Sunday, January 11, 2015

Towers of Midnight Read-Along, Week 8


Welcome to week 8 of our Towers of Midnight Read-Along! This week we read the Chapters 41-48. 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 & Chili Peppers is hosting this week, so hop over and check out her answers too! :D


Aviendha as a Maiden Source
1. Aviendha’s visions finally show us the decision that will place the Aiel upon their path to destruction. That first step seems so logical, so will she be able to persuade the Wise Ones to avoid it when only she has seen this future? Can you see any way that Randland can avoid being overwhelmed by the Seanchan, even if the Aiel try to preserve the Dragon’s Peace?

As I said last week, it seems obvious that Aviendha will play a pivotal role in this issue, which is why she is having these visions. I think it's an especially interesting situation for her, given how long it took her to pass her final test, standing up to the Wise Ones because they were treating her unfairly. Obviously all Aviendha's learning and training have been pointing her toward this fate. 

That said, the thing that sticks out most in the visions concerning the Aiel is that Rand abandoned them/rendered them useless, etc. If she can get Rand to avoid specifically that (i.e. give them a role or long term job, etc.) then perhaps this whole future can be avoided. The Seanchan, of course, are another issue altogether. An alliance with Seanchan and Mat's wife is the one thing it doesn't seem that Rand has even thought much about yet. He'll have to or else it seems the Seanchan may come to dominate Randland.


Elayne on Lion Throne & Aviendha (Source)
2. Elayne takes the Sun Throne without bloodshed. Were you impressed by her method of uniting the two countries or do you think that it will offer her enemies a neat way to gain power? Will she ever beat the Daes Dae’mar out of the Cairhienien nobility?

I'm with Morgase on this one: Elayne is obviously smart, capable, and well-versed in the art of ruling, politics, and Daes Dae'mar. I certainly couldn't juggle the politics like she does. But mostly I'm impressed at what she's already managed. If her children are as wise rulers as she, I think Trakand will hold one, if not both, thrones for a very long time. Of course there is risk in what she's done, but she recognizes the risk, and is keeping an eye on it. All I can say is, good for her!

And no, I don't think there's any beating Daes Dae'mar out of anybody. That's the kind of thing that's so deeply ingrained, it would have to fade out naturally over generations, which means Elayne will more than likely be stuck dealing with it for her entire life. :/

Rand's...um...arm. :D (Source)
3. It seems that I was wrong for wanting Rand to deal with the Borderlanders earlier. Do you feel as if this plotline has reached a satisfying resolution or do you think that the Borderlanders should have been keeping a watch on the Blight instead? Where do you expect Rand to send them next: to their respective homes or to Tarwin’s Gap?

I thought it was fairly satisfying. But then the Borderlander story line never bugged me much. I do remember being impatient to learn what it was all about, but that was back in books 9 and 10 when we just couldn't figure out what the freak they were up to. Overall, once we know and now that it's been largely resolved, I thought it was interesting. I honestly don't remember where Rand sends them, but we'll get to the field of Merrilor in the final book and that will be the set up for the entire Last Battle. It's gonna be great! :D *rubs hands together*

Androl and Pevara. Kind of goofy but made me smile.
Especially because the artist's DeviantArt name is
CrazyMistborn. Coincidence? :D (Source)
4. Both Pevara and Androl have detected people who have undergone mysterious changes. I guess that we all think that Taim is responsible, but do we have any idea of what has actually happened to them? I was a little unsure of Javindhra: has she undergone a similar transformation to Tarna, or does she have some other reason for wanting to stay in the Black Tower?

I'm not gonna say much on this one, as I remember this story line in detail and don't want to spoil. But your--and the characters--are on the right track. The transformations are real and there's definitely something sinister behind them. And, as we've been saying for 5+ books, now, someone really needs to take out Taim!

5. Foxes and Snakes and blindings, oh my! The Tower of Ghenjei certainly took its toll on our heroes, but at least Thom and Moiraine are happy now! This section was so jammed with action, revelations and fulfilled prophecies: did you manage to follow it all or were you a little overwhelmed? It seems that the second red doorway, in the Stone of Tear, has also been destroyed: do you think that Finn will finally stop receiving visitors now?

I remember being really impressed by this part the first time I read it. While the realms of the Aelfinn/Eelfinn were definitely weird when we first saw them in book 3, and the "answers" Mat got were both intriguing and pivotal to the rest of the series, there really wasn't much violence involved back then. Just weirdness. So I didn't expect so much creep factor the second time. We're talking monsters gnashing their teeth from the shadows. Whoa! 

Just try to imagine the hidden, razor-
sharp teeth! (Source)
I sort of expected the eye thing. I don't know that I would have figured it out on my own, but I'm one of those people who gets online and reads theories and spoilers for whatever story--book, film, TV show, whatever--I'm currently obsessing over. Plenty of other readers had figured out what "half the light of the world" met, and since it hadn't happened yet at this point, I figured it would happen here. I loved that Mat was completely clueless about Thom and Moiraine. Honestly, I missed it the first part of the series myself--it's very subtle--but I think I had it figured out by book 7 or 8. Mat's reaction was priceless, though, especially as he's been traveling with Thom--constantly caressing Moirain's letter--more months now.

Very few travelers had entered the Aelfinn/Eelfinn realm before Mat, and now that the doorways are down, it will be that much harder for people to visit/risk their lives. That said, the realm is still there and I'm sure there are ways for the determined adventurer to return. Never say never.


6. So, Noal WAS Jain Farstrider. Were you surprised by this revelation? What did you think of his ‘death’: is he really gone, or trapped like Moiraine? Alternatively, did he die such a hero’s death that he might become bound to the Horn like Birgitte?

I was SO caught off guard by this the first time. I didn't see it coming at all. So this time around, I've been watching Noal very carefully, trying to soak up all the subtle Easter eggs Jordan/Sanderson have left for us along the way. I thought this was the best twist ever! 

I think he's dead. It would be really interesting if he wasn't, and, if Jordan were still alive and writing, it would be a whole new direction for him to go in--The Adventures of Jain Farstrider within the Aelfinn realm--but I kind of doubt it. With Moiraine, we didn't see anything bad happen to her. She just fell through the doorway. When others had previously gone through--Mat/Rand--they got questions and suffered the consequences, so it would make sense that something like the story she told would happen. In Noal's case, he was being chased by sharp-toothed, blood-thirsty monsters who we know were trying to tear Mat's party apart. This really wasn't a welcome-visitor-what-questions-can-we-answer situation. Plus, by trying to break the rules, Mat and his buds had already pissed these monsters off. I don't think Noal would have survived. 

It would definitely be cool if Noal became a hero of the horn, though! :D

Olver (Source)
7. Olver seems to mirror Mat quite a lot, from his way with serving girls to his ability to beat a game that is supposedly impossible to win. It seems that his nosiness was rather fortuitous, but do you think that Verin’s letter will prove at all useful now that the Trolloc attack has already started? Do you think that she should have left instructions that would have actually made Mat open the letter in time to prepare for the attack?

This kind of made me smile for a few reasons. I actually really like that Verin underestimated Mat's self-control. Don't get me wrong: knowing Mat, anyone would. But it was still kind of satisfying. As for her leaving instructions, I honestly don't know what she cold have said that would make Mat or anyone else take it seriously--you know, make it a priority--until the Trollocs actually appeared. They've all just had so much else on their plates. 

I also think Olver beating the game was a kind of foreshadowing of his role in the final book. I'll leave it at that. One more thing: this is kind of the first battle of the Last Battle. Caemlyn is burning. Whether they get things under control before the pow wow at the field of Merrilor or not, let's just say things probably won't get a whole lot better from here on out.

I'm going to go all nerdy-author on you here, but I really think this was mostly a structural thing on the authors' parts. It would have been harder--er, used up a whole lot more words--to try and deal with this any other way. By just reading it concisely in the letter, then seeing it happen right in front of us, the authors could let the readers know exactly what was happening and why, then jump into the chaos. Just a narrative device, really. (Again, sorry for the nerdiness. :D)

8. Evil Aiel with filed teeth!!?!??!? Discuss!

Yeah, how crazy was this. Poor guy. Thought he was saved, but no such luck. I remember being totally weirded out by this--still am, really--but we'll get more in the next book. I won't say more.

Lanfear (Source)
9. Lanfear barges into Rand’s happy place and asks him to help her. I suspect that we were supposed to be surprised that she was still alive, especially after Moiraine’s report of her death at the hands of the Finn, but had you already suspected this? Do you think that Rand will dash off to save her, and, if so, will she finally turn from the Shadow, be a decent person and help the man that she supposedly loves?

Honestly, this seems a little tired to me. Lanfear's been trying to hook Rand since book 1, and even if she does need help, I kind of don't care. Even if we had evidence that she's gonna turn to the good side, which we really don't, I kind of feel like it's too little too late. I remember thinking, I hope Rand doesn't dash off to save her. He's got the Last Battle to fight! The only thing I found interesting about this section was the fact that he called her by her original name, Mierin. I always find it interesting when he names someone truly, for her who they truly were originally, rather than using their chosen, Forsaken name. 

I also thought it was interesting that he said she looked not like Lanfear, but like Selene. Interesting that her Selene guise is actually truer to what she actually looked like in life than her Lanfear look. 

And with that, after 2+ years, we head into the final installment!!!

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

What did everyone else think of this section?


4 comments :

  1. I am sure Mat would be terribly upset if Tuon put Egwene, Elayne, and Rand in collars. And he wouldn't hold back from telling her. In fact, I kind of hope it happens (collaring someone Mat cares about or has respect for) just so these two can have it out and Mat can toss in that she is actually a Channeler too. Fireworks, anyone?

    I expected some more trickery by the Finn and the level of outright violence was, well, ins some ways refreshing since we knew then exactly what we were dealing with (a break from the resent political wits we have had to wend through).

    When Thom shared Moirain's letter and all that caressing of the letter, it was clear he had feelings for her. But I was not sure they were reciprocated until they were reunited.

    Yeah, Lanfear os deifnitely in the too little too late category. Still, I think of Rand chatting with the Shinarin warrior who was a dark friend (book 2? book 3?) and decided at the last moment he didn't want to be dark anymore and gave his life protecting Rand and crew. Rand said that one can always choose to be good and that is all it takes.

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    1. Yeah you're right about it being a relief the Finn didn't buy into politics. Were you the one who said you were no good at politics? I'm not either. If I were Elayne, I think I'd tell them all to go to hell at some point. Good call about Ingtar as well. Much as I wish he wouldn't, if he really believed Lanfear had converted to the good side, he'd probably give her every chance he could. :/

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  2. 1. I suspect that Rand has failed to think about what the Aiel’s purpose will be after the Last Battle. I can hardly blame him because he is so focused on the event itself and it is not as if everyone else is reminding of this problem all the time. I suspect that Aviendha’s visions will sort out all of these issues.

    2. All the politics make my head hurt: I just wish that everyone could be honest and open all the time! The Aiel are right when they say that Wetlanders are mad! :D

    3. I thought that is resolved rather well, but was terribly frustrating for several books back there when Rand was simply ignoring them.

    4. Kill Taim! That should be at the top of Rand’s ‘to do’ list. He is going to turn horribly evil and kill lots of people, we can all see that and yet Rand is still skipping about in ignorance . . . arghhhhh!!!!!

    5. I loved Mat’s reaction: it was like he had just discovered that his parents created him by having sex! :D

    6. Yeah, I guess that their rule-breaking had reduced the chance of tea and crumpets by this point!

    7. I agree that Verin underestimated Mat terribly in this case. I suspect that she should have trusted him a little more, but explaining how she knew about the raid would have been a little difficult and make it very difficult for him to believe her.

    9. I agree that I really do not care what happens to Lanfear: I just hope that Rand leaves her to her problems. Unfortunately, I expect that we will see her in action in the Last Battle and that she will be a total nuisance before someone finally kills her. At which point I will be very happy to see the back of her.

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    1. Yeah we probably will see Lanfear again. Let's just hope Rand puts an end once and for all to not only the DO but also all of the Forsaken. :D Thanks Sue!

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