Monday, August 11, 2014

Knife of Dreams by Robert Jordan: Week 4

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 18.

1. Elayne seems to be having an ‘interesting’ time because of her pregnancy. Do you think that she is right to be so confident of her continued survival just because of Min’s viewing? Are you concerned that she and Birgitte are going to make a massive error of judgment because of either tiredness or pregnancy-induced irrationality?

We know that Min’s viewings have all come true so far, but I cannot help thinking that Elayne is being a little too overconfident about her own survival. I know that she is hardly thinking sensibly at the moments, but I would like to see her being a little more careful and much less resentful towards those trying to ensure her safety. I am constantly amazed that Birgitte has not slapped some sense into her before now! :D

However, Birgitte is hardly taking care of herself properly, so she is hardly the right choice of caretaker at the moment. I fear that the feedback loop of their combined tiredness and scattered thinking will lead to a horrible misstep at some point. The presence of Captain Mellar and at least one Black Sister makes me very nervous.

2. Some new allies have arrived, but the castle and, possibly the whole city, are rearranging themself at random. How do you see the siege of Caemlyn playing out? Will the mercenaries remain loyal or will Arymilla be able to bribe them? Can Elayne attract any of the Great Houses that have adult leaders?

Discovering that the castle itself was the problem, and not Elayne’s hormone-addled brain, was reassuring for only a moment or two before I realized how catastrophic this could be. I am not surprised that everyone is scared witless, what with that and the ghosts walking about in broad daylight. I am surprised that there has not been a severe reduction in the number of servants available: I expected them to run away screaming once this started to happen. Even if it does not actually cause any deaths or injuries, it will certainly play havoc with morale and that could be very dangerous to the defenders.

I am not quite sure how rich Arymilla is, so I am not sure if she can bribe the mercenaries or not. However, I doubt that it would take very much to buy a few men at one of the gates so that they are mysteriously left unlocked one night. I know that Elayne is trying to keep loyal forces on the gates, but it only takes a few coins in the right greasy palms and the siege could be over very quickly. However, I suspect that something miraculous will happen to save the day: probably something involving a rather large gateway and an unexpected force arriving to crush Arymilla’s fragile alliance.

Whilst the young High Seats in Caemlyn are a mixed bunch, at least they all seem willing to stand firm in their support for Elayne. It is a shame that many of the other Houses are waiting to see who wins the siege before making an open choice. All this fighting and loss of men and resources is such an unnecessary waste with the Last Battle approaching fast. In many ways, this series is a very good treatise on why monarchy is such a rubbish way to govern a country.

3. Aviendha discovers a super, new Talent and then gets whisked away by the Wise Ones. I found this chapter rather jarring for some reason: perhaps I am just accustomed to the meandering pace that the past few books have adopted! Do you think that Aviendha’s departure will have a serious effect on Elayne’s morale, or ability to stop herself throwing things? Do you find it a little too convenient that the pair can now identify the use of angreal and also recreate them?

I do worry that Elayne’s increasingly irrational behavior will suffer now that Aviendha’s comforting presence is gone, and she did always act as the last line of defense against an assassin. Now Elayne is alone and unable to channel for most of the time, so she is particularly vulnerable with Aviendha missing.

I suppose it could be argued that the Pattern has woven all these people with extraordinary Talents together into a fighting force for the Last Battle, but it is starting to get a little tiresome that they are all so very, very special. Perhaps this is why I enjoy some of the less gifted, more normal, characters so much!

4. Captain Mellar is certainly a man in great need of a sharp dagger to the jugular. Do you think that this latest shadow will be anymore successful than the last few? Do you think that Mellar will be able to hold himself in check much longer, or will Elayne’s rudeness finally provoke him to violence?

It seems like this particular thief is very successful at avoiding detection, so I suppose that he has a reasonable chance of staying alive for a few days. However, I am not sure that Elayne will be able to learn anything useful from him, even if she gets evidence of his activities are a Darkfriend. I think that it is much more likely that he will still be able to slip through her fingers and cause mischief, much as we saw Mili do in Ebou Dar. Of course, she might just push him too far with her hostile attitude and find herself in a very unpleasant position with no Power to fall back upon.

5. Someone is bumping off members of the Kin. Do you think it really is one of the two sisters under suspicion of Adeleas’ murder? Do you think that the Kin will scatter and flee once it is revealed that someone is targeting them, or will they stand firm and try to defend themselves?

It certainly seems to be one of them, although I suppose there is the very faint possibility that it is someone else trying to cause chaos. However, that could only really be one of the Forsaken, and we have no evidence of any of them working in Caemlyn. I hope that the Kin can be persuaded to stay and fight: it is obvious that the murderer is trying to cause panic, so they may be made to see the logic in trying to withstand the terror tactics. However, they are a large and disparate group of head-strong women, so anything is possible.

6. Arymilla has a very unstable alliance built upon threats and deceit. Do you think that she can hold it together long enough to take Caemlyn? What do you make of Nasin and his ‘simple’ granddaughter: am I the only one who thinks that they are playing a very cunning scheme to use Arymilla’s army for their own ends?

As with Sevanna, I feel as if Arymilla is simply a device to provide plenty of conflict and annoyance for our heroes. I doubt that she has much real chance of taking Caemlyn, because Elayne has already been shown to be almost perfectly suited for her role as queen. Even the way that Arymilla has gained her support shows that she would not be a good queen for Andor, so she really has not got a hope of success. Of course, I could be mistaken, but I seriously doubt it.

As we see more of Nasin I become increasingly convinced that he is a wily old fox playing Arymilla for his own purposes. I suspect that his suspiciously astute granddaughter is intended to be the next queen, and Arymilla is merely a convenient way to move towards that goal at the moment. He is playing a long game and will probably still be standing and playing the madman when everyone else is dead.

7. Rand has the link to Mat and Perrin that all three share, but he now has a link to Moridin as well. Do you think that this could work to his advantage, or will it be a massive weakness? Do you think it is connected to his nausea when seizing Saidin?

Although the link with Mat and Perrin is inconvenient for all three of them, it does at least provide each of them with the reassurance of knowing that the others are alive and well. It also gives them some indication of what they are doing, which could have some advantage in the future. However, the link to Moridin is an entirely different matter. This could prove to be massively useful, it if allows Rand to gain some insight into the Forsaken’s plans, but unimaginably dangerous if the reverse is true.

I cannot remember if Rand’s nausea began before or after the fight with Sammael in Shadar Logoth, but it seems likely that the link with Moridin began at that time. Although I always think of Ghostbusters when I think of the balefire incident (“Don’t cross the streams!”), it makes some sort of sense that the interaction between their channeling set up this strange connection. Because they were using two different sources of Power, I can only assume that has set up some form of dissonant resonance, which produces the nausea. I do not think that we have seen Moridin sharing this side-effect, but it would be interesting to learn if he also now suffers in the same way.

8. Covril has arrived with Erith! How quickly do you think that she can organize Loial’s wedding? How does Cadsuane know her?

Yay! Time for a shotgun Ogier wedding! :D

I am fairly certain that Loial will find himself married before he has a chance to finish looking scared. This assumes that they do not need to be in a stedding to have the ceremony, but I assume that nobody would argue with Covril anyway!

I suspect that Covril is much more like her son than she would like to admit, so I imagine that she did some wandering in her youth, which would have led her to meet Cadsuane. This does make me wonder what Loial’s father is like and why we never hear about him . . . perhaps he is too busy with his books to notice that the rest of his family is off and wandering about the rest of the world! :D


  1. 1. I think she's exaggerating her immortality, really. Even if she must survive until her babies are born,
    there's ten thousand other ways she can endanger the cause and her own bid for the throne (see: being
    captured, among other things). Yes, I'm afraid that something is going to go wrong. Mellar is there for
    a reason, after all. And there's still the unknown Black Ajah sister.

    2. Wasn't that last Arymilla PoV about her bribing the mercenaries? It didn't say, specifically, but I
    assume that's what it was about. She gave herself one week (which is 10 days in this world, by the way)
    to come up with the funds, so I guess that's about how long Elayne has to win her war.

    3. A little bit jarring maybe. Not very much. Maybe I just have the benfit of knowing that this talent of
    hers is going to go mostly unused. Only one of the ter'angreal she identified will play a small part
    of the story. So I think it was more Robert Jordan going "look at all these cool ter'angreal", than
    "look at the cool things Aviendha can do".

    Speaking of Robert Jordan, that little bearded man library ter'angreal is a cameo of himself. It was
    confirmed in a leaflet for the launch of the last book if I remember correctly.

    Aviendhas departure will probably affect Elayne, and not in a good way. I really hope she can hold it

    Not that I've ever been pregnant, though.

    4. I honestly can't remember, but there must be a reason why Robert Jordan made a point about this guy
    specifically. He rarely writes things without reason, after all. But yeah, I'm in the dark about this
    one. I do know that Mellar is an unusually gifted darkfriend, so I would not expect very much from
    our pickpocketing friend.

    5. I'm pretty sure Elayne is right in her suspicions, and that it is also Careane or Sareitha. I don't
    think it is Merilille because I suspect that the person who keeps listening in on her is the same one,
    and Merilille is long gone already. So it really should be one of the two.

    If Reanne Corly were still alive I would say the Kin's not going anywhere. Without her, I really don't
    know. Alise is still there, right? She's a formidable lady, maybe she do the job successfully.

    6. Arymilla is nothing. After spending chapters upon chapters with Sevanna and Therava I can breeze
    through her sparse points of view easily. Even as an incompetent antagonistic character she is

    7. That's interesting, I never heard anyone suggest that Rand's nausea is connected to his connection
    (hehe) with Moridin. You might be right, I honestly don't know. I have no idea what the nausea comes

    The link to Moridin is different from those with Mat and Perrin. It doesn't allow Rand to see what
    Moridin is doing, and I don't think Moridin can see what Rand is doing either. Still, it's anyone's
    guess what its purpose is. And was this intentional from Moridin's side?

    8. Let's say in 0.2 chapters? ;-)

    Cadsuane has been walking this world for 300 years, and Covril presumably at least as long. She's
    what passes for a very influential Ogier politician, so it's not unheard of that they just crossed
    paths on whatever mission. Cadsuane has a history of adventure, after all.


    "Argh - so much set up... I just wish we could resolve just one of these plot lines!"

    Well, you're in luck. At this stage we are more or less past the dry spell. From here on out it will
    start picking up noticeably! Congratulations. A lot of people give up before this point.

    1. I didn't realize a week was 10 days in this world. Hmm...Now I think of all the plans and how many weeks were required and yep, things sure do take a long time.

      Wow! A Jordan cameo in the story! That is pretty cool. Now I am trying to remember what that angreal did......

      Yep. We've had books to get used to Sevanna being a n annoyance and yet knowing that she is never going to capture Rand and force him into marriage. I feel the same way about Arymilla. She's never going to gain the throne.

  2. I am looking forward to the crushing of Arymilla's forces. Elayne has so much to do without this siege to see to, like prepping her lands for the Last Battle, birthing babies, stockpiling weapons and food, shoring up the city walls, etc.

    I totally agree with you about the extra specialness of some of our main characters and how they keep getting more talents. Aviendha with her angreal ID ability, Egwene with her true dreaming, etc. At this point they feel more like convenient plot devices than crafty, clever writing.

    I too worry that Elayne will push Mellar too far, particularly when she is alone, and that he could injure her, maybe even put her into a coma. After all, Min's viewing only said the babies would be born. The viewing didn't say that Elayne had to be healthy and conscious when that happened.

    I hope Moridin pukes every time he touches the power, haha!

    Hmmm... Now I too am interested to know what happened to Loial's father.


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