Sunday, June 30, 2013

The Shadow Rising Read-Along, Week 5



Welcome to week 5 of The Shadow Rising Read-Along. This week we read chapters 24-30. Remember that all chapters in this section as well as anything that came before is game for spoilers, so read at your own risk. :D


Redstone Doorframe in Rhuidean
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1. What is it with Mat and doorway ter'angreals? These foxy people certainly seem very similar to the snake people, but with subtle differences. Any ideas about why they decided to hang Mat and what his new medallion does?

It's hard to say, yet, what he did wrong. The fox people talked less about answering questions and more about an agreement and price needing to be paid. When he didn't get the answers to his questions, he said that he wanted the holes in his memory filled and to be away from them and back to Rhuidean, and also to be away from Aes Sedai. It was right after he said these things that they said 'done.' Perhaps the snake people answered questions, but the fox people do something more along the lines of granting requests. But, obviously, the price is high and they take it whether you want them to or not. What happens to Mat hereafter (especially the medallion) will probably have something to do with these unwitting requests.

Rhuidean
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2. Now that we have been into Rhuidean, were you surprised by the city within the mists or did you expect something different? What do you think has happened to the Jenn Aiel?

I don't know what I expected the first time through, but I really love the way he describes Rhuidean. It's somewhat reminiscent of the ruins of Shadar Logoth, except that it has all those angreal and ter'angreal lining the streets. The description is just very vivid and I loved it! It's hard to know, when they first enter the city, what has happened to the Jenn. It just seems to be that either they died off or left. But it becomes more clear as Rand learns the reverse history of the Aiel between the glass columns.

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3. The history of the Aiel is revealed to be very complex. Were you surprised to discover that they were originally a people sworn to non-violence and that the Traveling People were actually an offshoot from the original Aiel? 

Yes. I remember being very surprised the first time. That was most unexpected, but also kind of awesome. It explains why the Traveling People are always allowed to cross the Waste un-harassed. I think the Aiel were more an offshoot of the Tinkers than the other way around, but this also answers the question of what happened to the Jenn. They set up Rhuidean so that the Aiel (at least the Wise Ones and Clan Chiefs) would always understand their history and it wouldn't be lost. They must have done that because they knew they wouldn't be around much longer to convey the history to the people.

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4. Could you have stood aside, like the Jenn Aiel did, and allowed your friends and family to be murdered or attacked without raising a hand in violence? What do you think of those Aiel who broke their vow of non-violence? 

Nope. I'm with the Aiel. Violence always as a last resort but when it comes to sacred things like the protection of family or sacred beliefs, violence is sometimes necessary to preserve a way of life. I thought the part of the history where those boys went and saved their sister and were exiled because of it was terribly sad. I really felt for those boys. If it had been me, I would have been proud of them for being heroic enough to take action and not allow evil men to get away with terrible crimes. The deaths they caused were textbook self-defense, which in my book means they were more than justifiable.

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5. Perrin encounters a strange woman, who seems to know a great deal about the Wolf Dream and the two races beyond the doorways, the Aelfinn and the Eelfinn. She seems familiar: is she someone that we have already met, as she suggests? What do you think about the ability to reach their dimension directly from tel'aran'rhiod?

Yeah we've seen her before, though only briefly a couple of books ago. We'll see more of her as the story progresses. I really loved the way Jordan incorporated both her and the "shadow of a man with the hilts of two swords rising above his shoulders." Very interesting. I think it's kind of fitting that there's a doorway to the realms of the Aelfinn and Eelfin from T'A'R because when Mat was there, he described it very much as you would a dream: kind of fluid, abstract, intangible. The beings themselves might be the stuff of dreams or nightmares, so it makes sense to have a doorway from the world of dreams. It also makes me think of the Portal stones and all the worlds Jordan never had a chance to go into that might have similar doorways from different places. Jordan sure outdid himself figuring all this out. :D

Tower of Genji
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6. Perrin's homecoming is far from happy. Were you surprised by what he discovered? Also, did Faile react in the way you expected? Were the people in the old cottage who you expected?

It was very sad. In a way, though we knew the Two Rivers was in danger, and that the Aybarras especially would be in danger, it was still shocking to heard that they were actually dead. You just don't expect something so tragic and final. As I suspected, the stubborn oneupsmanship between Perrin and Faile melted away when tragedy struck, and I thought she was just what he needed at such a time. The people weren't who I expected. In fact, I totally forgot about this detail until I read it. I couldn't remember who Marin was taking him to, but I thought it must be Tam and Abel. That's probably what Jordan intended, and he did a good job throwing a twist in. 

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Extras:

I love, Love, LOVE the way the wolves talk! It always makes me smile.
"Her? A she? Hopper stood, looking around. Where?" and "May you know good hunting, Young Bull, and shes to give you many cubs." (pgs. 463-4)
It's almost part American indian, but coming from a wolf, it just makes me laugh.

Also, I totally LOVED the history of the Aiel. One of my favorite parts of the entire series. It could potentially have been very tricky and confusing, but Jordan did such a good job with it. So much emotion and you could just see the unbroken bloodline reaching across the ages, all the way back to Lanfear and the Bore being drilled. Awesome stuff! (This is why Jordan and his series are legendary. :D

So, how is everyone else liking it?

5 comments :

  1. Oh, I love that picture of Birgitte. She's one of my favourites :D.

    As for the "Finnland" and T'A'R... this doorway also exists in the real world, does it not? I think the Tower of Ghenjei in T'A'R is a reflection of the real one just like everything else is, and I don't know of any explicit connection between T'A'R and it.

    And yes, I mentioned this before, but I love that the wolves aren't simply people with four feet and fur, but truly alien in their own way.

    I'm also with you on the Aiel history. These two chapters are some of the finest I've ever read. They get me every time.

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    1. I agree with you about the wolves. It is so difficult to convey totally alien mindsets, and yet Mr Jordan manages it so well again and again.

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  2. I love the picture of Rand standing over Mat - back in the days before CPR. Tho, Rand eventually gets around to pounding on Mat's chest. Now, remember, if you are doing it right, you have a good chance of breaking some ribs. Would remind Mat of his foolery for a bit longer than the walk back to camp.

    I totally had it wrong who Perrin was chatting with. I thought it was Lanfear again and I was just waiting for Hopper to attempt to rip her throat out. Birgitte makes much more sense.

    I too loved the way Jordan unfolded the ancient history of the Aiel. Very excellently done.

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    1. I would LOVE to see Hopper give Lanfear a good mauling! :D

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  3. 2. I hadn't made the link to Shadar Logoth, but you're right, which makes me wonder if they were built at about the same time.

    3. Great point about the Jenn Aiel realizing that they would not last forever. That is so sad, and yet it adds a nobility to their actions that is very profound.

    5. Yet again, I hadn't noticed that Mat mentioned a dream-like quality to the Finn world(s) - it's a good thing that you are re-reading with us and pointing out all this interesting stuff! :D

    I also love Hopper and his dry sense of humor. Reading the wolves makes me understand why I love my dogs so much!

    The chapters in Rhuidean were so concise and yet so bursting with detail that I was in awe even as I read them . . . no wonder this series has been held in such high regard for so long.

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