Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Brandon's Sydney Bookshop Visits

By Linda

Brandon Sanderson visited two bookshops today in Sydney - Kinokuniya, and then the Galaxy, to meet the booksellers and to sign shop stock, plus books of people who happened to be there. I went with my son Mark and we were able to have a short conversation with Brandon. One exciting thing that Brandon told me was that Harriet will read a passage from A Memory of Light at JordanCon!

At the Galaxy Bookshop Brandon signed the Guestbook:

just like another author that we know and love did:

And finally my first photo with Brandon:

Brandon and my son Mark talked Magic for a while, and Mark is currently one of the group playing with Brandon tonight at his hotel.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Towers of Midnight Read-Through #15: Chapter 8 - The Seven-striped Lass

By Linda


The Seven-striped Lass is a rowdy but clean tavern and is a reference to Tarvalon.net, with its innkeeper Melli Craeb being Melissa Craib, beta reader and Tarvalon.net webmaster. There are a few inns in this scene and in Mat’s other scenes in Towers of Midnight, and their names can be significant (see Towers of Midnight inns article).

Mat is calling himself Master Crimson – the colour of blood and war. The chapter ends with Mat actually smelling the blood that the gholam spills and drinks. Crimson also contains ‘crim’ and Mat will claim a reward for killing this criminal monster.

Curiosity is trying to get the better of Mat, but he is restraining it with difficulty. The same goes for his fondness for women. Mat thinks he’s a heart-breaker now that he’s married. Unfortunately I found the humour of this laboured, it was repeated so often.

Mat is foolish for brooding over Verin’s sealed letter in public where it can be plucked out of his hand. Verin underestimated Mat’s fear and loathing of the One Power and therefore Aes Sedai. Mat thinks Verin’s instructions in her letter could make a much worse delay than waiting out the required number of days. It probably would have prevented Moiraine’s rescue.

In Thom’s opinion there’s something wrong about Verin. She is an atypical Aes Sedai. On the other hand, Mat likes her better than other Aes Sedai. They are kindred spirits – tricksters, neither good nor bad but in between (see Tricksters essay). Thom’s sad song is borne of his sorrow for Moiraine. He is the best bard around. People remember his performances years later.

Mat’s all dolled up in his lace embellished coat with nowhere to go. He is missing Tuon and Elayne won’t see him. (By the way, you can’t half remove a band of lace and more than one band of lace on a sleeve would be very ostentatious on a male’s garment even for Mat.)

People see Caemlyn as safe from the Seanchan and the Dragon, but what about the Shadow, which will attack at the end of the book? Safeness is an illusion, since Wrongness is rife.

From the outskirts of the camp, Mat looks back at Caemlyn ablaze with light and remembers his memories of assaulting it:

Mat glanced over his shoulder as the two of them crested a hilltop. Caemlyn was ablaze with the light of torches and lamps. Illumination hung over the city like a fog, grand spires and towers lit by the glow. The old memories inside him remembered this city—remembered assaulting it before Andor was even a nation. Caemlyn had never made for an easy fight. He did not envy the Houses that had tried to seize it from Elayne.

Towers of Midnight, The Seven-striped Lass

foreshadowing of the city under siege at the end of the book when Talmanes will stand in the camp and see the city ablaze, but this time for real.

Mat is fond of Teslyn (an Aes Sedai!), but taunts her in conversation. It is almost flirty. She is grateful to Mat and thanks him for rescuing her. She feels in debt and will repay it, when most Aes Sedai feel the world owes them everything and never acknowledge a debt.

"Remember, should you ever come to the White Tower, you do have women there who are in your debt, Matrim Cauthon. I do not forget."

Towers of Midnight, The Seven-striped Lass

This is probably foreshadowing of Mat going to the Tower to get the Horn and needing her help. I get the feeling Teslyn will do her utmost to get Joline to help, and Edesina, though Joline will try to ‘tame’ Mat as payment – perhaps for the joke sweet buns.

Teslyn acknowledges that her belief she could have resisted the Seanchan is an illusion necessary for her self-respect. Remarkably, since she loathes men (see Teslyn article) and dislikes to touch them, she shakes his hand. Hers is hard, but warm. She is not cold-blooded.

Mat feels kindness to her in return and offers her horses and supplies. She protested that she was sincere and not trying to manipulate him. He said that’s why he made the offer.

Teslyn is a very interesting minor character. Her trauma made her so desperate that she ended up “reformed” by a man. She now treats men – one man at least – better than many Greens do.

If Mat hadn’t spoken with Teslyn, she would not have been able to save him from…(to be continued).

I'll pause the read-through for a couple of weeks while I am at JordanCon and then on vacation. Really looking forward to talking with the Wheel of Time community in a few days' time! Hope to see you there.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Towers of Midnight Read-Through #14: Chapter 7 - Lighter Than A Feather

By Linda


The chapter title refers to the Borderlander saying about death being easier than duty. It is Lan’s and Perrin’s hard duty to face the past, accept their responsibilities and carry on. They will be better leaders and more balanced people for it. Sandwiched between their POVs is that of Galad, the perfect knight who has pretty much had the perfect run until now.

Mind you, none of the men's spirits are lighter than a feather.


The POV begins as a master and apprentice scene – Lan is pleased with Bulen’s progress, but thinks he talks too much.

Andere was the unnamed guard in Kandor whom Bukama berated in New Spring, Into Canluum. Nazar was in the same chapter:

Then a jut-nosed man named Nazar Kurenin rode in front of Bukama's eyes, and he did not blink. The young guard surely had been born after the Blight swallowed Malkier, but Kurenin, his hair cut short and wearing a forked beard, was twice Lan's age. The years had not erased the marks of his hadori completely.

New Spring, Into Canluum

At this time Lan was about 25 years old, so Nazar was about 50 and had given up his hadori years earlier, since Lan remarked that the marks were still there years later. In this chapter Lan says Nazar “took it off when he was a lad.” This must mean when Lan was a lad. Nazar would have been 25 when Malkier fell.

Lan’s reluctance to lead others into battle and possibly to their deaths mirrors Perrin’s. Andere and Nazar say Lan isn’t their captain or king, and insist on their choice. Lan can’t have it both ways and is forced to accept their company. His group is a kind of reverse attrition and gradually erodes his refusal to be a king.

Galad POV

Everyone has the same humble breakfast porridge in Galad’s camp . He is conscious that elsewhere people starve.

Byar is gaunt and sunken-cheeked as though being consumed by a canker – not a physical illness, but a spiritual one. He is rotting within. Eyes are windows to the soul and Byar’s are sunken.

Byar suggests that if they beat Perrin, they can convince Alliandre she owes them and then can set up base in Ghealdan. Dismissively he says that the Last Battle could be months away. Byar claims he knows how to defeat Perrin’s farmers and their deadly longbows and staves. This is probably not a veiled reference to an ambushing force ahead, since Byar never shows shock that Shadowspawn are waiting at that place. Moreover, if Byar is aware that the force is Shadowspawn, and expects it to attack Shadowspawn Perrin and his Darkfriend farmers, he is never appalled when it turns on the Whitecloaks instead. I think he is spouting arguments that Graendal planted in his mind, subtly mixed with his own beliefs. According to Sammael, she is the mast of this sort of Compulsion as well as the mind-wipe type.

Galad is undecided whether it was coincidence that Trollocs and Perrin arrived in Two Rivers at same time. He decides to meet Perrin.

Perrin POV

Perrin rejects the traditional breakfast of bread and cheese. He wants meat. It’s quite a contrast with Galad’s breakfast. Both are breaking with tradition: Perrin with what it is customary for people to eat, Galad with what it is customary for the privileged to eat.

The conflict between Perrin’s wolfish and human side shows here and revolts Faile to a degree. Perrin doesn’t know why Faile rejects golden belts, because she has yet to explain her days as gai’shain. She sticks with practical leather belts, symbolising that she now leads by example instead of demanding the privileges of her birth.

The night Hopper died still haunts Perrin. It was when he killed people for the first time.

Was this part of being ta'veren? Could Perrin not escape that night, years ago?...The Whitecloaks would not leave him alone, and the Pattern—burn it!—was going to keep looping them into his path until he dealt with them.

Towers of Midnight, Lighter Than a Feather

This is the first of his issues that must be dealt with; then Faile/Berelain (mirrored by Bain and Chiad driving Gaul to distraction here with their games), then Isam and the dream, then leadership. After that, Perrin makes his masterpiece. His issues with Berelain and Galad are resolved – and they join together, oddly.

Until this book Perrin’s role to the Aiel is an ambivalent one:

Among the Aiel, nearly every man—all but blacksmiths—would pick up a spear if they were attacked.

Towers of Midnight, Lighter Than a Feather

Yet Perrin is a Blacksmith among them who fights with weapons – any weapon but a sword. The Aiel would be content with that. Soon, he will forge an amazing weapon and an amazing army, and from this, power-wrought weapons will be re-invented.

If the Whitecloaks hadn’t captured his camp followers, Perrin might have avoided them, but he will parley with the Children to get his people back.

For all three men, the choices they are making here set up their achievements for the remainder of the series.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Towers of Midnight Read-Through #13: Chapter 6 - Questioning Intentions

By Linda


On the surface, the chapter title refers to Morgase’s intentions toward Tallanvor, Andor and Perrin, which climaxed when Perrin said Morgase should marry. Yet it is also about leadership intentions: especially Perrin’s role and the way the other people working closely with him react to how he is fulfilling it – or not.

Morgase notices Faile is a better leader now, after Malden. She is almost tempted to advise Perrin on leadership, but then reminds herself that he has declared himself lord of part of Andor. Plus she has no need to; Faile can, and should, do the job instead.

Perrin and Faile are matched perfectly in Morgase’s opinion. And so they are: Wild King and Queen, Strength and Temperance). So well matched, and so well connected - he to Rand, she to Saldaean royalty - that as a couple they pose a threat to Andor.

Perrin wants Alliandre to return to her nation now that the mission is over because she was forced by circumstances to join them. In the same way, he isn’t recruiting; people just beg to join him and his army. His advisors insist he should keep them all and make a proper army, but he won’t take the responsibility and so demands his banners be burnt. Everyone is disappointed with Perrin for issuing this command, even Morgase, who wanted them gone. She realises that with the Last Battle coming someone needs to unite people and lead them. This is something Andoran monarchs have not done in the Two Rivers for centuries – which Perrin claimed as his domain, yet Morgase strongly objects to. Perrin intends to send the Two Rivers people home with Tam. Berelain reminds Perrin how obligated he is to his forces, who he is now dismissing so cavalierly. Masuri is nervous when the rulers encourage Perrin to keep his army but he rejects this and says Rand can get the forces if he wants to. He is a long way off understanding he is the Dragon’s bannerman.

Perrin accepts Edarra’s rebuke that he has neglected his responsibilities as a leader and has yet to earn her respect. He always had a strong sense of duty and he can see and feel what responsibilities it entails so well that they are more than he is prepared to accept, in contrast to Mat, say, who just blithely muddles on, reacting to events as they occur and only seeing their true significance at their climax, or even not until afterwards; or Galad, who sees their full import but accepts that the Pattern has placed him in the position to take these responsibilities. Galad always does his duty and expects others to do likewise. This is where Galad falls down: other people disappoint him, whereas Perrin is currently disappointing others. The two men are very similar in their values and personalities, but the way they react to duty leads to different leadership outcomes. When Perrin finally accepts his role, the two men have a strong mutual understanding and respect and get on very well.

Like many people who have no experience with a stratified society and servants in particular, Perrin gets it wrong, being either too friendly or else too autocratic (as here) when he commands MOrgase to marry. Morgase unbends a little and advises him to learn from Faile.

Morgase still has some inner conflict, but accepts her great drop in position and makes the best of it. She realises how much was beneath her notice before. As one of those lower ranked, who are led and not leaders, Morgase now appreciates the role of a servant and what skill is involved in the position. With her weeks of harsh on-the-job experience in Malden, she has a far better idea than Elayne. In hindsight, Elayne’s mistakes in Tanchico, curtseying to another, slightly higher ranked servant as a maid would curtsey to a noble, are quite ludicrously naive. The servant thought she was mocking her:

Thinking quickly, Elayne bobbed a servant's curtsy and picked up the tray; a servant carrying something was going about her work and not likely to be stopped or told to do something else. Lady Ispan? Not an uncommon name in Tarabon, but there was an Ispan on the list of Black sisters.
"So you mock me, do you, you little cow you?" the stout woman roared, and started around the table waving her thick wooden spoon threateningly.
There was nothing to do without giving herself away; nothing but stay and be hit, or run. Elayne darted out of the kitchen with the tray, Nynaeve and Egeanin at her heels. The cook's shouts followed them, but not the cook, thankfully. An image of the three of them running through the palace pursued by the stout woman made Elayne want to giggle hysterically. Mock her? She was sure that had been exactly the same curtsy servants had given her thousands of times.

The Shadow Rising, Into the Palace

Being subject to Gaebril, then Whitecloaks, then Aiel has been a steady downhill spiral in Morgase’s eyes. Yet Gaebril was the worst of the three since he stole her will without her knowing.

Morgase once had so much self-confidence that Compulsion had to be constantly renewed on her:

Compulsion had presented no difficulties with this woman.
A scowl twisted his face. It did with some. A few-a very few-had a strength of self so firm that their minds searched, even if unaware for crevices through which to slide away. It was his bad luck that he still had some small need for one such. She could be handled, but she kept trying to find escape without knowing she was trapped.

The Fires of heaven, Prologue


She wasn't sure what she was, but she would learn how to do her duty as a lady's maid. This was becoming a passion for her. A way to prove to herself that she was still strong, still of value.
In a way, it was terrifying that she worried about that.

Towers of Midnight, Questioning Intentions

The good thing is that Rahvin’s Compulsion has worn off.

Alliandre is uncomfortable now that her time of enforced servitude is over and she has been restored to her original status while Morgase, who was her equal for a time, still serves. The queen of Ghealdan and, to a lesser degree, Faile believe in inherited social standing (more so than Davram Bashere, who told Perrin that all nobles were commoners once, and can become so again if they are sufficiently incompetent or unlucky) and writhe in embarrassment when Morgase is revealed to be a (former) Queen of a powerful country.

Servant role or no, Morgase is still thinking like a Queen. She realised that she had to stay away from Caemlyn until Elayne establishes herself. For one thing she made enemies under Rahvin’s influence and is therefore a liability to Elayne. She worries that Elayne is not queen yet, or even in Caemlyn.

Perrin rather brusquely suggests Morgase and Tallanvor marry as soon as possible. Had he phrased it more tactfully, he might not have put Morgase’s back up and made Tallanvor miserable. However, legitimately being able to tell Perrin off really restores Morgase’s confidence:

It seemed she had some spark left in her after all. She hadn't felt that firm or certain of herself since . . . well, since before Gaebril's arrival in Caemlyn!

Towers of Midnight, Questioning Intentions

Morgase eyed the Aiel askance and criticised them for insulting Aes Sedai, but she now sounds rather like an Aiel woman insisting on her right to ask the man herself.

She is distracted in her search for Tallanvor to soothe him by scouts returning with news and goes to eavesdrop. In contrast with Perrin she puts knowledge gathering for Andor ahead of her beloved.

Morgase thinks the Wise Ones are as haughty as Aes Sedai – but they are leaders in their society.

The Wise One Nevarin takes the literal meaning of what Perrin says, and presses him on it. Perrin doesn’t respond to her challenge, but makes more obvious what he wanted to know. She then has a dig at Wetlanders instead, and Faile defends them gently. Perhaps Nevarin is trying to make Perrin ask things plainly and in a way that does not imply others are incompetent – a better leader as she sees it.

Similarly, Edarra, later in this chapter rebukes Perrin for his disinterest in his role as leader. He takes it better than some thought he would or should. She pounces on Perrin’s statement that Rand isn’t in Cairhien. Morgase correctly suspects Perrin has a source of information that he doesn’t share. Understandably, since this is his psychic link with Rand.

The Aes Sedai told Edarra that women channellers could link with the men. Seonid and Masuri have earned the right to speak without having to ask aloud, but just take visual cues on whether any Wise One wants to speak first. Morgase is appalled that Aes Sedai have lost their status. She is indignant on their behalf, yet her own change of position was greater and harsher and for less cause. Both Aes Sedai accept their situation, which is probably why they are now given more latitude. However, Edarra still refers to them as apprentices.

Balwer worked out that moving people through gateways will be more time-consuming than Perrin thought and that the Asha’man are not up to it. In a way, the Pattern may have made the most of the bubble of evil by keeping them together until Perrin truly accepts his duty.

Balwer is keen to go to Cairhien with the scouting party. He loves information, so perhaps that is all that is behind this eagerness. Perhaps.