Sunday, November 2, 2014

The Gathering Storm Read-Along, Week 5


Welcome to week 5 of our The Gathering Storm Read-Along! This week we read Chapters 29-35. 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. Sue over at Coffee, Cookies, and Chili Peppers is hosting this week. Hop on over and check out her answers as well!


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1. We journey to yet another impressive city. What are your impressions of Bander Eban and its inhabitants? Do you think that Rand will succeed in bringing peace and unity to the region, or will it all dissolve into chaos again as soon as he moves on?

I'm actually kind of impressed by the city, given the loose nature we've come to expect from the Domani. While their country may have been in chaos--missing a king and all--before Rand arrived, it actually seems to be a rather well put together city during better times. Kind of surprising. I think Rand is being smart to have the Council choose a king, as is their custom. That will probably ensure that it won't dissolve into chaos when he leaves. You know, assuming the newly chosen king survives the Last Battle and everything.

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2. I feel as if I am being overly harsh towards Gawyn, but he does seem to be very slow on the uptake! Do you think that he will ever see sense and stop trying to rescue Egwene? Will their reunion be all magical and gushing, or will Egwene take exception to Gawyn’s image of her as only a helpless puppet and not the awesomely powerful woman that she has become?

I really liked this chapter with Gawyn for several reasons: 1) his conversation with Gareth Bryne was really sweet and melancholy. Yet another example of great writing. First was the one between Rand and Moridin. Now this one. 2) It shows the real reason for why Gawyn always seems to be slow in his decision-making: he's very conflicted. He's been raised with so many different weights on his shoulders that he now has trouble prioritizing. He's torn between Egwene and Elayne, between honor and what's right, between old loyalties and new. He could learn a lot from Gareth Bryne, but, as Gareth pointed out, he's still very young and unlikely to gain the wisdom of Bryne's years any time soon. 

"He'd never been very good at the game in the first place--" (pg. 463). He's talking about stones, but really he's talking about politics and strategy, and this is one of Gawyn's major failings. He doesn't have a head for the game, which means he always follows his heart. And his heart is always in the right place, but it's always pulling him in six different directions, which is why he can never seem to get anywhere, but ends up standing still.

Love this from Bryne:
"Whom to serve? Our own skill frightens us, sometimes What is the ability to kill if one has no outlet for it? A wasted talent? The pathway to becoming a murderer? The power to protect and preserve is daunting. So you look for someone to give the skill to, someone who will use it wisely. The need to make a decision chews at you, even after you've made it. I see the question ore in younger men We old hounds, we're just happy to have a place by the heart. If someone tells us to fight, we don't want to shake things up too much. Bu tthe young men...they wonder." (pg. 463)

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3. Cadsuane has decided to enlist the Wise Ones in her efforts to ‘guide’ Rand. Do her thoughts suggest that she is starting to truly understand him and do you think that her efforts will have a positive or negative result?

Cadsuane is very insightful, and it's good to see her hatch a plan. She's smart enough and experienced enough that, if she has an idea, she can probably make it work. And with the Wise Ones on her side, it's hard to see them failing. Here's to hoping she and Sorilea can finally find success with Rand.

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4. Nynaeve decides to go off and ‘help’ Rand behind his back. Were you surprised by what she discovered or how she went about it? Do you think that there is any chance at all that she will be able to moderate her behavior to guide Rand in a similar way to Moiraine?

I think if Nynaeve applied herself a little more often, she could do great things. She's obviously resourceful and gutsy--a Moiraine or perhaps even Cadsuane in the making--but she's still young enough to be timid and unsure at times. I thought it was super-cool that she decided to be brave, risk Rand's ire, and discovered what she did. I also loved that Rand told her how to undo Compulsion. What a great find that is! Despite the tragedy of what happened to the boy--totally Graendal's fault--knowing Nynaeve she'll be able to build on this discovery and come up with even greater things. Can't wait to see that.

As I said, Nynaeve isn't quite as wise or capable as Moiraine was yet, but that's mostly due to her youth. I think she'll get there eventually. And it says a lot that Rand admits that he trusts her. The conversation about his callousness between them was another great one! So sad, but so insightful. 
"But that's just a story," Nynaeve said. "A legend.""That's what I am," Rand said. "A story. A legend. To be told to children years from now, spoken of in whispers...Sometimes you can't turn back. You have to keep pressing on. And sometimes, you know this climb is your last...The difference between you and Cadsuane is that you actually care about me...You want me to live. For that, you have my thanks. Dream on my behalf, Nynaeve. Dream for things I no longer can." (pgs. 519-520)

*tries not to cry*

Nynaeve also lays out very well the reason Rand has to be made to feel again: 
"There was always hope. By surrendering that most important emotions, he might make himself strong--but risked losing all reason he might have to care about the outcome of his battles." (pg. 521)

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5. Mat spent hours coming up with very interesting, and thorough, backstories for his group of spies. Was this a justifiable use of his time or were his men correct in finding it all rather funny? Aludra demands all the resources in the world for her ‘dragons’: will Rand go along with this plan or see it as pointless?

Both. In terms of plans, this was very smart of him. But it was also hilarious! ("a tragic oxen stampede" anyone?) I think this was very much the author(s) having fun creating mini characters for our characters to pretend to be. And there was also the tongue-in-cheek aspect of Mat's men taking it way too literally. ("But I don't want to leave my great aunt!" pg. 524)
"Burn the man! There was good drama in those pages!" (Pg. 525)

I won't say much about Aludra, expect that things will get interesting. :D

Verin, in the Two Rivers, I think.
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6. Verin has returned! Any ideas why she has been hanging around in the mountains distributing flyers rather than Travelling about trying to find Mat and Perrin?

Yeah. But I won't spoil. It's always fun to see her turn up, though. Especially when she says, "let's chat" and you know it will be an interesting one. :D



Couldn't find one of Rand and Tuon, so went
with Mat and Tuon. Cool pic. Source
7. Could Rand’s meeting with Tuon have gone any more badly? Do you think that this will signal open warfare between Rand and the Seanchan, or is there still a chance of a truce? 

I think it says a lot about Tuon that she actually managed to resist his ta'veren-ness. She's a strong leader and just a very strong woman all around. I also liked that she, once again, was forced to re-evaluate her opinion of Mat. 

And I loved that Nynaeve--who buts heads with Mat to no end--was so loyal to him. Both she and Rand showed true loyalty to their friend and it was so refreshing to see! Loved that scene!

Rand wants peace, but the Seanchan are going to have to revise their opinions of Aes Sedai at some point. It's one of those problems that doesn't seem to have much of a solution right now, because neither side will budge. They'll have to figure out something, though, if they want to make it through the Last Battle.

I don't know about open war with Rand, but obviously the Seanchan are about to fulfill Egwene's dream.

Extras:

[The Last Battle] "Yes it is close.
Horribly close." (pg. 544) Source
More priceless lines from Mat: 
"Pessimism, she is a fond friend of yours, yes?""That's uncalled for," Mat grumbled. "I barely know her. Mere acquaintances at best. You've got my oath on it."

I liked that when he returned to Falme, Rand reminisced about how the last time it had been a turning point in his life. The firs time he'd killed anyone, the first time he'd realized how dangerous he would be to his friends. 
"At Falme, the shepherd boy had burned, his ashes scattered and blown away by those ocean winds. From those ashes, the Dragon Reborn had risen." (pg. 537)

I liked that Tuon referred to the DO as "Lighteater." (pg. 543)  Just an interesting concept.

What other bloggers thought:     Dab of Darkness     Coffee Cookies & Chili Peppers

What did everyone else think of this section?

6 comments :

  1. Hi Liesel! Sorry I didn't comment last week. I did write some answers, but they were swallowed by the internet god without me even noticing it, and when I did I was so busy and pissed off that I didn't want to type it all over again. :-/

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  2. It's true that sometimes your heart can lead you in the wrong way.

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    1. Agreed. It's an unfortunate truth, but makes for a very compelling story. Thanks Maurice! :D

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  3. Gareth has had a little warm place in my heart since Siuan started washing his small clothes. But now he is becoming one of my favorite side characters because of this wisdom he is sharing with Gawyn (not forcing upon him).

    The relationship between Nynaeve and Rand continues to grow and that is great. Nynaeve feels that she was a part of something horrible when Rand showed her how to undo the Compulsion and the youth perished anyway - but Rand is also right. He (even with all his entourage) can't undo every wrong, can't save everyone and give them a happy future. I think Nynaeve is still struggling to accept that, but it is good to see Rand trust her enough to talk about these things.

    The loyalty of Rand & Nynaeve to Mat was great. Especially since they 'risked' interrupting Tuon and meeting her eyes. The Seanchan will see it as them risking their very lives to defend a friend's honor. If that doesn't raise Mat in Tuon's eyes, I don't know what will.

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