Sunday, December 15, 2013

Lord of Chaos 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 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 51.

This was a week of stunning events in Randworld: events that left me rather shocked, so read on at your peril . . .

1. So the meeting that we have all been waiting for took place and Perrin met his in-laws. Perrin found the whole thing rather confusing, and I have to say that I agree with him: either Saldaeans are all crazy or it is just this particular family. What did you think of the encounters and do you think he will succeed in ruling his wife in a suitable fashion from now on?

I found Bashere himself to be much more understandable than his wife, who just seemed plain crazy to me. However, her behavior did fit with what we have seen from Faile, so I suppose that I shouldn’t have been surprised. The Saldaeans obviously have a very pugnacious attitude in general, and it would seem that they value strength and fierceness, even in their women. I cannot begin to really understand how they go about mating . . . I guess that they are like porcupines and do it very, very carefully! :D

I felt very sorry for Perrin in all of this, because Faile is very likely to become more like her mother as she gets older. I suspect that he will never truly understand how she thinks, and I find it hard to believe that he will ever work out how to subdue her. Of course, her fiery temperament could be part of her appeal, but he does seem to spend an awful lot of his time being miserable because she is mean to him. I cannot help thinking that this is not the best foundation to a successful marriage, but I will be happy to be proved wrong.

2. Aiel attacking Aes Sedai: what is the world coming to? Any guesses as to who instigated the attack on Demira and why they let her survive?

This surprised me quite a bit, as we know that the Aiel are, in general, very respectful of Aes Sedai. However, this does make me question whether or not the attackers were Aiel at all. I believe that they are described as having dark eyes, which seems very unlikely for Aiel, plus they refer to Rand as the Dragon Reborn rather than his Aiel title of Car’a’carn. This suggests to me that they are not actually Aiel, but that someone wants to stir up as much trouble for Rand as they can, because if the Aes Sedai report what happened to him he will be suspicious of his Aiel followers.

That simply leaves us with deciding who put together this plan to spread chaos. I doubt that it is the Shaido, as they would never allow wetlanders to dress as Aiel. I also doubt that it is the Tower Aes Sedai, mainly because they are Cairhien, but also because I cannot see them organizing an attack on one of their sisters, even if she is a rebel in their eyes. That leaves us with one of the Forsaken, who would definitely benefit from Rand being alienated from the rebels and/or the Aiel. My other thought is Padan Fain, who we know is in the area and just loves to create mayhem. No matter who set this in motion, I am not sure that it has had the intended result.

3. Ebou Dar is certainly proving to be interesting. Any suggestions as to why Nynaeve is so upset with Mat? Also, what were your impressions of Tylin?

I have been wracking my brain trying to remember what Mat has done to deserve this treatment and I simply cannot think of anything. Perhaps she is feeling guilty about kicking him in the backside, but that does not seem a good enough reason for her behavior.

I have to admit that I was pleasantly surprised by Tylin and her no-nonsense attitude because it makes such a pleasant change from all the political maneuvering that we have seen in the other noble courts. In some ways she reminds me a little of Berelain in that she is a very competent ruler in her own right and I can only imagine what she was like when she was on the hunt for a husband. However, her supposed honesty could just be a different ploy to get cooperation and information from our girls, so I would not say that I trust her so far.

4. Yay, Loial is back and being all nervous and cute about Erith trying to track him down! No need to ask if you are happy to see him, but do you think he will abandon his friends and spend the rest of the War in a Stedding if she catches up with him?

I cannot imagine Loial refusing to do what Erith says because he is so traditional and obviously in love with her. However, I cannot believe that he will simply pack up his books and turn away from the Last Battle. In this way he reminds me very much of Tolkien’s Ents: he is very slow to anger, but a terrible enemy when roused. I believe that he has seen more than enough of how the world is threatened by the Dark One and realizes that hiding in the Stedding will not help the Ogier to avoid destruction. I am quite sure that he thinks that the Ogier have a responsibility to do what they can to help in the Last Battle and he will do everything in his power to persuade them to join in the fight. I doubt that Erith and his mother will approve of this, but we might find that their time in the world of man has opened their eyes to how the world is changing so that they actually agree with him.

5. On a scale of one to eleven, how stupid was Demira’s attempt to chastise the Dragon Reborn by making herself look big and shouting at him? Also, what do you think of Kiruna’s great plans to bring him to heel?

Just when I think that Aes Sedai are starting to behave with some intelligence they go and do something incredibly dumb like this. Good grief!

I know that this kind of thing would normally have a king or queen wetting themselves in terror, but how can they not understand that Rand is NOT normal? I was surprised that he did not simply laugh himself silly at them, because it was such a painfully stupid display of temper. They did not even notice that he was totally confused by their anger and did not question whether or not they had made a mistake about who sent the ‘Aiel’ attackers. Nope, they just sailed ahead on a wave of self-righteous anger and stamped their little feet at him. They were lucky that he did not balefire the lot of them into non-existence.

I was very pleased that this convinced at least Merana that Rand could not be handled in the same way as ordinary rulers. However, I could not believe that the other sisters that had accompanied Demira to the palace were so unwilling to change their attitude. I particularly liked Alanna’s reaction to Kiruna’s criticism of how she had not ‘tamed’ Rand. I presume that actually meeting Rand will change Kiruna’s low opinion of Alanna’s poor performance.

6. Berelain seems to be trying to give Faile a very good reason to stab her to death, but poor Perrin is getting all the blame, of course. Any idea what Berelain is doing and how Perrin is going to repair his marriage? Do you think Faile is handling this in a sensible and mature way?

We know that Min has seen Berelain in love with a man in white, which is hardly a fitting description for Perrin, so I cannot believe that she is in love with the poor man. I can only assume that she is having terrific fun playing with the couple and enjoys seeing them both fight. Although I find this morally unacceptable, I do not see how Perrin can make her stop because she is getting the result that she wants and will continue until they no longer amuse her. Personally, I would quite like to see Rhuarc give Berelain a good slapping for her behavior, but I doubt that he will intervene.

Unfortunately, even though Berelain is behaving very badly in this situation, I do not believe that Faile is doing any better. One way she could combat this persecution would be to show Berelain that she is not jealous, but that seems to be thoroughly beyond her. It is one aspect of Faile’s character that I find very irritating because it shows how spoilt and petty she is. The fact that she holds Perrin responsible is even more unforgiveable: marriage is about showing a united front to crazies like Berelain and showing the world that the relationship is secure. We have seen that jealousy is her default setting whenever any woman even looks at Perrin and she will need to learn to trust him and behave like a responsible adult.

7. Holy boxes of Dragon Reborn, Batman! They actually went ahead and took Rand! I think we all knew that the Tower envoy might try something like this, but were you surprised by how well it worked? Any ideas on what has happened to Min?

I thought it was a neat ploy to have the Aes Sedai in Caemlyn accidentally number thirteen and make Rand run off to Cairhien. It made both us and Rand feel like the danger had passed so that we could relax a little. However, I was very nervous when it became apparent that more than thirteen women had entered the room and I wanted to slap Rand when he did not immediately suspect a trap. This was a classic case of complacency and I fear that he is going to pay a heavy price for that failure. Once they had got past that initial hurdle and made it into the room I had little doubt that they would succeed. I thought the ploy with the box was very neat and we finally found out why they had been doing all that channeling. It was a well-crafted plan and deserved to work as well as it did.

I assume that Min was kidnapped by some of the Sisters’ Warders or other agents. They have probably been told how much time she spends with Rand and so they see her as a useful hostage. I assume that intend to threaten Min to insure his cooperation and good behavior. I just hope that she does not get too beaten up. 

8. Now that Rand has been captured, what do you expect to happen? Will someone eventually work out that he is missing? Will Loial Hulk-out and tear all the Aes Sedai’s heads off? Arghhhhhhh!!!!!!!

I suppose the real problem now is how long it will be before someone finally realizes that Rand is actually missing. However, if the Aes Sedai up sticks and leave, I would hope that someone would question why they have decided to leave at the same time that Rand and Min go missing. I imagine it will be Sulin that raises the alarm because she cannot fulfill her toh if Rand has left her behind.

Once they finally wake up to the reality of the abduction I assume that we will see a large contingent of Aiel move to free their Car’a’carn, including many Wise Ones who can channel. I suspect that normal forces will also be deployed, such as Cairhienin and men from Mayene and the Two Rivers. I would also expect the Salidar contingent that contains Alanna to play a significant role, as they will be able to track Rand and Alanna will know if he is being beaten or hurt. I have no doubt at all that Perrin and Loial will be desperate to rescue their friend and I pity any of the Tower forces that trust to Loial’s peaceful nature. Of course, the Shaido’s actions will play a huge part in deciding the outcome of any attack: if they try to seize Rand for themselves, as Sevanna has said, then the in-fighting will work to Rand’s advantage. One group that I am not sure about is the asha’man: Taim may choose to save Rand or not, but I cannot predict which way he will jump.

Argh! I can’t wait to read to the end of the book, but I expect that we will not get a happy ending that soon . . .


  1. 1. I think they're all crazy. My theory is that Saldaeans have a peculiar notion of marriage that involves a strong and unbendable cliff of a man and a woman who can test her boundaries but is ultimately put in place by the former, or something along those lines. Presumably they were looking for Perrin to demonstrate that he had the necessary umpf, which he managed to do just fine but the greater concept flew over his head (understandably).

    2. There was some mention of sunken and fearful-looking eyes, so I'm pretty sure these were Fain's faithful hounds dressed up as Aiel. The idea was clearly to drive a wedge between the embassy and Rand, and the plan succeeded admirably, with all kinds of disastrous consequences. They let her survive because for the plan to work, the Aes Sedai had to know for sure that the attackers were Aiel.

    3. If I'm going to guess, I'd say that Nynaeve is embarassed for kicking Mat in the ass earlier on. She was chastised by Egwene and she's a bit befuddled by the fact that she used to be the mentor but now she's the one acting like a child. So she stays away from him to keep herself from doing something like that again, I think. Whatever her reasons it looks quite hostile from Mat's point of view. And don't even get me started on Elayne and the older Aes Sedai… My lord…

    Tylin, ehhm… I'll just say she seems okay for now and then maybe we can readjust our views later.

    4. Nah, Loial is… well, it's in the name y'know. I expect him to be there to the end.

    5. Well, pretty high up, although I think Merana ought to take part of the blame for letting the person who was wronged lead the “punishment.” If she's such an experienced negotiator and Gray Ajah member I think that showed spectacular lack of foresight. At this point I think the best thing that can be said about the Salidar embassy situation is that at least they haven't actually kidnapped Rand…

    1. 6. Ok, back to Perrin. So I think Faile's problem isn't so much Berelain herself. She could deal with her quite well on her own, I think, and I don't think she's actually worried that Perrin would run off with her. Her problem is more that she wants Perrin to deal with the situation by showing some of that UMPF instead of skirting around the issue and trying to hide. By doing that he's letting Berelain run the show, and Faile wants Perrin to be the big guy in the palace (or at least, the second biggest guy).

      But it's more complicated than that, too. Since being strong with women is considered as a romantic gesture in Saldaea, Perrin is also going about it wrong by trying to apologise to his wife. Indeed, as he says to himself, he really has done nothing wrong. Faile knows this very well, so when he apologises anyway, that shows weakness… and so on and so forth…

      Sadly this is exactly the kind of thing a lot of fans hate about Faile.

      7. Well, Rand's isolationist behaviour finally worked against him here. He has ignored embassies before, so he handed them the perfect excuse. He has slipped off unexpectedly before. Etc. Etc. And much good it did us to learn why the Aes Sedai have been channeling day and night… so that they can keep a shield up without anyone asking questions! Why they brought such gifts the first time: to establish precedence for getting a chest in there, and have an excuse for slipping in a handful extra hidden Aes Sedai. They've clearly been planning this move from day one, and for once in this story an Aes Sedai plan went smoothly.

      8. Yeah, this question kind of echoes how I felt when I came here the first time. What's worse, the next chapter is Ebou Dar! WHY ROBERT JORDAN ARE YOU DOING THIS TO ME? I was so upset I started speed-reading from here on out. Hopefully I can take it slower this time. :D

      The rage you're feeling right now is part of what makes the ending the classic it is. I see it mentioned time and again in lists of “favourite fantasy scene” and “best ending to a fantasy book ever” and so on… So all I can say is, please enjoy it and take your time (it is QUITE the page turner), and hopefully I can do it justice with the questions next week.

      Other: You might have missed it (except Liesel), but there were a couple of subtle foreshadowings this week which I had missed before. Makes re-reading fun :). Next week we'll also get a not-so-subtle hint to the identity of a certain someone. Keep your eyes peeled for that one!

      By the way, I might send out questions early since there's a lot of christmasy stuff going on next week.

    2. 1. I think you might be right, but I find it difficult to get my head around it - I just feel sorry for Perrin!

      2. I missed that bit of the description, but it was just such an un-Aiel thing to do that you would have to be very ignorant of Aiel ways to fall for it.

      5. Too true: we keep hearing that Merana is this uber negotiator, but I am not impressed so far.

      6. Interesting - I hadn't thought of it that way, but you make a lot of sense. I guess my mistake is expiating Faile to react like a reasonable person, which she isn't! :D

      7. I was really impressed by their plan, especially as we have seen Aes Sedai becoming less and less impressive of late.

      8. I have decided to not read further until I have read everyone's comments this week, but I imagine that I will rip through it pretty quickly.

      An identity is revealed . . . that could be one of so many! Argh!

    3. Oh yes, I was frustrated and angry for Mat with the Aes Sedai (Elayne!) demanding he simply hand over his medallion each night. WTF? And then those two older Aes Sedai keep channeling at him to see what gets a reaction. The Aes Sedai are acting like horses' asses all around!

      Definitely looking forward to the ending to this book! Come on Team Rand!

    4. Horses asses is a bit of an understatement! :D

  2. “I can only imagine what she was like when she was on the hunt for a husband”

    I'm sorry but I had to laugh at this. You seem to be implying that she is no longer on the hunt for a husband. :D (Well ok, I guess she's not out to get married, but she's actually quite the cougar.)

    “However, I was very nervous when it became apparent that more than thirteen women had entered the room and I wanted to slap Rand when he did not immediately suspect a trap.”

    Recall that more than 13 entered the last time too. That time he went around checking the “servants” for ageless faces and found none. Egwene was there that time and I assume she would have noticed if someone extra had been able to channel, so I guess that time they really did bring nobodies. I assume they couldn't have known that Egwene was gone, so they were lucky she wasn't there. Though… it might have worked anyway I guess.

    1. Tylin is a cougar? That makes sense . . . does this mean Mat is in bodily danger?? :D

      OK, smarty pants, I forgot that bit :P

  3. I totally agree with you about Loial--love him!--and Tylin as well, though unfortunately, for me, it all goes downhill for her character from here on out. And yes, as Eivind says, you'll probably be freaking out through the whole final section. It's fabulous, and also makes you want to tear your hair out. :D

    1. I was rather surprised that Tylin was so reasonable, so I was already a little wary of her and wanting the girls to be much more careful.

  4. I too liked that Tylin seems pretty straight forward and that is a nice change from all the double talk and 'necessary favors' other courtiers and rulers require.

    I keep shaking my head at the Aes Sedai, especially when they deal with Rand. True, he is a brand new thing that the Aes Sedai have never dealt with before, but some, no, most of these ladies don't seem to learn from meeting to meeting. And, yes, why don't they question whether or not Rand sent the 'Aiel'?

    'marriage is about showing a united front to crazies' LOL! I love this line and plan to use it the next time someone asks me about marriage.


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