Sunday, September 29, 2013

The Fires of Heaven by Robert Jordan: Week 8

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 Dab of Darkness

This week we read through to the end of Chapter 49.

1. Seems like Mat has made himself the unwilling hero of the day, now with his personal army. What's in the future for him? Will he ever come to terms with his fate?

I can only assume that he will become an important General in Rand’s ever-increasing army. As more nations join the Dragon in his fight against the Dark One, it will be important to have someone with a great deal of military experience to offer advice, and Mat seems to be fulfilling that role. Also, it will be useful to have someone that Rand can trust completely and who is not seen as belonging to any of the various nations. Rand would cause all kinds of problems if he raised a member of one nation above the others, so Mat gives him a good way around that issue as well.

At the moment it does not look like Mat is happy to accept his fate, but that will not prevent it from happening. If I were his friend I would advise him to just make the best of the situation and resign himself to role that the Pattern has selected for him. However, I am not sure that Mat will ever be happy about the responsibility that he is being forced to accept, but if Han Solo can become all respectable and dependable then I am sure that Mat can do it a well.

2. Three books later, and we're back in Cairhien. How did Rand handle the nobles? Who do you think he means to put on the Sun Throne?

Although I applaud Rand for treating the Tairens with quite a bit of contempt, I am not sure that it is such a great idea to give them any excuse to rebel against him. I suppose that they are still terrified of him, and his massive army of Aiel will keep them in check for some time to come, but I worry that they will scheme against him and that he will eventually have rebellion and obstructive behavior to deal with. However, I am not sure that they understand any other form of leadership.

As for the Cairhienin, they seem to be genuinely won over by this slight against the unwanted Tairen presence in their city. I can understand why they would be worried that he intended to keep them subservient to those sent to offer them ‘aid’, so his announcements would reassure them that Cairhien would return to being an independent state. This alone should win him plenty of support amongst them for the short term.

I have a sneaking suspicion that he intends to place Elayne upon the Sun Throne. I am not quite sure where that idea comes from. Perhaps there was some mention of Morgase being a possible contender for it earlier in the series. As with Mat above, Elayne would be someone that Rand could trust implicitly and, as a non-Cairhienin, she would not divide the nation as would surely happen if he selected one noble over another.   

3. With two nations and the Aiel behind him, Rand should be more than a match for anyone. Who is next?

I expect that he is headed to Caemlyn next. We know that Morgase has ‘vanished’ and I am sure that this has become common knowledge by now. It makes perfect sense that Rand wants to either return Morgase to the Lion Throne or hold it for Elayne. Either way, he will need to deal with ‘Lord Gaebril’ and remove him from power. I can see this being a personal priority for Rand, because of Elayne, but it also makes good strategic sense because Andor adjoins Cairhien.

After that, I am not sure. I doubt that he will need to subdue the Borderlands as they are likely to rally to his banner anyway. We know that Faile’s father is wandering about somewhere with an army from Saldaea, so we may encounter him sooner rather than later, although I suspect that he is riding to The Two Rivers and will actually join with Perrin’s forces. This would mean that Rand would hold everything directly to the west of The Spine of the World, apart from Tar Valon. This would be a relatively strong position for advancing into Illian, Murandy, Altara and further west.

4. This moodiness and snapping from Elayne and Nynaeve, is it from the pressure of hiding or something else? Maybe some of the female audience can chime in…

To me they sound like sisters bickering, or perhaps I should say that they sound like my sister and me when we had to live together and were constantly arguing. Now that we live apart we get on very well and never argue at all, but all that enforced proximity can get very wearing. This is especially true once you get to know each other very well, because you start to be aware of those annoying little habits that the other person has and begin to anticipate them, so that when they happen it is even more infuriating. In short, I think they have got to know each other so well that they are no longer on their best behavior and allow themselves to get angry with each other. That is all the feminine wisdom I can offer!

Obviously, I cannot comment on how men cope when they are cooped up together for prolonged periods . . . but if my husband is anything to go by, it involves copious amounts of farting and lots of toilet humor . . .

5. Looks like Nynaeve sparked quite the mess by having both Galad and Masema look for a boat. Was this at all avoidable?

I guess it could have been avoided if Nynaeve had not spoken to both men, but I can understand why she asked Masema for help as he is in a position of power. The addition of Galad’s ‘good intentions’ was the real problem: he was completely oblivious to all the pain and suffering that he had caused by his actions. I can now see why Elayne and Gawyn are so critical of him. How many people were killed, injured, made homeless, etc. because of his refusal to act quietly and without stirring up trouble? It appeared that Masema had forgotten all about his promise, but I am quite sure that Thom, Juilin, Uno and the gang could have ‘persuaded’ the captain to take them along for a nice boat trip.

6. Who do you think could take Galad on in a swordfight?

Not many people, to be honest. Probably Lan, who seems to be the best swordsman that we have seen and is a bonded Warder as well, which might help. Other than that, I would have to guess that Rand could possibly match him in skill with a sword, but might not win in a straight fight with no channeling involved. Mat and Perrin might best him if they could fight with their chosen weapons, as could some of the Aiel, such as Rhuarc, if they could bring themselves to fight a swordsman. Oh, and I bet Loial could give a good thumping with his staff, but he would not want to do it and would keep apologizing all the time! :)


  1. Good call on your Elayne guess. :D I agree with the sisters idea as well. I currently live with two of my sisters, and we actually get along well day to day, but when that time of the month comes around, we definitely get snippy. :D I put Lan too, for #6. I didn't think of Loial because he doesn't sword fight, but I think including him is a good fight. Most swordsmen--even the best--don't stand a chance against a pissed off Ogier. That's why wise men, like Lan, are respectful and friendly to them. :D

    1. Yes, PMS can turn any normal woman into a screaming ball of hate, and I guess they should be synchronized by now . . . :D

      As for Loial, I think there are very few who could beat Galad if they were also fighting with a sword, but there are plenty of people who don't fight in that way . . . perhaps he will come up against a few in the future and get a good pummeling, because I think it might do him some good. Of course, he is Rand's half-brother, if I am right about his mother being Tigraine, so it should be no surprise that they are both good with a sword.

  2. Good call on the possibility of rebels, and also on Elayne. She is the daughter of a Cairhienin king's nephew (Taringail), so that's where her claim comes from.

    If my stint in the military is anything to go by, I can probably confirm the toilet humor.

    1. We all know that humans are very good at being selfish and working against their own best interests in real life, and Randworld is no different. We have already seen Elaida weaken the side of Light immeasurably by her decision to overthrow Siuan, so I would expect other people to be just as stupid and short-isghted for a wide variety of reasons.

      I always imagine that scene from Blazing Saddles with the beans . . . :D

  3. That's a good point about Mat not belonging to this nation or that nation, so Rand can safely raise him to the level of War Adviser and not piss off too many people. Love the Han Solo reference.

    If Rand puts Elayne on the Sun Throne and he knows/learns that Morgase is missing, then Andor sounds like his next stop. Should be interesting to find out.

    While the mess between Masema and the White Cloaks might not have been avoidable, Galad sure doesn't seem to be loosing sleep over the fact he had a hand int he riots, fighting, killing, etc. That is disturbing.

    Ah, yes! Why didn't I think of Loial?

    1. Thanks - you can't beat a good Star Wars reference! :D

      Galad rubs me up the wrong way all the time - he is just so insensitive and self-righteous that I want to give him a good slapping . . . perhaps Nynaeve will do that for me at some point?


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