Sunday, December 14, 2014

Towers of Midnight 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 the Chapter 25.

1. Morgase discovers that she was manipulated by one of the Forsaken. Do you think that her discovery will finally alter her attitude towards Tallanvor, or will the poor lad have to go off and die in the Last Battle all unrequited and depressed? Does this information make it more likely that she will reveal her true identity to Perrin and Faile?

It seems unbelievable that she had not already heard about Rahvin because everyone else knows and it is presumably common knowledge around the camp. Perhaps she is very good at not listening to conversations whilst she goes about her duties as a maid! Whilst this appears to be horrible news at first glance, I can also see it coming as something of a relief because she can now shed some of the responsibility for her stupid behavior. However, I am quite sure that she will still blame herself for the evil deeds done during that time.

Her presumed death offers her an opportunity to leave her old life behind, so she could simply choose to marry Tallanvor and have a fine time with him in the remaining time before the Last Battle. This might be quite tempting, but I suspect that her sense of duty will force Morgase to try to reach Elayne and offer her as much motherly advice as the poor girl can stomach. Poor Tallanvor!

I doubt that she will volunteer to reveal her identity until she is forced to, probably by an encounter with Galad when there are some final attempts at negotiation. This makes perfect sense, as it will be very awkward for Perrin and Faile to have the former Andoran Queen in their camp, especially as they have been using her as a maid. I would also suspect that she is unwilling to risk exposing her presence to the Whitecloaks.

2. Phew! Maradon has finally opened its gates for Ituralde and his troops. Personally I could have kissed Yoeli at first, but do you think that he will really refuse to continue fighting Shadowspawn in order to submit to execution for his actions? What did you make of Lord Torkumen: Darkfriend or idiot?

I was getting rather worried that the Little Wolf would become Trolloc fodder when his army started to fall apart. I can only wish that Yoeli had not needed to kill some of his won people in order to offer assistance. I rather hope that he decides to be a little less honorable and slightly more useful by continuing the fight against the Shadow. However, these Borderlanders do have a very strange sense of honor, so I would not be surprised if he remained pig-headed and threw his life away in a pointless gesture.

I have to agree with Ituralde’s assessment that the man is a Darkfriend. Surely even an idiot would have been slightly more upset at the thousands of Trollocs swarming towards the city walls. Also, I cannot imagine that Queen Tenobia allows idiots to take control of any of her cities, especially those that are tactically important.  

3. Speaking of idiots . . . yet again Gawyn rushes in and ruins Egwene’s plans. Do you feel any sympathy for the poor lad, with his love-addled brain, or are you getting frustrated with his inability to let Egwene take care of herself? Any more thoughts on the identity of the assassin and Egwene’s assumption that it is Mesaana? Will Gawyn be any more sensible once he returns to Caemlyn?

Argh! I am beginning to wonder if it will be Gawyn’s fate to become Egwene’s Warder, or if he will instead become a smoking smudge on the carpet when she zaps him out of pure frustration. He STILL has not got the message that she is very powerful and actually capable of taking care of herself, but I am not quite sure what will persuade him to trust her even slightly. I can offer an intensive course of head slapping, but even that might not prove successful! :D

This latest incident makes me even less convinced that the assassin is Mesaana, or even a Black sister or Darkfriend. I am pretty certain that we are dealing with those super ninja/assassins sent into the Tower by Tuon. We know that one was killed by Siuan and Bryne, but I believe that five were sent on the mission. Whilst the attacker has powers that could very easily be ascribed to the One Power, we were given some heavy clues that the ninjas were very, very dangerous, probably due to ter’angreals of some description.

I sincerely hope that Gawyn will start to change his mind about many things once he has time to talk to Elayne and think about Egwene’s situation. I would not be surprised if his sister, or Birgitte, feels the need to slap some sense into him, but I think that he just needs to get a better perspective on the situation and apply some reasoning to his future choices. A little more thought before he rushes into action would do him a world of good.

4. So, Birgitte entered the Tower of Ghenjei, wandered around it for a few weeks and then died. Can we expect a better outcome for Mat, Thom and Noal? Obviously they are going to survive, but apart from Mat’s luck, do they have any other advantage that you can think of that Birgitte was lacking?

I find it very hard to believe that Mat, Thom or even Noal will die in the Tower. So far this series has been remarkably kind to its lead characters and we are getting too close to the Last Battle to have a few meaningless deaths. Also, I feel certain that Moiraine will be rescued and marry Thom, so that makes me think that he will certainly escape unscathed (otherwise I will cry . . . a lot!). Mat is highly unlikely to die because of his previous experiences with the Finn, huge caution and astounding luck. Although we still have not had the reveal that Noal actually IS Jain Farstrider, which is very obvious but surely needs to be acknowledged at some point, I suppose that he is the most likely to die a heroic death. This will be a shame, but definitely worth another chapter in his memoires.

The fact that Birgitte was defeated by the Tower is very worrying. It does not sound like our heroes have an advantage that she did not, apart from Mat’s luck. This is the main reason why I worry that Noal will not survive this particular adventure. At least the should be able to stop Olver going with them . . .

5. What is it about idiot Trakands this week?!!??! So, just for a change of pace, Elayne dashes off and places herself in terrible danger and then somehow manages to survive by the skin of her teeth. I doubt that any of us were surprised by her rashness, but what did you think of her disguise: effective or not? Was anyone at all surprised to discover that the secretary/torturer was a Darkfriend? How much do you want to see Mellar with a knife through his eye?

Good grief! Yes, I know that Elayne is pregnant, but surely most women do not become suicidal maniacs during their pregnancies?!??!? If Lini was there she would have quite a few things to say to Elayne: and none of them would be at all complimentary! :D

Having said that, I was rather impressed by her idea to trick the Blacks. Her disguise most certainly worked: I was completely unconvinced by Chesmal’s assertion that she had seen through it all along. It seems that she learnt about some sort of impending attack on Andor, which makes me wonder if that was the content of Verin’s letter. The revelation that Darkfriends are searching for Mat and Perrin was hardly surprising as they have been on the hit list for quite some time now, but at least we know that these are not still Verin’s flyers circulating after her death.

Strangely, I did not expect any man so ‘dedicated’ in the pursuit of torture to be anything other than a Darkfriend. This does make me wonder about Sylvase’s allegiance: so far I have not suspected that she is a Darkfriend, but this makes me even more cautious of her.  

I presume that Mellar took care of the torturer, but I wish that we could finally get rid of him as well. The man makes my skin crawl and I suspect that he will return to be a nuisance either before or during the Last Battle. His possession of a copy of Mat’s medallion makes me even more nervous, because it will make him even more difficult to kill.

6. It seems that Perrin may be coming to terms with his inner Wolf. Do you think that this will happen in time for the battle with the Whitecloaks, or will he need a few more ‘training sessions’ with Slayer before he can take that final step?

I had rather expected the battle against the Whitecloaks to occur this week, so I was rather surprised that it simply did not happen. I find it rather strange that two armies can camp close to each other and send letters back and forth before they finally decided to actually have a fight. Something about that seems far too polite to me! :D

After waiting so long for this battle, I am beginning to wonder if it will ever actually happen. Of course, we know that a few words from Morgase could prevent a lot of unnecessary bloodshed, but I feel as if we are waiting for something else to happen before the two armies face each other. I am not sure what that might be, but I am pretty certain that something is coming.

I hope that Perrin makes his breakthrough fairly soon, as he really needs to deal with Slayer. I get the impression that he is making progress rather quickly, so hopefully he will be able to save any other wolves from dying permanently.

7. Lan’s little army is growing steadily and he is thoroughly annoyed by it! How funny is this? I was disappointed that we did not get to experience the swapping of his Bond to Nynaeve in this section: am I just impatient, or are you looking forward to that scene as well?

I love these little snippets of Lan’s journey to becoming king: they are so funny, and he is so grumpy about all these brave and loyal people showing up to help him! :D

I find it hard to believe that we will not experience this pivotal moment from Lan’s perspective, but this disconnect in the timelines is my one major criticism of this volume in the series. This one is nowhere near as irritating as the lag in Perrin’s plot. I find it rather jarring that Nynaeve has obviously not Travelled to collect Tam yet, even though I can understand that it was necessary to follow his story in this volume in order to divide the twelfth ‘book’ into three roughly equal segments. I hope that we do get to see him reaction, as I am sure that it will be both funny and touching at the same time.


  1. Yeah there definitely is a time disconnect, and I think it's jarring because this is pretty much the ONLY volume where that is the case. All the story lines will be in sync again by the final volume, though. Give it time. :D

  2. 1. As a reader who can visit and live inside the head of all the characters all the time, it comes as a bit of a surprise that Morgase was still unaware that she had been duped by Rahvin. That justifies her decision to hide as a maid somewhat, since for all she knew she was still considered the villain, and not the victim. I'm really looking forward to seeing her reveal herself. With the series wrapping up soon, some secrets should start coming out, and this is one of them.

    2. I could still kiss him, to be honest. I'm not sure the Queen of Saldaea will even make it back before the end of the Last Battle, so Yoeli might have no choice but to live (oh, the horror!)

    I know what's up with Torkumen, so I won't say. But it will be made abundantly clear in one of many cool scenes next week!

    3. I do feel sympathy for him. Egwene is perhaps right, but she's not being very forthcoming about her preparations, so I can excuse the guy for thinking with his heart first when the girl he loves is (or appears to be) in danger. But I also think that getting away for a bit might help clear his head. He and Egwene are both on the same side, so I'm not overly worried that they won't come together eventually.

    About the assassin, I'm quite sure that Gawyn is right and Egwene is wrong.

    4. I agree that Mat must necessarily be quite safe, and Thom should get together with Moiraine unless Robert Jordan had planned a tragedy. Noal is the reddest of these shirts. So we'll see. Birgitte's story definitely ups the ante, though. It feels quite a bit more risky now.

    Yes, they have some other advantages. First, there's three of them and only one of Birgitte, and secondly, Mat has been there before.

    5. Honestly, it wasn't such a bad idea at all, but it could do with some cold-headed thinking and preparation instead of this impulsive catastrophe. Elayne must seriously be the Randlander champion of putting herself in danger.

    I notice how difficult it is to read about pregnant women in danger. When I read about the knife digging its way toward her womb I really had to wince. It must be instinctual to be protective about pregnant women's bellies. I guess that's also part of the reason why a certain episode in a certain popular fantasy TV series is so powerful.

    Mellar/Hanlon can rot in a ditch. Sooner rather than later, please.

    I was surprised (on my third time through the series, now) about the secretary. I suppose that answers the questions we had about Sylvase at the end of book eleven. I would be very surprised if it turned out she is not a darkfriend.

    6. It is building up towards a final confrontation between Perrin and Slayer. We'll have to wait and see if it's going to be part of the last battle or if it's one of those things that Perrin has to master before it. I have to mention again how great a villain Slayer is. Even now, thirteen books in, every time I read a battle between him and Perrin, it STILL feels like Slayer knows infinitely more about everything. It must be such an uphill struggle... And he's such a silent and different character, too. Not shadowspawn, not forsaken. More human than both Fain and Shaidar Haran.

    7. Yes, you will have to wait for him to realize it, since the Rand, Egwene and Nynaeve storylines are all quite a bit ahead of the rest. I believe Tam will be leaving Perrin next week, and that's really the most glaring discontinuity.

    1. True. If Morgase had not heard the talk about Rahvin then she had a lot of reasons for hiding as a maid. I am looking forward to her reveal as well as it will clear up many questions for her kids.

      I was wondering about Sylvase's monotone at the opera after party. Is she under Compulsion? Or does she know about the impending attack on Andor and was distracted mentally by that? Hmmm....

      Wow! I didn't realize the Perrin storyline was so far behind. I had assumed that Tam had gone and then be returned via Gateway.

  3. That's a really good point about Morgase not having picked up on the fairly common news concerning Rahvin. Until that scene, I had actually assumed that she had heard of it, even if it was just a half-formed rumor.

    If Olver sneaks into the Tower of Genjei with them, I bet the inhabitants would demand Olver as payment for their releasing Moiraine. That could be quite a scene! And Birgitte was dragging her lover's body around much of the time she was in the Tower. Luckily, all of Mat's party are entering the Tower able-bodied.

    Wasn't Sylvase talking in a kind of monotone at the after party to the opera? Perhaps she is under some sort of Compulsion. If her torturer was a Darkfriend of high enough rank, then she would be easy prey for a Forsaken.

    While I agree there is some lag in the timelines (like we haven't seen Lan experience the Bond being passed to Nynaeve) but I had simply assumed that Nynaeve (or another Aes Sedai) had returned Tam to Perrin's army, as he is obviously needed there.


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