Monday, August 25, 2014

Knife of Dreams by Robert Jordan: Week 6

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 26.

1) Egwene is holding strong in the Tower. Have you had a similar experience to her revelation about embracing the pain?

Why does the phrase “embracing the pain” always make me think of Fifty Shades of Gray???? :D

I am not a great fan of pain, so I am not sure that I could ‘embrace’ it quite so enthusiastically as Egwene. However, I do share her ability to have a really good cry and then walk away feeling relatively normal . . . although I am pretty sure that I would be limping if someone had just been beating MY bottom!

Having said that, I do think I understand her determination to endure the discomfort and not give way to it. During my teenage years, my family and I did a lot of cycling and there were many occasions when I had to steel myself to keep turning those pedals in order to get myself home. At the time, I was not massively impressed by the exhaustion and resented my parents for making me suffer so much. However, by the time I got home to a bath and hot food I felt an unmistakable sense of achievement and pride in my own ability to push through a difficult situation. I am quite sure that it helped me to become more resilient and self-reliant . . . and I still prefer to get myself out of uncomfortable situations rather than relying on others to do it for me.

It seems that Egwene’s acceptance of her pain is having a much more significant effect on the others in the Tower, especially those who have the most contact with her. I seriously doubt that Silviana will remain quiet about Egwene’s punishments for much longer: they obviously are not having the effect that Elaida wants.

2) Egwene seems to be hoping for a mutiny from within the Tower. Do you think this will happen? If so, is it more likely to start with the initiates or with the Aes Sedai closest to Elaida?

There is so much tension in the Tower that I am almost surprised that it has not happened already. However, the inter-Ajah hostility has deflected attention away from Elaida and her total incompetence as Amyrlin: once the Sisters start to look beyond that division then Elaida is doomed.

We know that an attack by the Seanchan is coming, and that has a very good chance of being the stimulus for removing Elaida, especially as Egwene has given a very specific, and public, warning about it. However, I think it is much more likely that Elaida will eventually visit reality long enough to realize that her treatment of Egwene is being completely ineffective, and is, in fact, creating sympathy and support for the rebel Amyrlin. Once that sinks into her immensely thick skull, I predict that she will lose the plot quite dramatically and show how unstable, vindictive and petty she really is. This will provide the Hall with the excuse that it has been waiting for and she will be removed from her position so quickly that her feet will not touch the ground.

Of course, I could be wrong, and the Hall might simply sit and watch as Elaida tries to turn Egwene into a tiny pile of ashes . . .  

3) Egwene hears that Aes Sedai have been bonded to Asha'men and that some Aes Sedai have sworn oaths to Rand. What did you make of her reaction that it is inappropriate (at the least) for Aes Sedai to swear oaths to any man?

Many times during this Read Along we have discussed Mr Jordan’s apparent belief that men and women are completely different and incapable of understanding one another. I can only assume that he and his wife struggled to communicate, because I cannot think of a single pairing in this series that shows any form of easy understanding between people of opposite sexes. I would be interested to learn of an example, but none spring to mind at the moment, and the books do seem to carry a definite taint of antagonism between the sexes.

Whilst I would agree with Egwene that Sisters should not be bound to obey anyone, I also understand why Rand has demanded that they swear these oaths. I fear that Egwene has been around Aes Sedai for too long and has started to forget how they treat other people. Obviously, her time as a damane has made her extremely sensitive to being controlled, and she is unaware of the details surrounding his kidnapping and treatment by Galina and the others sent by Elaida, but I am still disappointed that she automatically sides with her Sisters rather than wondering what cause Rand to behave so tyrannically.

I hope that he gets a chance to explain it all to her, but the series is littered with so many examples of poor communication and misunderstandings that I doubt that we will see that happen. I suspect that Egwene may never know, or understand, his reasons and will simply resent his ‘male wrongheadedness’.

4) We spent a little time in Tuon's head this reading. What surprised you the most? Did you find Tuon's reaction to her first kiss amusing?

I have to admit that I find Tuon as confusing as Mat does. I still have no idea why she suddenly decided that he could kiss her. Even being inside her head provided little extra understanding for her motives, so I am truly perplexed by her.

Her obvious ignorance about Mat’s link to Rand and his status as ta’veren make it all the more surprising that she has stayed with him for so long. What game is she playing and what does she hope to gain from her time with him? I wish I could work it out, but I simply have no clue at the moment.

5) Grady and the other Asha'men with Perrin are looking pretty haggard, worn out from making gateways to move troops around. Will they hold up for the Shaido fight? And young Aram is also looking pretty haggard, but from some different reason. Is he the weakest link in the forthcoming fight?

The Asha’man have a couple of days to rest before the assault on Malden, but I do worry that they will still be exhausted when the attack comes. Hopefully, the shock of the Wise Ones being ineffective will cause the Shaido to collapse with not much of a fight and then Perrin, Faile and the rest can go home all safe and sound. Unfortunately, I suspect that it will not by that simple and the Asha’man may be pushed to breaking point before the Shaido are routed.

Aram is very obviously going to betray Perrin: it could not be more clear if he had a hand-written sign hanging around his neck. I assume that Masema has been worming his way under the young man’s skin and filling his head with perceived slights and imagined grievances. He is a liability and I will be happier once he is removed.

6) Play a kissing game with Rolan or meet with Galina in the burned out half of Malden to pass off the Oath Rod.... Which would you choose?

That is a very easy choice, although I do not condone infidelity. I am surprised that Faile is desperate enough to trust Galina at all, but we all know that the Aes Sedai is planning something unpleasant. Hopefully, Perrin’s attack will come before Galina bops Faile over the head with a rock and buries her body in a collapsed house.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Knife of Dreams by Robert Jordan: Week 5

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 23.

1. Our favorite Ogier bachelor is finally married.  Any wise words for the newlyweds?  The Ogier are torn on whether to leave this world or help humanity out.  Do you think Loial will be able to sway them?

I guess my wisest words are: “Find a really strong bed!” :D

In some ways I was a little disappointed by the speed of this wedding, but I can also appreciate the no-nonsense attitude to simply getting things done. It would have been so much easier to take this route when I married my hubby! I am not sure that Covril will find it easy to stop bullying poor Loial, but I am certain that Erith is firmly in control now. Of course, that may not give Loial much more freedom, but I guess that Erith might be slightly more open to persuasion, especially from her new husband.

I am still coming to terms with the idea that the Ogier are not originally from this world. This throws up so many questions about their origins, but I seriously doubt that we will never learn many details and they will remain as mysterious as the Aelfinn and Eelfinn. It makes me wonder how their departure would affect the Longing: will there be steddings in their new location or will they need to keep hopping to new worlds in the hope of finding one that is suitable? Also, will the move take all the Ogier, including those who live within Seanchan society, or does the book open a portal of some kind? Argghhhh!!!!!

I sincerely hope that the Ogier will stay and fight because they will be a very effective ally against the Shadow. However, I would hate to think that they would all be wiped out because they chose not to leave: I am actually quite eager to see baby Loials running around, much more so than baby Rands! :D

2. It's been a while since the last surprise trolloc attack.  Who could have been behind this one?  Why now, and why so incredibly many?  Lews Therin took control of Rand's channeling.  Will we see that again, and what kind of consequences might it have?

A much more suspicious person might see Verin’s disappearance at about the same time as a huge clue to the identity of the attacker. However, Verin continues to be a help to Rand and has not yet done anything to hurt him, as far as I can remember. This makes me very reluctant to think that she might be behind the attack. However, she does warn Rand not to trust any Sister apart from Cadsuane, which seems like a rather large hint that a Black Sister could be behind the attack. We already know that Elza is not to be trusted, so perhaps she is the culprit. However, I am not sure what she would gain from the attack, nor how she could have organized it whilst remaining glued to Rand’s side. This leaves us with the usual option in these cases: one of the Forsaken. It seems unlikely to be Moridin, who wants Rand alive for some reason, but there are still plenty of other options.

In this case, Lews Therin was actually very useful in killing Trollocs and teaching everyone some interesting new ways to wage war. His weaves may leave a bit of a mess, but they certainly seem to be effective at mowing down the enemy. However, I can see how Rand might be more than a little wary of letting Lews Therin take control: next time it could be Aes Sedai, Asha’man or anyone else in the way that get ripped into tiny, bloody pieces. I definitely feel that Rand needs to do something about Lews Therin, but I have no idea what that should be. The ideal situation would be for him to come to some sort of understanding with the man so that they can share his body in some way. We have seen Mat integrate his ancient memories relatively successfully, so I hope that Rand can do something similar. 

3. Lan departs to fight his own war, but Nynaeve won't let him do it alone.  Any thoughts on the actions of either?  Any chills during the scene in the inn?

Oh, Lan, are you off to renew ‘The Blade That Was Broken’? Sometimes Lan’s similarity to Aragorn is a little too obvious, I think, although Arwen is NOTHING like Nynaeve! :D

As with Aragorn, it has always seemed very important that Lan is the last King of a dead kingdom that holds a massively important geographical position in the defense against the Shadow. Whilst it would be very cozy to see him follow Nynaeve around for the rest of the series, we now see him striking out on his own to reclaim his birthright and, no doubt, save the world by being terribly heroic and noble. That seems fitting and appropriate for a man of his talents, so I can hardly say that he should not do it.

As for Nynaeve: she has learnt a great deal about being Aes Sedai in the last few months: she does exactly as he asks, but in her own way. However, her intervention will give the other Malkieri time to gather an army to join him, which makes it much more likely that he will not face hundreds of thousands of Shadowspawn all by himself. It was a crafty move, but showed great wisdom and forethought from Nynaeve.

4. Rand again works his ta'veren magic and the rebellion in Tear is no more.  Darlin, who was a rebel not four books ago, is king.  Do you think he has sufficiently demonstrated his loyalty, or are you worried?  Rand is focusing on Arad Doman.  What do you think his plan there is?

I think that both Darlin and Caraline Damodred are trustworthy and proved their loyalty during the attack by Padan Fain on the rebel camp. I can understand why some nobles would be unhappy at some nobody from nowhere showing up and claiming to be the Dragon Reborn whilst conquering their nation. After meeting Rand in the flesh, they seem to have been persuaded that he is the real deal and are now willing to do what is best for the good of the rest of their people. If only more of the nobility could behave so sensibly in this world!

We know that Arad Doman is a huge mess at the moment, with multiple factions fighting against one another and starvation adding to the mix. I guess that Rand will try to unite the area to prevent further needless deaths and provide yet another ally for the Last Battle. I am not sure how he intends to do that, but we know that he has deployed Asha’man all over the region, so perhaps he intends to produce a massive show of force in order to scare everyone sensible.

5. The Sea Folk have chosen a new Mistress of the Ships and are being conscripted for the Arad Doman plan.  Meanwhile, a whole race of islanders commit suicide!  Where on Earth did that come from? Will it have any impact at all or is it just one of those... things?

We know that they lived on the island of Tremalking. The only other thing that I know about the island is that it was the site of the giant female statue that Nynaeve tapped into whilst she and Rand cleansed saidin. Given that she drew incredible amounts of Power through it, perhaps it glowed brightly or something and the locals took it to be a signal for the end of the world or something similar. Otherwise I have no idea at all.

As I am not sure what role the Amayar played in even Sea Folk life, I have no idea what effect their mass suicide will have. It certainly seems very tragic, but it may have no direct effect at all unless they were highly significant in some way that the Sea Folk keep secret.

6. An important sitting is called and the rebel Aes Sedai finally learn some important news (Saidin is clean, and they've been harboring a Saidin-channeling female forsaken for six books).  Are you happy that Halima was rooted out?  Sad that they weren't caught?  Will they rethink their Asha'man policy now?

I was expecting a little more vomiting from the Sisters at the news that a Forsaken had been living amongst them and wielding saidin at will.

How can anyone NOT be happy that Halima is finally revealed? Hopefully she and her slutty dresses will be hunted down and Egwene can balefire her into a teeny, tiny pile of ashes for all those intimate massages that gave me the creeps! I suppose that it was lucky that nobody tried to stop them leaving because Halima would have cheerfully zapped as many people as necessary to make her escape. At least now they can attack her in the full knowledge of her ability to wield saidin and take along a bunch of Asha’man to deal with her.

As for the policy of Bonding Asha’man: I would hope that this would encourage the Aes Sedai to be a little more pragmatic and practical. However, we know that the Sisters are as stubborn as mules and as easily led as an entire herd of cats, so I doubt that we will see much change there. It would be so much easier if the Bonding was more equal and did not confer a master-servant relationship. Then perhaps more on both sides would be willing to make the connection.

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

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Knife of Dreams by Robert Jordan: Week 3

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 12.

1) We finally get more details on Aludra's plans with the elusive bell founders and all. Do you see this plan succeeding? What will it mean for the Last Battle? How will it play out?

I think we has all pretty much guessed what she wanted the bell founder for, but we have the advantage of already knowing what a cannon looks like so we did have a bit of an advantage over poor Mat. We also know that cannons are very effective weapons even today, although they are certainly more sophisticated these days, so I expect Aludra’s dragons to be very dangerous in battle. Of course, we do not know if the various channelers can learn to counteract them by producing barriers of some sort or using gateways to remove them from the field of battle, but I suspect that they will be very deadly the first few times they are deployed.

The only real problems that I can imagine are the practical issues of manufacturing them in large numbers and then transporting them into position. This culture seems to be fairly good at using carts, wagons and teams of horses, so I am sure that they can work out how to transport the dragons if they can get them built. The other major issue will be the problem of friendly fire, but we have already seen the channelers having the same trouble when engaging in a confusing battle.

2) Mistress Anan finally reveals some of her past. Were you surprised by anything she said? 

I think that it was pretty obvious, even before this, that she was an Aes Sedai at some point. The fact that she could not channel suggested that she had accidentally burned herself out rather than being Stilled, because she had not succumbed to the depression associated with that. She knew far too much about the Tower and its customs and rituals to be anything else and basically carried herself like a full Sister, even more so than the Kin. The fact that she attributes her survival to the love of a good man also sounds typical of such cases.

I seem to remember mention of a Sister who was burned out that trying to study ter’angreal: she was mentioned many, many books ago when Verin gave the Super Girls the dream ring. This also fits with her intense fascination for Mat’s foxhead medallion, which is much stronger than that shown by the other Sisters and probably explains why she knows details about Cadsuane’s collection of ter’angreal.

3) We saw tons of Mat and Tuon this week. From her snapping a'dam onto Aes Sedai necks to finding out she might have had her siblings assassinated to seeing Suroth's plan to declare her an impostor and have her killed in action to participating in a knife fight for/with her, Mat had his hands full. Feel free to comment on any part of this story line. What stood out to you, shocked you, delighted you? Where do you think it will go from here? What repercussions will it have? 

I have to say that I was rather happy to see her slap those a’dam onto the Aes Sedai. Whilst I abhor the idea of the devices and how they are used, it was certainly a reasonable response to such ignorant and bullying behavior from the Sisters. I am afraid to admit that I quite enjoy seeing Aes Sedai being reminded that they are not infallible or all knowing! :D

I was not surprised to find out about the infighting in the Imperial family, nor at Suroth’s decision to remove Tuon. The Seanchan ruling class is very hierarchical and totally ruthless, so I would expect such behavior from them. The same could also be said of Tuon’s ability to fight. Just as with Berelain, she has been taught that she cannot always depend on others to defend her and has been trained to fight without a weapon to hand.

I find that I am growing to really like Tuon, mainly because she is such a fun character to read. I think Mat is winning her over, and they will get together in the near future and produce lots of incredibly annoying and hardheaded children!

4) A Shiota ghost town makes a rather disturbing appearance in Mat's life. What do you think was the cause of it, and what does it mean for our characters?

This was a truly horrible image, what with the screaming horses and everything. I would not have criticized the circus folk if they had voted to turn around and run screaming in the opposite direction.

It seems to be yet another ‘bubble’ of the dead appearing, which seems to indicate that the Dark One is near to breaking through into this world. I can only assume that such incidents will become more frequent and more intense as he gets even closer. I cannot say that I am looking forward to any other similar events . . .

5) Apparently Mat, Thom, and Noal might be setting out to rescue Moiraine. Were you surprised by this, or by what was finally revealed to be in her letter to Thom? Do you think they can succeed?

I had a sneaking suspicion that she was not dead. If we agree with most of the other Chosen in believing that Cyndane is Lanfear reborn, then we know that it is possible to return from wherever they went. I believe that Min had a viewing at one point that Rand would need the help of a woman who had already died and Egwene had a dream of Thom pulling Moiraine’s hair gem out of a fire. Both of these were quite some time ago, but seemed to add to the evidence that our favorite meddling Blue would ‘do a Gandalf’ and reappear just in time to save the world. Although I am not sure that she will now be Moiraine the White! :D

I think that I was much more surprised by the obvious affection in the letter and that she is actually expressing it openly. I do not remember any suggestion of a romance between the two before her death, so this was somewhat of a surprise. I can only assume that she saw it during her first trip through the red doorframe and spent quite some time thinking about the implications before accepting that it would not be so terrible. Personally, I think that they will make an awesome couple!

6) Someone tried to assassinate Perrin. Who do you think it was and why? What do you think of how things are going with his alliance with the Seanchan? Will their forkroot plan work?

I suppose the most obvious candidate would be Masema, but it could be just a Darkfriend and we know that they exist even amongst the Seanchan. Politics amongst the Blood could also suggest agents working against Tylee Khirgan, but it does seem to be an attack aimed directly at Perrin, so this is less likely. My money remains on Masema, mainly because he is as crazy as a rabid ferret.

I am quite sure that the forkroot plan will be a massive success, Sevanna and many Shaido will die or be captured and Faile will return to making Perrin’s life miserable! :D

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Knife of Dreams 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 7.

1) Beonin, Ashmanaille, & Phaedrine chat about theories on who the channeling male murderer is. Did you enjoy Beonin's logic? Do you think other Aes Sedai are drawing the same conclusions? Will such assumptions and conclusions hinder Rand's plans in preparing for the Last Battle?

I suppose that Beonin has come to some fairly sensible conclusions, given the limited information that she has to work with. She is unaware that a male Forsaken is wandering around camp in a female body, so she can hardly be faulted for not spotting the person who seems to be the most likely culprit. However, I do think that she carries her deductions a little too far and ignores the obvious problem of motive: what would a male channeler have to gain from the murders of these particular women?

We all know that the Aes Sedai each have their own interpretation of the world and are rather reluctant to accept anything else: this alone will give Rand a very difficult time in persuading them to do anything. However, some powerful Sisters see the value in supporting him in the last Battle, primarily I am thinking of Egwene and Cadsuane, but even some of the Reds see the sense of at least trying to survive Tarmon Gai’don and recognize his importance to that effort. Rand will struggle with the Aes Sedai no matter what else happens, and I doubt that this will add significantly to his woes: after all, it is going to be like herding cats anyway! :D

2) Elaida had thought to show the world her power by snatching a monarch in the night and she plans to show even greater power by putting that monarch back on his royal seat. Do you think Mattin Stepaneos, king of Illian, will be cooperative? What other setbacks to Elaida's plan can you predict?

I have to say that he did not sound awfully cooperative during his determined ranting session. To be honest, he sounds fearful to me and this is likely to make him irrational and uncooperative with everyone, not just Elaida. I have to admit that I did enjoy his rant, even though he finally ran out of steam, because it was so good to hear someone giving Elaida a good telling off! :D

Elaida’s plans have so many holes in them that it is difficult to know where to begin. Firstly, Rand is never, ever, ever, ever, ever, EVER going to cooperate with her, so that is just delusional on her part. Nobody is going to bend his knee to a woman who had him tortured and locked in a chest for weeks on end. Secondly, she has as much chance of reuniting the Tower as my cat has of writing a sequel to War and Peace: mainly because everyone hates her and thinks she is an idiot. Thirdly, Egwene is now in the Tower and she is going to start looking more and more like the true Amyrlin as she withstands Elaida’s petty punishments and tries to undo the damage caused by the coup. Fourthly, Elaida discounts Egwene’s Dream of the Seanchan attack as impossible . . . which strikes me as the usual prelude to exactly that kind of thing happening.

I could go on, but that seems like enough to keep Elaida busy for now, even though she has no idea that these are issues that she needs to address. Oh dear, what a shame! :D

3) Once again the Forsaken get together for a tickle and tell dinner party. We saw some new technology on display. Do you think we will see further advanced tech and in more prominent use as the series continues? Do you think Moiridin can keep them all in line?

We keep hearing about things called stasis boxes, which I have to assume keep things in some form of suspended animation until they are opened. I guess the only limit to the technology that we will encounter is that these boxes may have been in limited supply, and only for personal use, which means that they contain almost random items. It seems unlikely that they were used to lay down caches of useful supplies for a future war if they contained such items as the zomara and streith cloth: neither of which are anything other than luxuries. I guess that the Forsaken can recognize such boxes and know how to open them, but they are much like random items of mail, or safety deposit boxes, and will probably contain very little that they find directly useful.

We are back to herding cats again! Moridin has control over Lanfear and Moghedien because of the mind-traps, but even that will vanish if they ever take the traps from him. As for the rest: they are all convinced that they have a shot of becoming the Nae’blis if they can just get rid of Moridin. This selfish delusion is one of the major reasons why the Shadow is destined to fall before the cooperative forces of Light. I guess that it will be fun to see how they work against one another and ultimately ruin the excellent chance that they have of ruling the world forever. It is interesting to note that Aran’gar is even determined to go against the strict order not to harm Rand: such reckless individualism is not a good way to survive for long in the service of the Dark One! :D  

4) Perrin meets with the Seanchan. Were you impressed with his display of martial capability? What about that sulfur stench? Even if this plan goes off without a hitch, do you see continued friendly relationships between Perrin's forces and the Seanchan?

In many ways, Perrin seems to show the fewest ta’veren qualities of the three lads, but here we see that he is destined for greatness: he has a fine military mind and knows how to use his forces to the best advantage. He certainly impressed the seasoned leaders of the Seanchan, so he must be pretty good.

I got the impression that the sulfur stench was similar to the one mentioned in Chapter One, and is just a manifestation of the Dark One’s power increasing. My geography of Randland is not that good, so I am not sure if it could even be the same wind moving across the land.

It seems to me that Rand and the Seanchan will need to ally for the Last Battle, although this is most likely to occur via Mat and Tuon. However, I suspect that Perrin’s honest bravery will impress the Seanchan that he fights alongside, and they will be quite happy to maintain friendly relations after the Shaido are destroyed. Of course, Masema might have a hand in creating a rift there, so I am not completely convinced that everything will be happy and cozy from now on.

I have to say that I am very disturbed by Aram’s ‘conversion’ to Masema’s way of seeing the world. I predict that this will end badly for everyone involved.

5) Faile has a lot of decisions to make, and soon. She is determined to escape before Perrin can attempt a rescue; she has the Oath Rod; Galina appears near breaking; and Rolan is still putting flowers in her hair. Will her actions muck up Perrin's rescue? Will Galina's duplicity be undone? Will Rolan get even one romantic night, one which will never be spoken of again?

I doubt that she will jeopardize the rescue plan too much, but there is a good chance that her actions will increase the tension and risk involved in getting her out of the camp safely. We know that Galina has absolutely no intention of doing as Perrin asked, so that part of his plan will fail anyway, although I am not sure how vital that will be to the overall outcome. I sincerely hope that Galina remains as Therava’s plaything for the rest of her miserable natural life: she deserves it for her treatment of Rand if nothing else.

Unfortunately, I do not think that things will end well for Rolan. I doubt that Faile is the type to have a quick, ‘no regrets’, night of passion and then forget about it, no matter how many flowers he puts into her hair. I suspect that he will play a pivotal role in the escape and then get killed by ‘friendly fire’ of some type because he is mistaken for an enemy Shaido. Poor guy! :(

6) Mat has bought a new horse, razor breed, and given Tuon a pet name (Precious) to counter her little pet name for him (Toy). And then we learn that Noal is related to Jain Farstrider! Guesses as to why Noal has such strong feelings on the adventures of his cousin?

I wondered if the new horse was for Tuon, although I am not sure why she would want a horse that looks an awful lot like a zebra! :D

Of the romance plot lines that we have had to endure, I think that this one is probably my favorite. Mat is honestly in love with Tuon, as we can see from his reaction to her simply smiling at him, and he is trying to earn her respect. This is doubly impressive because Mat has been so much of a playboy up until now: I love the way that he is baffled by where Olver learnt to leer at women! Compared to all the Faile-Berelain garbage, Egwene giggling over Gawyn and Rand’s polygamy, this is perhaps the most normal of all the relationships that we have seen developing.

I think that it is pretty obvious that Noal IS Jain Farstrider. ‘Noal’ is obviously describing things that he has seen with his own eyes and his broken body testifies to a long life of adventuring. The way that he calmly fought the gholam showed that he was a man very comfortable with the strange and unusual, and possibly even the supernatural. I thought it was also obvious that the terrible regret about his wife was personal and not the disparagement of a relative as he claimed. I am not clear as to when the book was written, so I am not sure if Jain could still feasibly be alive, though it is possible that he is bound to the Wheel of Time and has been reborn like Birgitte.

7) Mat's little ter'angreal secret is out and the Aes Sedai traveling with the circus are VERY curious. Do you think this will cause a problem later? Bethamin, a former sul'dam, channeled some powerful weave, to her great distress. Could she turn out to be a powerful Aes Sedai in the future?

I suspect that anything revealed to Aes Sedai has the potential to cause problems at a later date, but this one could actually have positive repercussions. Apart from allowing people to move safely against channelers, we know that the medallion is the only thing that is effective against the gholam. As I am absolutely sure that we will see his horrible oozy body again, I would suspect that Mat will want everyone he cares about to have a copy of the medallion to keep them safe. Of course, this means that he needs to get to Elayne, who is likely to be the only person who can replicate it for him.

It makes sense that Bethamin could be very powerful in the future. Her culture has effectively placed a block on her ability to channel, but we have seen such blocks give way to produce very powerful channelers, such as Nynaeve. I hope that she embraces her ability and learns to use it safely. Hopefully she can become a type of ambassador for the other sul’dam and help to break the tradition of the use of a’dam.

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