Sunday, November 30, 2014

Towers of Midnight 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 the Chapter 13.

1) Gawyn and the Warder Sleet are playing detective over the murdered Aes Sedai. Care to compare them to other literary detectives? Do you think Egwene is correct in thinking a Forsaken is behind the murders?

I cannot quite see Gawyn as Sherlock Holmes or Hercule Poirot! He and Sleete do seem to be noticing things that have been missed by the Aes Sedai, but I am not convinced that they are going to solve this mystery all by themselves. I suspect that it will need to be a collective effort, if Egwene can bring herself to trust Gawyn with more information.

My first thought was that these murders must be the work of those nasty Seanchan super ninjas that were left behind after the attack. I was surprised when Egwene suggested that it was Mesaana causing the deaths because it does not make much sense. Unless being a threat to the Forsaken somehow connects all these Sisters, I do not understand why she would suddenly start killing them now. Also, she would surely use the One Power rather than a knife. The discovery of the black silk makes me even more certain that this is not Mesaana, but Tuon’s suicidal assassins: after all, she did think about how none of them would return from the Tower after the attack.

2) Graendal was interrupted while reading A Light in the Snow (what genre book do you think that was?) to have a meeting with Moridin, wherein he reveals the book or prophecies. What prophecies do you think the dark side has? And what about the prophecy that Perrin shall die at the bad guys' hands?

I find it difficult to imagine Graendal reading a soppy Romance novel. I imagine that she is much more into psychological mysteries, but I could be wrong! :D

This book of prophecies could be very interesting, and I hope that it is the collection that Verin mentioned. I wonder if the dotty old Brown managed to get a peek at it before her untimely suicide. Learning about more of the prophecies could help us to understand some of the decisions made by the Forsaken, but I doubt that we will get to discover many of them. Of course, they are just as open to misinterpretation and error as the ones that we have seen on the Light side, so they may be fairly useless.

I was rather shocked at the thought that Perrin is supposed to die in the Last Battle, as I had rather assumed that he and Mat would survive even though Rand will obviously perish (Min has ‘viewed’ his funeral pyre). I hope that this proves to be one of the incorrect prophecies, or perhaps Moridin and Graendal have simply misinterpreted who is being spoken about. Hopefully it is ambiguous enough that Perrin may not be the one who is supposed to die . . .

On a side note, I got the distinct impression that it was bound in human skin . . . yikes! :(

3) Did anyone else get a giggle when Morgase demands of Perrin, 'Do you know my heart?' in regards to her feelings for Talanvor? What did you think of Perrin's & Galad's meeting? How do you think the face off on the field of battle shall go?

I thought Morgase was quite right to tell Perrin to “Get stuffed!” For someone who claims that he does not want to be a leader, this was an astoundingly patronizing proclamation from him. Whilst I agree that Morgase would do a lot better after some serious sexytimes with Tallanvor, I cannot condone such offensive behavior from Perrin: shame on you, Blacksmith!

I thought that the meeting went as well as I expected. Neither man has the full truth of the situation, which has led them both to make the wrong decision even if it is for all the right reasons. I was particularly concerned by both Perrin and Edarra thinking that all the other Whitecloaks, apart from Galad, had a feeling of wrongness about them. We know that both Byar and Bornhald are biased against Perrin, but I had rather hoped that they others would be more neutral in their dealings with him.

It seems like both men believe that they have the superior numbers, which makes very little sense unless the Whitecloaks have not actually seen the Aiel working with Perrin. Whilst I think that we will see both armies prepare for battle, I am not sure that either man will want to be the first to charge the ‘enemy’ and so we may find that some third party intervenes and stops the fight before it can start. I suspect that they will avoid all out warfare somehow . . . perhaps the Shaido will finally show up and give them something to agree about.

4) We run into Mat at the Seven Striped Lass tavern (is that yet another reference to spanking?) and toying with Verin's letter. Later that night he battles the golem. Do you think the threat of the golem will be the thing that forces Mat to open Verin's letter? Teslyn speaks plainly and honestly to Mat, thanking him, and then fights the golem with him. Do you think this will alter his attitude towards Aes Sedai in the future?

Obviously, I am far more innocent than you, Susan, because I assumed that it was referring to the Amyrlin! :D

I suspect that Mat will only open Verin’s letter when he has waited the allotted time: if he was prepared to break his oath he would have done it by now. In fact, I can imagine that the arrival of the gholam might distract him enough that he forgets about it for some time.

I was pleasantly surprised by Teslyn’s actions, and I hope that this marks a change in the way that some Aes Sedai treat Mat. He may be irritating, but he is ta’veren, a great friend to the Dragon Reborn and the husband of the Seanchan Empress. Also, it is very obviously that he will be an important general in the Last Battle. These are all excellent reasons to develop a decent working relationship with the man, in my opinion. I hope that he can start to trust more of the Sisters, but that will largely depend on how rude they are to him.

5) Elayne has to make a decision soon about what to do with the captives (those who did not support her). What do you think she should do? Also, she plans to take Cairhein. Do you think this is wise and will be as easy as she thinks it will be?

It seems to me that she has a selection of bad options, so it is a case of choosing the least offensive and moving on to pastures new. She certainly needs to do something, and I am not sure that she is thinking very clearly at the moment.

I was surprised by her announcement about Cairhein, especially as she has only just got her bum on the Lion Throne! However, it does make some sense, especially as it gives everyone an enemy to rally against and a task that requires them to unite as a nation. It might also provide the less supportive nobles with an incentive to play nice, otherwise she might use them as cannon fodder! :D

I just have to mention how much I enjoyed Mat’s wonderful letter . . . I loved the comment about him not rewriting it because Thom was laughing so much! :D

6) Rand returns to Tear. Please comment upon his reunion with everyone there such as Min, tam, Nynaeve, Cadsuane, the Aiel, etc. Where do you think Alanna has gone? Who will Rand set Cadsuane to finding? Will Rand be able to meet his toh towards the Maidens and the Aiel in general?

It is going to take a little time for me to get used to the new, Christ-like Rand, with his happy happiness and warm, fuzzy glowingness. It was very nice to see how his transformation has affected Min, and the teary greeting for Tam was very touching. I loved the way he beat Nynaeve at her own game and then berated Cadsuane in a gentle, almost teasing way.

At first I thought that Alanna might have gone to the Tower, but it seems that she has gone wherever Verin was wanting to send people. I presume that this has placed her in great danger and that we will learn all about it very soon. As for Cadsuane, Rand could have her searching for just about anyone: I have no idea who it might be. I am equally stumped when it comes to his decision to repay his toh to the Aiel. I just hope that we will not see him moving drips of water or something else completely useless.

I am fairly concerned about his comment about going back to the Tower. As he intends to take Bashere, this could be a tension situation, and I am sure that both he and Egwene will be angry by the time it is over.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Towers of Midnight 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 the Chapter 4.

1.  Everyone who thought Graendal might not be dead can pat themselves on the back.  With Aran'gar's death that leaves six.  Are there any others, thought dead, that you fear we might see again?

For once it seemed much too obvious that we had a nice and neat confirmation that could not possibly be wrong even though we did not witness her actual demise. I am glad that Mr Sanderson chose to reveal this surprise soon afterwards, because it would have been annoying for Graendal to reappear during the Last Battle without a hint before then. I am not wildly happy that she deceived Rand, but it is nice to have at least one Forsaken who is not a moron . . . and I am delighted that she is a female!

I am trying to remember if we have had confirmation that Cyndane is actually Lanfear, but I fear that my aged brain is starting to suffer from Wheel of Time overload! Other than the infuriating Lanfear, I think we are fairly certain that all of the other dead Forsaken are staying firmly out of the action in the future. Egwene’s Dream of thirteen black towers reduced to only six seems to confirm that, unless someone can suggest a different interpretation.

2.  Is this the first time we've seen Padan Fain since book nine? Running around the Blight setting world records for creepiness... What role do you think he has to play in what is coming?

Good grief, is it really that long since he showed up? I seem to be suffering from some sort of strange time distortion effect as well as memory overload!!

Whilst Fain is possibly the most awesomely horrifying character of all time, though Shaidar Haran runs him a close second, he is very entertaining to read. His sections are so mind-bendingly wrong that they are always a surprise, even though they feel a little like being unable to tear one’s eyes away from a horrific car crash.

I suspect that he will play a role similar to that of Gollum, a character that he seems to mirror in many ways. Whilst he plans to murder Rand and eat his brains before taking on the Dark One himself, I expect him to inadvertently aid the Light at the very end. Or Rand will simply swat him like a bug . . .

3.  The blightborder in Kandor is attacked and will probably not hold for long.  Meanwhile, Lan is in Saldaea, heading east. Will he even make it to Tarwin's Gap, or will he be caught up in the invasion?  How many followers do you expect to see before he gives up the lone wolf plan?

The attack on the towers made me wonder if this invasion was the important information in Verin’s letter. I imagine that it takes quite a bit of organization to gather and target so many Shadowspawn, so she could have learnt about it in time to warn people who could be useful in stopping it. I suspect that the letter delivered to Rand in Tar Valon is also from her.

But to get back to Lan . . . Of course he will make it to Tarwin’s Gap: he is Lan the mighty, if grumpy, warrior-king, so he is guaranteed a spot in the Last Battle! He will also gather a mighty army of people too scared of Nynaeve to refuse to help him. Plus, he seems to have impressed quite a lot of people in his earlier life, so they will be happy to fight at his side. However, I am rather hoping that he does not end up with an army of undead oathbreakers that only he can summon as that would feel a little too similar to Tolkien.

4.  Yet another reunion happens as Rand reveals part of his plan to Egwene, but she is not pleased.  Rand looks quite sane but Egwene is not so sure.  Do you expect this to be a big conflict before the Last Battle?  Who do you think is right?

I was rather surprised by how low key this was, especially as the Chapter was titled “The Amyrlin’s Anger”. I was expecting more fireworks and shouting, especially from Egwene, but it was all very civilized.

I suspect that Egwene will be angry at first, but will eventually come to see that Rand is correct. It does make sense that you need to clear away the rubbish before building a new door to the Bore, but I can understand why any sane person would be more than a little reluctant to remove that last impediment to the Dark One’s freedom. Hopefully a combination of Browns and Whites can help her to see the logic of doing what is necessary.

5.  It looks like we'll be spending a lot of time this book with Perrin and Hopper in T'A'R.  Excited?  Anything special you want to see?  Will we maybe run into Slayer again?

Yay! Any time spent with Hoper is great fun, because the wolves have such a unique perspective on the world. However, I am increasingly concerned that he will finally die in the Dream and leave the world forever, possibly at the hands of Slayer. We have not seen or heard from Slayer for a very long time, so I am quite sure that he will return very soon and try to remove Perrin before the Last Battle.

6.  It also looks like we'll see a confrontation between Perrin and the Whitecloaks, world champions in grudge-keeping.  How will this play out?  How do you think Galad is doing as Lord Captain Commander?

Oh crumbs! This could be very, very bad, especially if Bornhald and Byar have anything to say about it. However, Galad is a sensible guy, with his eyes firmly set on reaching the Last Battle, so I am not sure that the Children will attack Perrin’s army en masse. But, then again, we know that he will always do what he considers to be right, so perhaps he will challenge Perrin to a duel to prove his innocence. Also, I am not sure if Morgase is with Gill’s party, but she could talk some sense into her stepson if necessary.

Galad seems to be doing a remarkably good job of making the Children into a useful force for the Light rather than an annoying bunch of self-righteous prats. Some of it seems very fortunate, which makes me wonder if he shares some ta’veren aspects with his half-brother, Rand. He is mirroring Egwene in his ability to unite a divided force, but I am not sure that he will be able to persuade both Bornhald and Byar to forgive Perrin.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

The Gathering Storm by Robert Jordan: Week 7

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 the book.

1.  Egwene appears very reluctant to forgive Siuan and Gawyn for having rescued her from Tar Valon.  Do you think she went overboard?  Has Siuan lost her status for ever?  What sort of thing might it take for Egwene and Gawyn to finally get together as they should?

I suppose she did seem a little harsh, but she was much more concerned with her efforts to reunite the Tower than her own personal safety. Her disappearance after the attack could have been very problematic because she could have been accused of deserting her Sisters in their time of need, although I think her defensive actions would have countered that complaint. Still, she did not know that Elaida had been captured, or that the Ajah Heads would finally see sense and make her the true Amyrlin.

I am certain that Siuan will retain much of her status with Egwene, probably by becoming the head of the Blue Eyes and Ears network in the newly unified Tower. Her actions were based upon much more sensible reasons that Gawyn’s, which were still driven by the idea of Egwene as a helpless little puppet. I imagine that their hormones will finally push the lovers together, but Gawyn’s attitude needs some very serious adjustment before they can have a healthy relationship.

2.  The Black Ajah is purged and all its members are now either dead or missing.  Do you agree with Egwene's plan, or would you have waited until after the reunification, to get all of them at once? Would you have liked to see the hunters in the White Tower (Saerin et al) play a larger role?

This seemed like the most sensible approach because it meant that Egwene could trust all of the rebel Sisters as her forces attacked the Tower. She did not anticipate the Tower allowing her to enter without a fight, so I can fully understand why she did not want Blacks ‘accidentally’ killing people or causing other problems. Also, it would have been very difficult for Egwene alone to subdue the entire Tower: this way she only had to bend a few to her will before then relying upon them to help with the others in the camp and then back in Tar Valon itself.

I did not expect Saerin or the others to step forward because they were too few in number to risk exposure. However, I assume that they were the ones who handed over the Oath Rod. It is a shame that secrecy is such an integral part of life as an Aes Sedai, but in this case I think that they were right to stay quiet.

3.  The Aes Sedai are reunited, eight books after the split, with no more bloodshed.  What do you think of everything?  Do you agree with the decision to take Silviana as a keeper, and to distribute the blame?  What will now happen with the Red?  And just how epic were those speeches?

Egwene has become my favorite character during the last few books because she has shown the most growth and huge heapings of common sense, which seems to be in short supply in this world! I loved the way that she handled every step of this journey, and I cannot fault her motives or plans.

I thought that Silviana was an excellent choice. She is a remarkably competent woman who will do almost anything to fulfill her duty. However, she was also the only person to openly stand against Elaida and rebuke her for her treatment of a lowly Novice. She grew to admire and respect Egwene and she has a uniquely intimate knowledge of just how strong the new Amyrlin really is.

I hope that the Reds can see Silviana’s position as an olive branch and start to trust again. Egwene’s decision to berate everyone, including herself, should help this a little as they must surely expect retribution and petty revenge from the Blues if nobody else. I suspect that it will be difficult to persuade everyone to try to be one happy family, as it seems like the inter-Ajah bickering is a centuries old tradition. We can see how difficult it is for Cadsuane to change her way of behaving and I suspect that she is fairly typical of most Aes Sedai in that respect.

4.  Were you happy to see Hurin again?  Do you think he was happy to see Rand?  What can be done now, from Rand's side, to fix this problem with the Borderlanders?

I was certainly surprised, but it made sense to send someone that Rand had known personally as a messenger. However, the message he carried was highly likely to get him killed, so I was rather annoyed with the Borderlanders for putting him in such danger. Of course, he was probably overjoyed at the chance to reunite with ‘Lord’ Rand . . . poor guy!

I rather hope that Rand will simply send Bashere to grab hold of Tenobia, by the ear if possible, and drag her out of Far Madding. Their message was incredibly insulting and I would not blame Rand for choosing to just ignore them for the duration. Of course, he has sent them a massive insult by suggesting that they are cowards sitting in Far Madding to save their own hides, so he might provoke them into a meeting. However, it could be that the ‘new’ Rand will have a different opinion, so we may see him submit to their demands and face them in Far Madding after all.

5.  Rand has a surprise meeting with Tam, for the first time since book one, and it does not go well!  Even though Rand was insane, how much blame rests with Cadsuane and Nynaeve here?

It is easy to see this meeting as a total disaster. However, it acts as the catalyst to Rand’s epiphany, which can only be considered a Very Good Thing. It was certainly a very risky maneuver, but I cannot think of anything else that could have worked. Whilst it seems that Cadsuane is the author of this plan, I imagine that all the Wise Ones had a chance to persuade her of its foolishness if they thought it was hopelessly stupid, and I am sure that Nynaeve would see the possibility of Tam being able to reach Rand when nobody else could.

6.  We got some more hints about the nature of Callandor, and now that the male Choedan Kal is also destroyed, they are more relevant than ever.  Does anyone want to try guessing what it's for?

Callandor is shaped as a sword, which would rather suggest that it is intended to be used as a weapon. It places no limit on the amount of power that the user can draw, which is probably a good thing if you are planning to use it to destroy the Dark One. So that is my prediction: Rand must use it to defeat the Big Bad Guy.

That only leaves us with one other puzzle: whom will he choose as the two women in the Circle? One obvious pairing would be Elayne and Aviendha. These are both very powerful channelers and Rand trusts them completely. However, he did not ask either of them to help him with cleansing saidin, so they might not be his first choice for this task either. Elayne’s confirmed pregnancy and Aviendha’s supposed quadruplets might also make him unwilling to risk their deaths in such a risky action. Plus, we know that Elayne is struggling with her channeling and might be too busy leading her armies against the Shadow. That makes me think that good old Nynaeve might be called upon to tug her braid at the Dark One, possibly with the help of a certain annoying Blue that is going to be rescued in the next book . . . he trusts both of these women as much as anyone else, and they are both certainly stubborn enough to stick with him to the bitter end.

7.  Rand travels to Dragonmount and has his epiphany.  Is he now sane for good?  What do you think he will be like when we see him again?  Was this what Cadsuane needed to teach him?  Feel free to speculate on the nature of the Lews Therin voice.

I am not sure that he is entirely sane, but he has certainly come to terms with what he has to do. Releasing all that anger and frustration will hopefully help him to be slightly more agreeable and approachable to his allies. I hope that he will be a little more like the Rand we first met in Book One, although there may be an overtone of sadness. At least he will be less likely to simply balefire people for being a little annoying! :D

Cadsuane’s actions have certainly helped him to integrate Lews Therin and find a way to go forward without despair and anger. In this respect, she has certainly taught him something massively important. However, this may not be all she has to do to fulfill Min’s viewing.

I am still not sure what to make of Lews Therin. Is he really a separate personality inside Rand or simply a figment of his madness? The fact that he knows things from the past suggests that he cannot be just an aspect of Rand himself, but that might be far too logical for this series! :D

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