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.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Towers of Midnight 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 the Chapter 20.

1. Egwene gets Nynaeve and Elayne to agree to obey her as Amyrlin. Then she slays a member of the Black Ajah and catches a glimpse of Alviarin. What do you think Alviarin is up to these days. How big a part will she continue to play? How will this turn of events change the relationship between our girls?

I have to assume that Alviarin is desperately trying to gain approval from Mesaana by killing Egwene. At the very least her spying will gain useful information, but only so long as she is unnoticed. I presume that her exposure this time will make it very unlikely that she will be able to do very much productive from now on. I suspect that her days of being an influential player are behind her, but one good shot in Tel’aran’rhiod could be all that she needs to regain her status.

Hopefully this incident will finally convince both Elayne and Nynaeve that Egwene is the Amyrlin in more than name. They have not witnessed her remarkable transformation over the last few months, so it is probably quite good that they have had the chance to see her in action. They are the ones most likely to find it difficult to accept her status, so their compliance is vital.

2. Nynaeve heals madness. Will she be able to heal Rand? Does she even need to?

I am beginning to wonder if there is anything that Nynaeve cannot Heal if she decides to, although it seems that Rand’s madness would defeat her if she tried. It is rather fortunate that the Light has somehow formed a barrier between it and his mind so that she can leave him alone without worrying.

Removing the madness from the Asha’man could be a very significant step in the preparations for the Last Battle. However, I wonder if Taim and his supporters will be cooperative . . . they have been far too quiet recently.

3. Sounds like Egwene wants to use herself as bait to capture Mesaana. Do you think this is wise? Will it work? Will she and Gawyn ever be married?

Yes and yes! :D

Mesaana is a formidable opponent and so Egwene has to outwit and outpower the Forsaken. Somehow or other she has managed to circumvent the Oath Rod test, although that could be something as simple as her not thinking of herself as a Darkfriend. We know that the Aes Sedai all seem to be able to bend the truth without breaking their oaths by being very selective about their wording, so there may have been no convoluted trick to Mesaana’s ability to pass the test.

Of course Egwene is going to trap Mesaana and burn her into a crispy crisp: at the moment she seems all powerful and becoming even more awesome every time we meet her! She will also marry Gawyn eventually, but I suspect that it will be a much longer road and more difficult that killing one of the Forsaken.

4. Ituralde seems to be in big trouble in the Borderlands. Do you think Rand will come through for him and keep his promise?

I sincerely hope so, as I like the Little Wolf. I am not sure that Rand will get there in time, but I am very disappointed that the Saldaeans in Maradon are sitting on their hands at the moment. You would think that they might be enclined to assist someone who is fighting off the massive waves of Shadowspawn heading towards their city, but obviously I am not Saldaean enough! Hopefully they will finally decide to help out and defend themselves by helping Ituralde’s forces before they are completely minced.

5. Berelain and Faile have a heart to heart. Do you think their plan will work to dispel the rumors? Can they pull it off when they hate one another so much?

As they discussed all the alternatives that I could think of and showed how none of them would work, I hope that this one will help the situation. Whilst I can understand Faile’s desire to tear off Berelain’s head and then use it as a football, it would certainly not stop the rumors from circulating. I also agree with her that the First allowed this stupidity to go on for far too long in the face of complete disinterest from her ‘prize’. I am afraid that I cannot have any sympathy for someone who decides to steal another woman’s husband just because it seems like a good idea at the time. It is very obvious that Berelain has no real romantic interest in Perrin, and her motivation for trying to tear him away from Faile is beyond me.

I know that I could never succeed in hiding my intense dislike of Berelain if I were Faile, so I hope that she is a much better actor than I am. Perhaps she will be able to give herself hope by searching for a nice gullible man to divert Berelain’s attention from Perrin. However, I am not sure where she will find a suitable candidate as nobody has proved an obvious choice in Perrin’s merry band. Perhaps she will swoon when she meets Galad . . . although the prospect of the world’s two most beautiful people falling for each other makes me want to vomit! :D

6. What do you think of Mat and Elayne's contract about Aludra's dragons. Will this work? Cause contention?

This seems like a very sensible compromise. It gives them both what the want and need so it is likely to work out quite well. I suspect that Mat will eventually become Elayne’s general once she leads the forces of both Andor and Cairhien into the Last Battle, but he will not be happy about the responsibility.

I have to say that I am really enjoying Mr Sanderson’s Mat chapters: he gives the lad a much funnier voice than the one supplied by Mr Jordan. I particularly like Mat’s constant mental womanizing: I wonder if that will continue once Tuon returns to his immediate are.

7. Share your thoughts--anything that stood out to you--on Nynaeve's testing and her finally obtaining Lan's bond.

Good grief: they really do not want much from Nynaeve do they? We already had some idea of what would happen in the testing because of New Spring, but their determination to push her harder than any other candidate proves how stupid this is as a method for testing competence. If those administering the test can alter it so dramatically then it is massively unfair and open to corruption. I was not overly surprised that Lelaine tried to prove her power by voting against Nynaeve because she did not stick strictly to the rules. Good grief: she destroyed their shield blocking her ability to channel when not in position on the symbols and then gave them a demonstration of superior weave handling. I can only assume that their negative votes are based mostly upon anger and jealousy.

I was actually expecting that Nynaeve would punch Myrelle in the face: it is ironic that she controlled her anger so well in this situation after the testing debacle. She truly is Aes Sedai and I am glad that she finally has her link to Lan. They deserve it and have waited long enough for it to become a reality.

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.

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