Sunday, March 2, 2014

The Path of Daggers by Robert Jordan: Week 2

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 9

1. The Super Girls finally got to use the Bowl of the Winds. The power needed and the weaving involved were both certainly impressive, but were you a little underwhelmed by the immediate lack of results?

At first, I was a rather disappointed: we went through all that pain and suffering to get the Bowl and they use it and then . . . nothing seems to happen! I admit that the build up to it added to my sense of expectation, as did the mental image I had built of the strands of weaving spreading out across the sky. Then they all collapsed exhausted and we had no indication that it had even worked at all. Talk about anti-climax! :D

But then when I had recovered from my shock, I realized that the grumpy Windfinder was quite right: altering the weather is a mammoth task and a small nudge in the right place will have huge effects eventually. We see this with our own climate and how the El Nino effect off the west coast of South America has implications for the weather around the globe. Whilst I admit that a little bit of snow would have been nice, this result of using the Bowl seems much more realistic, if a bit dull.

One thing that did worry me was the obvious use of saidin during the weaving. Although nothing disastrous happened, it did make me wonder if the Bowl was meant to be used by a mixed group of Channelers.

2. The different groups of channelers can certainly work together when faced with the Seanchan. However, do you think that Elayne and Nynaeve have any hope of keeping them together as they travel to Caemlyn, and will Egwene be anymore successful?

The phrase “herding cats” came to mind frequently during the section leading up to the Seanchan arrival and I was quite sure that Nynaeve would either have a flakey meltdown or pull her braid out of her scalp. For all that Mr Jordan keeps playing the “men and women are different” card, I have to say that I find the female channelers the most frustrating. All that bickering about the Bowl made me want to give them all a good slapping: if only they could put their egos aside and work together for the common good!

However, I am pretty certain that the Seanchan have scared the snot out of all of them, which will make them easier to control. I seriously hope that Elayne and Nynaeve give them all a lecture on the realities of what will happen if they are captured and made damane: that should remove any further opposition to working together for their own safety. I did feel sorry for the Windfinders, who had to abandon their ships, but there was no way that they could have survived long enough to reach Ebou Dar, let alone find their ships.

I do wonder how Egwene is going to cope when this motley crew wanders into the Rebel camp, but she seems to have developed a knack for imposing her authority, so perhaps she will be more successful than Elayne and Nynaeve. Of course, they need to reach Egwene safe and sound, which might not be so easy, especially as Elayne may become entangled in taking the Lion Throne and ruling Andor. I just hope that Dyelin is as good as her word and steps aside when Elayne rides into Caemlyn.

3. Holy Exploding Weaves, Batman! Last week we saw Merilille’s terror as Aviendha unpicked her weaving, so were you surprised by how much damage Elayne caused? Do you expect the Seanchan to accept the Chulein’s assessment that it was a weapon of some sort?

It is not often that we see an Aes Sedai turn into a quivering mess, but I think we came close last week. That meant that we would see one of two things: either a small puff of light and absolutely no danger or the Armageddon-sized explosion that actually occurred. Even so, I was amazed at how much danger the Super Girls were placed in. The image of the injured Birgitte and Aviendha standing together to fight off the attacking Seanchan so that Elayne could frantically work on her weaving was very dramatic. For a moment there, I thought that they might not all survive the attack.

I assume that the collapse will mean that nobody can read the residual weaving to understand what caused the explosion. I would also expect the Seanchan to be very wary of sending anyone, especially one of their valuable damane, into the area to investigate. This would be a win-win situation for everyone apart from the two horses and the ladies’ clothing. However, we know that Suroth is not the most considerate of leaders, so she may risk a great deal to try to understand what occurred. I hope that they do not work out what actually happened, as I think they have enough deadly weapons in their arsenal at the moment and do not need anymore.

4. The channelers with Perrin saw the weaving from the Bowl and it appears to have had a lasting effect over a huge area. Do you think that Perrin is really hearing thunder and is it actually starting to get cooler as he and the others mention a few times?

This was a nice way for Mr Jordan to tell us that the girls had succeeded in having some effect when they used the Bowl. I am not sure how far Perrin is from the Farm, but it must be quite some distance, so that encourages me to think that the weaving affected a rather large area. I loved the idea that the Channelers could see something similar to a ‘snow’ of power particles drifting downwards from the sky: so cool!

I believe Perrin mentions the thunder being from the West, which would certainly not place it between his group and the Farm, which is almost due South of Ghealdan. I would expect any consequences of the weaving to be most obvious around the Farm and then get less noticeable as you move further away. I suppose it could be due to storms rising in the Mountains of Mist, which are to the West, but I worry that it is the Seanchan. However, I think the constant references to people feeling cool is a definite effect, so perhaps it is just thunder.  

5. A certain group of travellers is not quite what they seem. Were you surprised that Morgase did not reveal her identity to Perrin? Do you think that she will give the game away when Perrin tries to marry her to Tallanvor?

I think that the Whitecloaks drove any last remaining ounces of trust out of Morgase. She knows that she can trust her little group and that is as far as she is going to go at the moment. Of course, we know that she should trust Perrin, but I can understand why she is so reluctant to do so. Her last two choices to trust powerful men have ended in disaster, and Perrin is the envoy of a man who is conquering nations across the map. I doubt that his flags helped to persuade her that he would be on her side and I can see how she might distrust Rand’s intention to restore the Lion Throne to House Trakand. Anyway, it gives a chance to see her grinding her teeth as she acts as Faile’s maid. It should be entertaining!

I was so sure that Perrin recognizing Master Gill, and thinking that Morgase looked like Elayne, might clue him in to what was really going on, but no. I was quite surprised that Faile did not guess when Morgase started ranting about Rand putting Elayne on the Throne. Later, when Faile was laughing after Morgase left, I was quite sure that it was because she had seen through the Queen’s disguise and was enjoying making a highborn lady suffer a little. on the whole, I am amazed that neither of them have seriously questioned the preposterous story that Master Gill and Lini related, but I suppose that they have more important things to worry about.

I am looking forward to the scene when someone tries to marry Morgase to Tallanvor: just how many shades of red will she turn? I am pretty sure that she will try to wriggle out of it somehow, although I am equally sure that Faile is correct to think that the two would function more smoothly if they shared some relaxing sexytimes!

6. Oh good, the Faile-Berelain antagonism is still in full flow. What do you think the Cha Faile are doing in Bethal? Will it work with or against Berelain’s attempts to make an alliance with Queen Alliandre?

OK, Mr Jordan: enough already with the Faile-Berelain thing. It is getting really tiresome and has been dragged on for far too long to be even vaguely amusing anymore. I am sure that there is much more to come, but I can live in hopes of this resolving sooner rather than later.

So often through this series I have wished that characters would talk to the people around them: especially the ones that they are supposed to trust. Whilst we know that Perrin is not wildly happy about the Cha Faile, it is only making matters worse to set them tasks behind his back. It is this kind of behavior that makes me very ambivalent about Faile: she claims to trust Perrin and support him, and yet she sneaks around ‘helping’ him without discussion. He might have been more than happy to send he followers into Bethel, but, no, she prefers to do everything covertly. I am quite sure that Perrin will not be happy when he finds out.

As for what they are doing: they seem to have gathered some useful intelligence. Other than that, I am not quite sure what she wants them to do. Perhaps they are simply to stand by in case direct action is needed to rescue Berelain, because I do not think that even Faile is stupid enough to undermine the First’s mission to recruit Alliandre. They may share a personal animosity, but there are much more important things at stake here, and I think that Faile knows that.

7. The Wise Ones have decided that Masema must die and at least one of the Aes Sedai agrees with them. Given that he has followers collecting strings of ears, do you think they are correct and the Prophet is too dangerous to be kept alive?

If Masema was running a civilized organization and actually trying to coordinate with Rand, I might be inclined to cut him some slack. But we have already seen that his newfound power has corrupted him and he lets many of people behave in disgusting ways. However, he does control a large section of land and vast numbers of people, so I would not be surprised if he has been targeted by one of the Forsaken for manipulation. It would probably be fairly easy for one of them to appear as Rand and spout all kinds of horrendous orders. He has not actually seen or spoken to Rand for some considerable time and would seem susceptible to such influence. This would cause a huge amount of damage to Rand and his reputation, much as the Shaido have done.

My biggest concern is that he will see Perrin as an opponent for the favor of the Lord Dragon and seek to gain prestige by removing him. Even if he fails in this attempt and is ultimately killed, he could quite easily continue to be a rallying point to his followers as a martyr. Still, I think that this is a risk that I would be willing to take if I were Perrin.

Edited to correct my senior moment and inability to count the number of weeks correctly! :D


  1. 1. Not really underwhelmed. With all the other things going on I was quite satisfied, and I kind of like the idea that the weather has a certain inertia and is difficult to control directly. You don't want everything to be just easy-peasy after all, and watching the rain and snow build up slowly is quite satisfying after three books of hearing how damn hot it is (four if you count the Waste, although I guess that is naturally hot).

    Also take note of how quickly the Seanchan were able to deploy to the farm, even without Traveling. I wonder if Moridin noticed and decided not to intervene. The bowl used Saidin so I assume he should have been able to notice if he were close enough. I'm comparing this to another event where absurd amounts of channeling is going down, so maybe we can come back to this when that happens.

    2. I mentioned earlier on that Perrin's storyline from about this point is considered pretty monotonous, and I said I had another candidate. Well here we are! Of all the things I've read in this series, Elayne's quest for the throne is absolutely the most dreary. I'm sure I will be allowed to go into details about why on several occasions. I noticed Elayne has already started thinking about baths…

    The groupi— uh sorry, the KIN are unlikely to leave the side of the most heavenly blessed Aes Sedai, so that won't be a problem. The other Aes Sedai I assume Elayne will be able to control, but I'm not 100% sure. Aes Sedai seem naturally drawn to palaces though, and the quest of putting a bona fide sister on the Andoran throne should be enough to keep them around I suppose. The Sea Folk are another thing. Stuck hundreds of distance units away from the sea, not knowing the fate of their buddies in Ebou Dar, I'm sure they'd like to leave. But this bargain with Mat seems to keep them around for now (surprisingly).

    3. Oh yeah, I was surprised. I'm not sure we've seen a deliberate weave that can cause this kind of mayhem? Balefire maybe, but I think you need to be very powerful indeed to do sometihng similar. Unfortunately, or maybe fortunately, it doesn't work reliably.

    With the power of foresight I believe they do accept it. It could give the Seanchan some pause in their plans, but it could also spur them to act while they have the advantage, and while the rest of Randland is (relatively) uncoordinated. I wonder how aware they are of Rand's situation.

    4. Yes, this is the first sign of the weather change. It'll become more and more apparent over the next few weeks. :)

    5. Not surprised at all. Even (or especially) exiled it doesn't seem safe these days to walk around in that area and proclaim yourself the (ex-) Queen of Andor. And even in Perrin's camp… I doubt she recognizes Rand as the legitimate ruler of Caemlyn, and she clearly disapproves of the militarization of the Two Rivers under a Manetheren banner, and I'm sure she's well aware that Perrin is not at all a nobleman. Of course, she would be perfectly safe by Perrin (not sure if I could say the same thing about Faile), but she can't know that and has every reason to believe otherwise.

    6. If I remember correctly, Faile is intending for them to kidnap Alliandre if Berelain should fail. Of course her intentions are probably good but this sounds like a totally unreasonable thing to do without Perrin's knowledge. And I'm not even sure I trust Cha Faile to be up to it, I mean… okay, Ghealdan is small and troubled but it's still a bloody QUEEN.

    7. Sounds good to me. I'm not sure what's the benefit of keeping him alive? Unless his rabble can be transformed into a sensible military force… then it would be good to keep him around since he already commands their loyalty, but from what I've seen I wouldn't trust them to stand against carrots, much less a formation of Trollocs and Myrddraal. And frankly with Masema being as shady as he is, arming and training his followers sounds like madness.

  2. I think RJ said later during a signing that the bowl was not indended to be used for something of this scope, which has caused a few side-effects (we'll see one in not so long). It's definitely possible that it needed a source of saidin to work better.

    Let's just say Faile and Berelain will be resolved later rather than sooner, but for various reasons most of the chapters until then will be blessedly free of it. :P


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