Sunday, February 23, 2014

The Path of Daggers by Robert Jordan: Week 1

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 4

1) The major players of the Borderlands all have a pow-wow at the start of the prologue. Other than the obvious, stated goal of finding Rand, what do you think they're up to?

If they were simply going to swear fealty, then I do not understand all this need for secrecy and a blood pact. It seems that it could be something that gets them all killed, so I have to worry about what they will do once they find Rand. Perhaps they need him to undergo some sort of rite of passage before they will acknowledge him as the Dragon Reborn and follow him.

On a side note: it is interesting to note that Tenobia seems as crazy as her cousin Faile! I do like the way that the different societies create people with wildly differing mindsets. This does not mean that I can understand all of their attitudes, but I can certainly appreciate the world building.

2) What do you make of Verin's covert work? What is her endgame?

Again, I am really unclear about what she is doing. We see her applying the Compulsion to the Sisters captured at Dumai’s Wells. This suggests that she is trying to make them more open to accepting Rand as the Dragon Reborn and also to letting him remain free to wield his influence on the world. I can understand why she feels the need to do this: we can safely assume that Elaida chose Sisters who were most adamant that he needed to be taken and held prisoner to be used as the Tower saw fit in the Last Battle. We have already seen that he is needed to unite the nations, and I doubt that he could do that stuck in Tar Valon in a prison cell.

However, I feel as if there is something not quite right about what Verin is doing. We know that Sisters are not supposed to harm one another, and Verin’s own thoughts about how Compulsion is beaten out of Novices in the White Tower show that it is not an acceptable thing to do to another Aes Sedai. This makes me wonder if it actually goes against the Three Oaths in some way, or is just against the Tower’s rules. So far, Verin has shown that she can lie, which makes me very suspicious that she is Black Ajah, and yet she always seems to be working in Rand’s best interest, which seems completely at odds with that deduction. 

3) We get yet another jaunt in Moridin's twisted head. What do you make of him at this point? Does he have things as well in hand as he seems to believe?

He seems to be a few sandwiches short of a picnic, although that does not really make him stand out amongst the Forsaken. We know that he has been raised above the others by being given access to the True Power, but I am not sure that he is any more likely to succeed. To be quite honest, the Dark One seems to be truly awful at selecting his lieutenants: they are all massively overconfident and narcissistic. I always find it funny that they look down on each other and are critical of others’ faults . . . which are the very ones that they share. This makes them seem very human and not at all invincible, but makes me wonder about how the Dark One expects to win! :D

4) Aviendha picked a weave apart. Do you think we'll see this in the story again? In what capacity? Do you think Moridin will find them before they use the Bowl? How about the gholam?

I always enjoy reading Aviendha’s point of view, because she is so alien in the way she thinks.

If the other Aes Sedai have anything to say about it, I assume that Aviendha will be discouraged from doing this too often: I thought that Merilille was going to have kittens when she saw what our favorite grumpy Aiel was doing. However, as Aviendha says, this is the only way to stop other channelers following them by reading the fading weaves, so I can see how it might be something they need to do again. The close proximity of the invading Seanchan army might provide a very good reason to want to escape through a Gateway that nobody can follow.

As I said above, Moridin shares the overconfidence that seems to characterize the Forsaken, although he is seeing evidence of the resourcefulness of the modern channelers and the development of skills and Talents that were unknown in the Golden Age. Surely, he must see that he needs to respect these people, rather than just despising them as inferior? Unlike the gholam, he has no way of directly finding the women, so I suspect that they will use the bowl before he can interfere. As for the gholam: I sincerely hope that he does not follow the women because they have no way to protect themselves from him.

5) Elayne discovers many objects of the One Power from the stash brought out of the Rahad. Any guesses as to what might be their intended uses?

We know that the shape of the object usually bears little relationship to its function, so it is very difficult to make any guesses. We know what the angreals can be used for, but with the ter’angreals it could be anything. The jewelry set could produce a field around the wearer that projects a false image, or a shield of protection . . . but equally it could be used to make potatoes cook perfectly.

One thing that did worry me was that some of the objects could have been aligned to men and Elayne might not have been able to detect them and was discarding them in a pile of rubbish in the middle of nowhere.

6) We finally learn the details of Nynaeve and Elayne's bargain with the Seafolk--Aes Sedai required to teach Windfinders and even live among them for a period of time, among other things. Will this bargain work out? Will our girls be in big trouble for making it? Do you see all these different groups and cultures of women ever being able to get along?

For goodness sake! The way they were moaning about this deal, I had expected that they would each be required to hand over their first born child or something massively important. So, the Aes Sedai have to send ten Sisters to teach the Windfinders: shock, horror! If the Bowl does what we expect, this seems like a pretty fair bargain to me. Plus, it is likely that the Windfinders will do plenty of teaching in return, so it is a win-win situation.

I really think that it is about time that the Aes Sedai pulled their heads out of the sand and realized that they need any and all allies to have any hope of surviving the Last Battle. The Aiel Wise Ones, the Kin and the Windfinders all have skills that the Aes Sedai do not: some exchange of information would seem to be a very good idea. However, they are so stuck in the past and prejudiced against any women who have not attained the ring, that I can foresee a huge amount of friction as this deal moves forward.

7) Sounds like they're about to use the Bowl of Winds. Predictions as to what will happen when they do?

I sincerely hope that they manage to break the eternal summer, because I am getting rather tired of hearing all about everyone sweating all the time! :D

On a slightly more serious note: we are constantly told about the devastation that this heat has caused and I do worry that the environment is close to reaching the point of no return. We have seen a lot of dead and dying plants, and that could only continue for so long before starvation would effectively remove all opposition to the Dark One. Of course, then he would be King of an empty world, but I doubt that he would be too worried about that.

The breaking of the unnatural weather will surely make many more people accept the truth of Rand’s identity, because nobody can possibly believe that the present situation is natural. It will also undermine Elaida in a huge way (oh dear, what a shame!) because the White Tower will be clearly shown to have had nothing to do with it. I predict much ranting from the Amyrlin! :D


  1. Yes, Tenobia is about as crazy as Faile is, which makes her fun to read about. :D Verin is one to keep an eye on for sure. And Moridin is definitely a few chips short of a taco salad. I love Aviendha's POV too because she has such a unique voice. Here's to hoping the days of sweating through your clothes in Randland are about to come to an end. :D

    1. It makes me feel dirty every time I read about them all sweating . . . plus they must all smell terrible! :D

  2. Hi! I've been stalking the WoT read alongs for quite a while and I'm finally now caught up to where you are in PoD!
    I was just wondering when has Verin lied? I'm sure she has, she seems shady to me too, but I just don't remember specifically when it was mentioned. Do you remember?

    1. When she joins Rand and Mat on their search for the Horn in Book 2 she says that Moiraine sent her - which is a total lie. There may be others that are less obvious, but that is the one that sticks in my mind.


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