Sunday, December 8, 2013

Lord of Chaos Read-Along, Week 8

Welcome to week 8 of our Lord of Chaos Read-Along! This week we read chapters 39-45. Keep in mind that everything in this section is fair game for spoilers, as well as everything that's come before, so read at your own risk!

1. Egwene wants to send Mat to Ebou Dar with Elayne and Nynaeve. Because of his promise to Rand, he goes. What do you think of this situation? Good idea? Bad idea? Where do you think the plot will go--for Mat or the girls--from here?

I think Jordan is a master story-crafter. It all seems perfectly normal and like there's no plan--Rand asks Mat to do him a favor, Mat agrees and then has to accompany the girls on their trip, planning to do as he promised as soon as they find the bowl. I can't say where it will all end up (because I totally know) but I'll just be cryptic and say that his sets in motion a chain of events that will fulfill some of the biggest mysteries surrounding the three questions Mat asked inside the red doorway ter'angreal. Dun, dun, DUN!!!

Elayne and Aviendah
2. Aviendha and Elayne finally have a...ahem...heart to heart. What did you think of each of their reactions, Elayne's refusal to "meet toh" and the fact that Aviendha later ended up in a frilly dress?

On one hand, I think Aviendha stripping to the waist and asking Elayne to beat her may have been born of some twisted, semi-pornographic male fantasy. But, given what we know of the Aiel and toh, it also makes a twisted sort of sense. I thought it was handled well. I was glad to see some jealousy in Elayne (a.k.a. her considering the beating) but also that she kept tight control of her emotions. Aviendha wearing a wetlander dress is about on par with Sulin wearing livery and serving Rand, so there's a certain continuity that makes the whole situation believable, and even empathetic.

3. Min comes to Rand. She's obviously trying to win him. What do you think of her methods and his reaction to her? I know in my own writing, whenever I try to make a character as clueless as Rand seems to be about Min's feelings, I always get criticized for it. How does Jordan pull it off? Or does he?

I think she's being as smart as any woman could be about it. Doing a Berelain and just throwing herself at him wouldn't work. Elayne is the pretty, somewhat unattainable girl at the prom. Aviendha has the warrior princess role totally covered. Min has to carve out her own niche in Rand's heart. She's establishing herself as his confidant. The person he sees, speaks to, and confides in on a day-to-day basis. That friendship-before-love connection may end up being stronger than the one he has with either of the other two women. Min is one smart cookie.

As for Rand's cluelessness, I could see it either way. I mean, a guy who doesn't get it when a girl plants her backside in his lap is being pretty dang blond, and Rand has never been the ditsy type. But, given everything he has to worry over, a second conscience in his head, saidin's taint, and the fact that he's always thought of Min as a sister...I don't know. I guess I can see it. But you'd think he'd at least consider that perhaps her feelings toward him had changed.

"The Farm" a.k.a. The Black Tower
4. The formation of the Black Tower. What do you think of it? The name, the different levels of asha'man? When Rand put the pins on Taim's lapel and proclaimed him second only to Rand, Taim seemed angry. What do you think he was so mad about?

I always like the images presented by the Black Tower juxtaposed with the White Tower. And of course it's fitting, given the ancient symbol of the Aes Sedai. I think it's a scary undertaking, and the change in the word it represents is bigger than Rand is envisioning, but given everything that's happened and continuing to happen, I think of a formation of some kind of male channeler's association was inevitable. 

As for Taim, it's hard to say. If Taim is one of the Forsaken in disguise, then it would make sense that he'd be angry about being held up as second to Rand. The Forsaken are just stupid enough and egotistical enough not to be able to act convincingly in that situation. If, on the other hand, he's not one of the Forsaken, he's just a ridiculously arrogant, power-hungry dude who really thinks he's better than Rand and doesn't want to be seen as second, even to the Dragon Reborn himself.  So, it's hard to say what exactly his motives are yet, not knowing exactly who he is or what his end game is.

Egwene as Amyrlin (in T'A'R)
5. At the end of chapter 53, we see several of the Caemlyn Aes Sedai manipulating Andoran nobles. And then there was Egwene's manipulation of Mat. Apparently she wanted to get him away from the Band and keep his soldiers close to her. What do you think everyone's plans are and how will they play out?

Can't say much about this one, except that we'll see what the Caemlyn Aes Sedai are up to by the end of this book. Egwene's plans, though, will take longer to completely visualize. It's gonna be big, though. :D

6. Halima dances with Mat and then tries to channel at him, though Mat comes to the conclusion it wasn't her. What do you think s/he was trying to do? Can you think of something else significant we learned in this exchange?

I would guess that Halima was trying to use compulsion on him. She was trying to get him to do what she wanted, and when it didn't work, she tried to force it, and was shocked when her weaves didn't work. What I'm getting at that we learned is that the medallion works the same for saidin as saidar. Mat keeps wondering that. He knows it stops women from channeling against him, but he wonders if it would keep Rand's weaves away from him. Since Halima is one of the male Forsaken, resurrected in a female body, she actually channels saidin. Of course, Mat has no way of knowing any of that.

Faile and Perrin
7. Hooray! Perrin is back! What impressions did you get of his and Rand's reunion? How about the introduction of Faile and Min?

His and Rand's reunion was both cool and sad. Sad that they aren't the same, easy-going boyhood pals they once were, but glad to see them smiling and slapping backs. Rand said nice things about Perrin's marriage. Brownie points for that. The whole Faile vs. Min thing was funny. They seemed to be getting along when they left, though. They totally should, too. Rand, Mat, and Perrin's girls really should all be pals, don't you think?

Extras: Loved that Mat still felt enough loyalty to Egwene to bow to her when he thought the other Aes Sedai were being mean. That was so cute. Then, of course, he got mad at her reaction, or lack thereof, and took it out on his men. Classic Mat.

Really liked this line by Perrin, describing how Rand's countenance looks: "Perrin recognized something of that look...when it seemed hope was gone, but you went on fighting because the cost of giving up was too great." (pg. 798). It's a potent way to describe how bleak Rand's demeanor is becoming. Can't be a good thing.

Anyone else excited to see Perrin meet the in-laws? :D

What other readers thought:     Dab of Darkness     Coffee, Cookies, and Chili Peppers

How did everyone else like this section?


  1. 1. Good idea or not, it's what needs to happen plot-wise (and fate-wise). As I've said before, this Ebou Dar storyline is really quite deep for certain characters. I know many fans have mixed feelings about this rabbit hole, but in comparison to some other storylines to come (the baths, oh… the baths!) Ebou Dar is pretty darn cool in my book.

    2. Twisted semi-pornographic fantasy? I don't know what you're talking about! Personally I thought electing the Amyrlin topless was quite thinly veiled and not very becoming. I'd rather have changed that chapter. I'm happy to see that corporal punishment stops somewhere, and frankly, knowing Aviendha, she's probably been harder on herself than Elayne could ever be.

    3. I do cherish these scenes between Min and Rand. I totally sympathise with Rand when it comes to dealing with Elayne and Aviendha, but I think RJ succeeds in making the Rand/Min relationship feel easier and not like pushing a square peg in a round hole (accidental mental imagery not at all intended). Now that Rand's mental state is supposed to get gloomier and gloomier, at least we have this to rely on. Aviendha may be awesome but she's not very therapeutical.

    I like to think I would have caught the hint, but I'm not sure I would have at Rand's age. You girls never seem to realise the impressive density of the male cranium.

    4. Taim I think wants to run the show on his own. He would probably prefer if Rand stayed away as much as possible, and at the very least pass orders through him and not directly to his students.

    If they were searching for the most antagonistic and least diplomatic name possible I guess they hit the mark. But hey, at least it's ambitious.

    [Interesting point about Taim being one of the forsaken. If that's the case, it could be catastrophic to say the least.]

    5. I believe Egwene wants Mat's band to act threatening in order to spur her Aes Sedai to action. They're not large enough to take on Bryne's forces, but they're definitely enough to screw things up, or at least, that's the impression she wants to make. She's doing this because once her rebels are really committed to war, her position as Amyrlin is more secure.

    6. I'm not sure what you mean, except we got another hint now that Halima actually channels Saidin. Otherwise she would never have channeled in the middle of 100+ Aes Sedai.

    [Ah I see. Yes, the amulet blocks both kinds of the OP.]

    7. I really enjoy the reunion scenes, they're so rare and they feature character mixes that we haven't seen for a while. It usually doesn't matter who, I like them all.

    [Rand and Perrin's girls should get along at least. Mat's might be more of a challenge… if you catch my drift.]

    1. I was always a fan of Ebou Dar as well, though I know many were not. And I, too, enjoy the reunion scenes. It's always interesting to see how characters will react to one another after being apart so long. It's something I'm super looking forward to--if he doesn't kill everyone off first--in George R.R. Martin's series. :D

    2. Ah, thanks for being the one to say that the Amyrlin election may have been a thinly veiled male fantasy - all those topless ladies!

      It's hard to think of Egwene forcing a war or battle in order to secure her seat, but I guess it makes sense. She is surrounded by Aes Sedai who think she will be a puppet and she is sending her only true friends off to Ebou Dhar. So, standing alone, I guess she really needs the Salidar Aes Sedai united behind her, not squabbling over who gets to pull her strings.

    3. 1. Now I am totally intrigued about how multiple baths could play a significant role in the books! :D

      2. I'm guessing all those Sitters might have ageless faces, but who knows how their ages are reflected by the rest of their bodies!!

      3. I was stunningly dense at that age, so it isn't just a male thing. I wonder if the 3 women somehow all make up the perfect Woman - Min is the friend aspect, Aviendha is the sexy aspect and Elayne is the bossy, nagging, chin-raising aspect . . .

      5. Good point - I can see Egwene using the Band as a stick to poke the Aes Sedai into doing something rather than sitting about and being useless, which is pretty much what they are doing at the moment.

      7. Agreed - I as just sad for Loial's absence :(

  2. I wasn't surprised that Aviendha stripped to the waist while asking Elayne to use the switch and knife as she saw fit. The Aiel conserve their resources, including decent clothing. So stripping the waist was merely saving her shirt.

    Halima channels the male half of the Power, really? So it is dependent on one's soul and not genitalia? That is cool. Are there other examples of this in the series?

    That was very nice, even gentlemanly of Mat to give Egwene a bow when he felt the other aes sedai were not treating her with respect.

    1. A good point about the Aiel sense of frugality, lol. That's definitely true. And yes, Halima channels the male half, which is why s/he isn't worried about channeling in Salidar. I thought Mat's gesture was sweet as well. This is why we love him so much, even thought he can be a total womanizer, among other things, at times. :D

  3. Argh! My social life keeps getting in the way! Sorry I'm late, back soon to add my comments!

  4. 1. Poor Mat! He just can't get away from his destiny, no matter how much he tries.

    2. I think it might have wandered into porn territory if they had beaten each other with pillows, but I'm not well acquainted with porn imagery.

    3. With the whole lap-sitting scene I honestly expected some reference to his body's reaction to the situation . . . after all it's quite some time since his sexytimes with Avienda . . .

    4. I hadn't considered that Taim might actually be one of the Forsaken in disguise: DOH! Of course, it would be the perfect hiding place . . . I'm not sure if it fits in with what we already know of the surviving male Forsaken, but it certainly makes sense given Taim's ego and surprising abilities.

    6. I hadn't thought of Compulsion - I was definitely thinking more along the 'woman scorned' path when it came to what she was trying to do.

    7. That picture is so totally NOT how I picture mild-mannered Perrin! Yikes!

    Somehow I think that the mother-in-law is going to be the really tough one! :D