole fan bases dedicated to this shaggy mare (I brake for Bela bumper stickers and such.) I once saw a pole to determine who everyone's favorite WoT character is. Bela got as many votes as Nynaeve. (So sad!) :D

    1. I agree with you: I got the impression that Nynaeve was so caught up in her 'secret' knowledge that she never considered the possibility of danger.

      Wow, some people really don't like Nynaeve, do they? :D

  3. Nynaeve needs to have the mental break through of remembering the name for Salidar so that she regains some respect from Elayne and Egwene. So, I expect that it will happen one way or another, because the Wheel wills it of course.

    I think a romantic interest between Bryne and Siuan will at first make Siuan's life a bit more complicated, but could eventually lead to a life beyond the immediate emergency. A stilled woman with no great cause would most likely die of despair.

    Poor Nynaeve has had a few knocks to her ego lately, but I think they were needed. Elayne offering to play the servant at the next inn just to get Nynaeve to stop sulking, and then Egwene giving her a rather rough lesson in the dangers of dream walking. I hope Nynaeve rallies and puts aside her ego to become a better character instead of so bullheaded.

    Ha! I also laughed when Siuan showed so much concern over Bella and where she might place her teeth. I don't expect Bella would bite anyone without good cause.

    1. It wil be interesting to see how the Bryne-Siuan romance plays out - I am not sure that she will have time for such frivolity, but perhaps she will succumb to her raging hormones now that she has been stilled.


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