Sunday, February 16, 2014

Crown of Swords Read-Along, Week 8

Welcome to week 8 (the final one!) of our Crown of Swords Read-Along. This week we read from chapter 38 to the end. Remember everything from this section, as well as everything that's come before is fair game for spoilers, so read at your own risk!

1. In the Rahad we get a bit of a jumble as Ispan and Falion attack downstairs while the gholam cleaned up upstairs. With so many to choose from, who is ultimately behind this mess? Could the two be coordinated attacks or are they unrelated? Were you surprised that Joline and Teslyn (apparently) didn't interfere (yet)?

It doesn't sound to me like the gholam is likely to coordinate with anyone. Granted, one of the Forsaken could have sent both groups, but I seriously doubt they were actually working together. I'm thinking this is two different factions, butting heads. One sent the Black Ajah to find the bowl before Nynaeve and Elayne could get a hold of it. The other sent the gholam. Just a theory, though. :D
2. The gholam: Immune to the Power and to blades, with superhuman strength and rubber man abilities, only known weakness is Mat's medallion. What are your thoughts on this latest addition to the Shadow's arsenal? How could this creature possibly be defeated? Will it try to avoid Mat and cause mayhem somewhere else or does it maybe have a desire for revenge?

This is one of those things that I kind of know, so I won't say much. Based on how Mat's medallion burned it, though, I think Mat ought to use the medallion to gauge the thing's heart out or something. Somehow, I don't think we can rely on this thing to take the high road, or be frightened, though.

3. It seems Elayne and Nynaeve are now left heading a jolly mix of Aes Sedai, Kinswomen and Sea Folk channelers (and Lan… poor guy), heading for a farm not far out of Ebou Dar. With the Seanchan invasion, there is no turning back, but do they even know? Can they escape? Where do they even go? How about the nearly 2000 kinswomen who are about to be seized by the Seanchan?

That's definitely hard to say at this point. I remember wondering the very thing--how far they got and if they knew of the invasion--the first time I read it. Hmm...maybe gateways will come in really handy for them at this point. As for the kinswomen, I don't worry too much about them. Granted, the Seanchan seem to have a better handle on things than the Aes Sedai ever did, but even so. The kinswomen are survivors by definition. 

4. With all the girls gone, Mat and the men are stuck in Ebou Dar with uncertain fate as the “storm” breaks, and the dice stop rolling in the same moment. Please speculate here on Mat's future and the reasons why he must stay behind.

Yeah I totally know why, so I won't say. I will say it may a while before this question is answered in the text. The scene with Mat running around, looking for Olver, while the pavement erupts beneath him was pretty cool, though. Poor Mat just can't seem to catch a break. He finally thinks he's escaping (from Tylin at least) only to get caught up with the Seanchan. Gotta love those dice.

9 Bees of Illian (Source)
5. Sammael sees fit to trick the Shaido into scattering themselves over a large area roughly in Ghaeldan, Altara and Illian, but not before giving them an Oath Rod! Incidentally this is where almost all of our heroes are at the moment. What do you predict for them and this trio of distasteful women (Sevanna, Therava, Galina)? Which storyline could they mess up next?

*snorts* Like Elaida, Sevanna is one of those women who messes up the lives of everyone she crosses. We know Perrin is headed into Ghealdan, our girls aren't far from Altara, and Rand of course is now in Illian. Why Sammael keeps putting objects of the Power in Sevanna's hands, I'll never understand. Not that she's cool enough to do anything truly evil and awesome with them, but I'm sure she'll find a way to wreak havoc. I really wish someone would kill her, but if I remember right, Randland won't be so lucky for a while.

Liah in Shadar Logoth (Source)
6. Rand wastes no time after waking and promptly brings the hammer down on Illian while Sammael thinks he's out cold. Do you agree with this gambit? How would you rate this attack compared to the last time Rand stormed a forsaken's lair (Rahvin)? What do you think about Sammael's decision to retreat to Shadar Logoth?

This was a decision that could have gone either way. He was very weak and went without protection. Again! But there is something to be said for the element of surprise. And the fact that Sammael did flee says Rand caught him off guard. I don't think this attack was as cool or intense as the last one. As Rand makes his way through the Forsaken, he's coming up against the more cautious ones, but that doesn't mean they're necessarily more clever. The fact that Sammael fled to Shadar Logoth was a gamble of the highest order, and it didn't really end up working in his favor. 

This battle may have also been more tragic because of Liah. It was shocking to see her there again, and she didn't seem particularly sane. Rand used balefire on her, rather than let Mashadar take her. I'm sure that won't help his state of mind. 

7. While duelling in Shadar Logoth, Rand runs into a mysterious figure (the “Wanderer”). What do you make of this fellow? Friend or foe?

I know who this is, and let's just say we've seen him very recently. I would definitely call him a foe, though. Despite helping Rand, he openly cited his reasons as being "carefully laid plans," and there was a definite "yet" in there. As in, I don't want you to die just yet. Also, he used balefire without calling on saidin. This suggests he was using the True Source, which can only be accessed with the consent of the Dark One. This suggests he's probably one of the Forsaken. One of the resurrected ones, perhaps?

8. Rand eventually kills Sammael and is granted the throne of Illian, giving his personal empire a direct border with the Seanchan invaders (or at least soon enough), setting the stage for a spectacular show. How do you think this will come about? Will they have to be defeated, or do you think Suroth can be reasoned with?

Yeah, I kind of lump Suroth in with Elaida and Sevanna. She's definitely not as frivolous as they are, but I don't see her being any more enlightened. From what we know of her, she's not likely to consider any logical alliances. So, chances are they'll have to be defeated. And that's cooler anyway. :D Besides, what was started in Falme will have to be finished sooner or later, and with more and more nations getting behind Rand, it's probably going to come to a head sooner rather than later (not that that means much in terms of WoT pages or installments). I think it's fitting that the cover of the next book shows him wearing the Crown of Swords.


I had to laugh and shake my head during the chapter from Galina's POV when she ran into Sevanna. "In the midst of frowning at Galina, [Sevanna] had caught sight of her own hand and directed a brief, admiring smile at rings set with large emeralds and firedrops." (pg. 808)
Really? This woman thinks she's going to rule the world? Anyone else laughing hysterically?

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  1. True, the Kinswomen are survivors. So even if Nynaeve and Elayne don't assist in getting them out of Ebou Dar, they are quite capable of melting into the background and seeing to their own. After all, the nosey White Tower has no idea the numbers of Kinswomen after 'monitoring' them for centuries.

    i expect Rand will be mourning his balefire-ing of Liah to the end of his days. I wonder if that will end up affecting the storyline at all? As we know, using balefire runs the risk of burning the person out of the timeline further and further back.

    Sevanna is a joke. Perhaps Jordan put her in the series as the comedic relief? I know I always giggle a bit when she goes on about how she will rule someday.

    1. Yes, Liah was very sad, and I can see her death torturing Rand for quite some time.

      Sevannah = idiot! :D

  2. 1. I agree: the Black Ajah are working alone here, so all the others, including the Gholam, must have been sent by someone else. It was rather unfortunate though, them all arriving at the same time!

    2. I can see that it would be angry at being hurt, especially as nothing else can harm it, and try to remove the threat.

    3. I agree: I am pretty certain that a gateway will come into play and allow an awful lot of people to escape the invasion.

    4. Mat does seem to suffer from very extreme luck: both good and bad. I was rather pleased that they stayed behind to look for Olver, but now they are stuck in an invaded city . . . yikes!

    5. Oh dear, I was hoping that she would come to a sticky end rather quickly . . . but I suppose that would stop her being such a nuisance. Still, she is pretty much at the top of my "please die soon" list.

    6. When we look at the remaining Forsaken there does seem to be a higher percentage of the very cautious ones. Perhaps Sammael did not realize that Rand had already visited Shadar Logoth and so was aware of the threat of the Mashadar: it seemed like his overconfidence finally caused his downfall.

    7. I guessed at Moridin, and your comments make me think that I was correct, although I did think it was Logain for a short time.

    8. I agree: Suroth is too short-sighted to see the long term consequences of fighting against Rand rather than alongside him.

    Yep, I did giggle at Sevanna's "Oh, look at my pretty baubles!" moment. What an idiot! :D