Sunday, November 17, 2013

Lord of Chaos Read-Along, Week 5


Welcome to week 5 of our Lord of Chaos Read-Along! For today we read chapters 17-24. Remember that everything in this section as well as everything that's come before is fair game for *spoilers* so read at your own risk!

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1. We get to see a little of how Cairhien is working with Berelain in charge. Wetlanders trying to apply ji’e’toh: can this end well? What did you think of Rand’s decision to execute Mangin?

I don't see what harm it can do on it's own. The only way it would end badly is if the Aiel get pissed, decide they've had enough, and start killing everyone who's doing it wrong. Granted, that may be a real possibility. This shows Jordan's genius-of-observation skills. People do this all the time! They take something they like, apply to themselves, and most often get it completely wrong, even though they think they have it right. They see someone work out on TV, for instance, and decide they like the idea. So they do fifty crunches and then don't understand why they don't look like that fitness model. This is just human nature, applied to Randland.

The Mangin situation was a tough one. I can see it both ways. If Rand had shown clemency, I don't think many would have judged him for it, but he was also right that if he didn't enforce his own rules, other nobles would see it as weakness and try to find a way to exploit it. All rulers have to deal with that. Doesn't make it pleasant, though.

Not the best pic, but it's supposed to be Erith
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2. Ogiers, Shadar Logoth and a missing Aiel, oh my! How great was it to meet some more Ogiers, especially Elder Haman and Loial’s mother? Do you think it was wise for Rand to take so many Aiel with them? Oh, and how do you think Loial will react to his reunion with Erith?

Yeah for Ogiers! I loved seeing the two lady-Ogiers ganging up on Elder Haman. Sort of felt bad for him, actually, but it was fun to watch. Also interesting to see him go back to Shadar Logoth. Probably not where anyone expected the story to go. I don't think Rand had much choice in taking so many with him, as the Maidens are prickly as ever about their honor. This missing-Maiden plot will actually come back into the story, but not for a while. As for Loial, well, he didn't seem too terribly averse to Erith herself, but he really doesn't want to get married and go back to the Stedding, so I imagine he'll have mixed feelings.

Mat and his men
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3. A group of dead Tinkers, complete with ominous message, and Travelling groups of Aiel assassins. Any suggestions as to who is responsible for these two incidents and do you think that the message was written by the Tinker or one of the attackers? Was anybody surprised that Olver sneaked away from his foster home and followed Mat?

Hard to say, at this point. The dead Tinkers were a situation obviously aimed at Rand. We haven't seen any of the Forsaken commanding Aiel thus far, but we have seen that they are Darkfriends among them, just the same as any other nation, so really they could have been sent by anyone. Mat was sure a gateway was used, and, other than Rand, the Forsaken are--as far as we know--the only ones who know how to weave them. If the Tinker did write the message himself, chances are it wasn't at his own behest. We've seen the Forsaken control others through Compulsion, so they probably could have made him write whatever they wanted.

Mat seems to think the assassination attempt on him was also due to Rand, and perhaps it is, but I don't think Mat realizes how important he is yet, how much o a threat to dark side of the Source. So again, it's anyone's guess at this point. And we had to figure we'd see Olver again, right? He seemed too defiant at that first meeting to just meekly go to a new home.

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Sammael and Graendal
4. Sammael tells Graendal that he has a truce with Rand and she actually believes him. Is she having a really bad day or has Scarface suddenly got a lot better at play-acting? Also, why does he want her to believe that he has a truce?

Graendal resisted believing Sammael for quite some time, so I don't think it was her having an off day. Something has changed and made Sammael more determined, which has made him better at manipulation. Not sure why, specifically, he wants her to believe that, other than to throw her off her game. He wants her to think he's got the upper hand, somehow. But, given how bumbling he's been in the past, I can't help but think he must have some kind of plan now to take this approach.

5. We know that Rhuarc had to give her a good whipping in Tear, but do you have any idea why the Wise Ones have adopted Berelain like a daughter? Does she seem to be a good choice as interim ruler in Cairhien?

I think Berelain just knows how to endear herself to them. Most wetlanders either don't like them or are afraid of them. While she isn't under their authority, as Egwene is, Berelain submits to their advice and treats them with respect. I think this just makes them like her a lot. I think it's kind of funny that they think she's such a sweet, steady, wise woman, and it's mostly because she agrees with them. Very human. As a woman, I never and never will respect Berelain. As a ruler, she's not half bad. As Rand says, she's been ruling most of her life, so she knows what she's doing and is quite practical. And she seems loyal to Rand. Her only agenda was to protect her own country, and Rand has already promised her protection so long as she is loyal, so it's in her best interest to make sure she rules well in his name. I don' t think he could ask for a better situation at this juncture.

Red Ajah Banner
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6. The envoy of Aes Sedai from Elaida has arrived in Cairhien. What do you think about the inclusion of a Red sister in the group? There are six that Egwene spots in the street, but do you think there are more lurking about, possibly another seven?

I think the inclusion of the Red Sister is, once again, showing Elaida's stupidity. Granted, Alviarin may be as much responsible for who is in the the envoy, but certainly Elaida at least feels like she hand-picked them. If she was the kind of Amyrlin who truly wanted to make peace with Rand and work with him toward preparing for the Last Battle (we already know she's not!) then the best thing to do would be to not include a Red sister, as a show of good faith. Instead, she's doing this in-your-face challenge, thinking it will assert her dominance or superiority or something. She's asking for Rand to shoot bale fire in the general direction of Tar Valon, if you ask me. 

With Elaida (and more so Alviarin) it's always best to assume there's more trouble you can't see than that you can. This is sort of the beginning of the end--uh, of this book, I mean. Having these ladies arrive will start to push us toward the end of this book and, let's just say it probably won't be pleasant.

Extras: 

I thought Egwene walking around with that happy-go-lucky grin on her face, and laughing randomly at things was funny. Or creepy. Glad to see she's come back to the city, though.

Seeing Mat get stitched up after the battle was entertaining too. I had to laugh as he, once again, showed his softer side by doting on Olver, and then berated himself for "saddling" himself with a child. Dude, mood swing.

How did everyone else like this section?

2 comments :

  1. 1. Berelain is going to get a bad back if she keeps standing like that! :D

    2. I can't see Loial going off to be a quiet husband any time soon, but I am not sure how he will persuade Erith to let him go.

    3. I think Mat has a suspicion that he is important, but is trying very hard to avoid admitting it to himself.

    6. One day Elaida will do something sensible and I will fall into a faint! But then, I am not sure that she is all that much worse than some of the other Aes Sedai when it comes to their interactions with others - they are all tragically inept and inter-personal skills.

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  2. I definitely wasn't expecting the story to go back to Shadar Logoth until later in the series when we have some Ultimate Evil fights, or cleaning up the bad spots after the big fights. Still, I liked that Rand was so forceful in warning the Aiel, and even when they lost one, they chose to obey his commands not to enter the buildings.

    I also enjoyed Mat getting stitches and coddling Olver without damaging the little guy's pride. Olver was so proud to show off his few possessions to Mat. It really was quite sweet.

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