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 1.
1. Eamon Valda finally buys it, and Galad is now (at least de jure) Lord Captain Commander. Do you think he will be able to muster the children and fight back in any meaningful way? Or is this effectively the end of the order?
Hang on whilst I get out the world smallest violin to play a sad tune for his passing . . . followed by a happy dance number to express my sympathies . . . :D
I have to admit that I was somewhat surprised by this opening. Not only had I almost forgotten about Valda, Galad and the whole Whitecloak mess, but also I was rather more concerned by the “Egwene being taken captive” storyline! However, it was nice to see Galad and some of the other Whitecloaks do something decent and honorable: they have almost made me not hate the whole order for their overbearing self-righteousness. I almost cheered when he talked about ignoring the Seanchan ‘threat’ and concentrating on the real danger of the Dark One and the Last Battle . . . it is good to see some leaders finally taking notice of the bigger picture and actually doing something constructive.
The reactions of most of the men present actually make me optimistic that he will be able to rally the whole order behind his intention to support Rand. It seems as if most of the normal soldiers sincerely want to fight against the Shadow and will be happiest working with other people who share that goal, at least until the Last Battle is settled. I have to assume that there will be dissenters, such as Asunawa, but I hope that they will be in a tiny minority and we can finally see the Children doing something overtly good. My only concern is that Galad may not foresee treachery from some of the more sneaky members of the Order, but he seems to be more than capable of being ruthless when necessary.
We know that Galad is Rand’s half-brother, and I am inclined to think that he may be ta’veren in some small way. I also wonder if he can channel: his description of his fight with Valda seemed eerily similar to some of Rand’s early uses of the Flame and the Void.
2. The Seanchan suffer some shocking defeats at the hands of Ituralde. Suroth is furious and sends away almost all the air scouts. Will this help Mat out? What do you think is in the future for Ituralde?
Again I reach for my tiny violin . . .
Suroth is so wonderfully over confident: I can hardly wait for Tuon to return and wipe the floor with her! It seems that her complacency and lack of respect for her opponents has affected the discipline of the whole army: their lack of distrust and suspicion of the Randlanders has left them very vulnerable. Oh dear, what a shame! Unfortunately, I think it is only a matter of time before someone comes across Mat and drags him before some aspect of the Seanchan government, and this increased vigilance will only increase the chance that he and Tuon will be discovered. Of course, Tuon will be a large factor in his survival after that, so I am not sure if this will be a bad thing or not: getting Tuon in charge of the Return instead of Suroth will be a huge improvement for the forces of Light.
I suspect that Ituralde will be at least five steps ahead of anyone that Suroth sends against him: he reminds me very much of Davram Bashere in that respect. I think we will see him in action for a long time to come, and that the Seanchan will become allies with Rand long before they get close to defeating him.
3. Semirhage has been busy in Seandar, and Seanchan as we know it (or more accurately, didn't know it), has ceased to exist. Without support from their homeland, do you think the return is now doomed (in the long term)? Might this force them into accepting an alliance with Rand, once it becomes known?
I am pretty sure that the Empress and the Royal Family were all back-stabbing and unpleasant people, so I cannot work up very much sympathy for them personally. However, this does effectively remove a massive potential ally for the forces of Light in Randland. I doubt that the Return is doomed, simply because the Seanchan are amazingly proficient and well organized, but it all depends upon who gets to take control: Suroth or Tuon.
If Tuon wins out, and declares herself Empress, I can see this making an alliance much more likely and infinitely more successful. In fact, this could strengthen Tuon’s hold over the Seanchan because she will be their one remaining rallying point. If Suroth wins, which I suspect is very unlikely in the long term, it will be a Very Bad Thing.
4. The Black Ajah hunters have stalled, and Pevara is now being sent away on a mission to bond Asha'aman. Talene managed to hide, but Alviarin is still on the right track. Where do you see this storyline going?
This just goes to prove how effective the Black’s method of working in small ‘hearts’ is at preventing the whole organization being uncovered by a single capture. It is strangely satisfying to see the Bad Guys actually doing something sensible for a change! :D
With the Hunters at a dead end and Alviarin closing in on some of the Blacks that they have already uncovered, it is simply a matter of chance as to who wins in this situation. I hope that it is not Alviarin, but I am not sure how the Hunters can avoid exposure now that they have run out of leads. Perhaps Egwene’s arrival will shake things up enough to disrupt everyone’s plans.
5. Of all the things that could happen between Galina and Perrin, what were you wishing for? Do you suppose she succeeded in stalling him?
I suppose him putting his axe between her eyes was a little too much to expect from him, especially now that he has left it stuck in a tree somewhere. However, I was rather hoping that he would not let her return to the Shaido camp so easily. I wonder if Berelain recognized her, which would certainly change Perrin’s attitude towards her advice, but it was difficult to tell.
I doubt that the encounter has significantly altered his plans at all. I suspect that he plans to use forkroot to remove the Wise Ones from the battle when he attacks: there have been too many mentions of the aqueducts and water supply for it to be a coincidence. I suspect that the person he is planning to meet is a representative of the Seanchan, and the Shaido Wise Ones would be a handsome reward for their help in breaking the Aiel threat.
6. Egwene has been installed as a novice again, and sees advantages in her situation. How badly do you think will Elaida regret not having her tried? Is Egwene right in refusing rescue? And do you think she will manage to hold the rebellion together by proxy (in tel'aran'rhiod)?
Elaida will regret many of her decisions when she finally realizes what a total mess she has made of things and how much she actually aided the Dark One in his plans. This is just one more misstep amongst many, but it will prove to be her downfall.
Egwene is quite right to refuse rescue, because she is now in a perfect position to undermine Elaida whilst working to win the respect of all the other Sisters in the Tower. Simply by being seen free and walking around the grounds, she will be a constant reminder of Elaida’s folly. Her warnings about the Seanchan attack will also win her considerable respect and support: especially when Elaida inevitably ignores them.
I suspect that the rebels will hold together long enough for the Tower to reunite, but it will probably be more difficult than getting rid of Elaida! :D