If you haven't read the book, or the whole series, why not join in and read along with the rest of us? You can find links to everyone else’s thoughts at On Starships& Dragonwings.
This week we read through to the end of the book.
1. Oo la la, Nynaeve and Lan are finally confirming there is something going on between them, and of course Rand has to creepily eavesdrop.... What do you think of this brewing star-crossed love?
I really like the way that this romance is handled. The two obviously have deep feelings for one another and yet we see only hints and flashes of it until this moment. As someone who is not a huge fan of the Romance genre and who is sick and tired of instalove, longing glances and general mushiness, I am quite happy to have missed those phases of their relationship (if they ever happened). It is really nice to see an adult version of romance, with sensible discussion and wild emotions being overlooked for other factors.
Apart from my own aversion for a good story distracted by romance, I think that this choice was great for the characters: how could we watch Lan go all mushy and lovelorn and still believe in him as a badass Warder? Plus, seeing this vulnerability in Nynaeve proves that she has hidden depths and that her frosty exterior could just be a protective mask. Somehow, their restraint conveys so much more feeling than if they were behaving like a pair of teenagers and mooning about over one another. Of course, it also adds another parallel between Lan and Aragorn . . . although I do not remember Arwen being so angry!
2. Wow, the Blight is a scary place, but what did you think was the creepiest critter/thing that the team encountered or fortunately didn't encounter?
As is often the case, the creepiest thing is the one that we were not shown: the worms. The brief descriptions of the horrors attacking the group are bad enough, with the animated trees and mutated, multi-legged beasties, but the worms scare even them! Also, this is the first ‘living’ thing that Moiraine and Lan have not even attempted to face . . . yikes!
I also wonder what they would have faced in the high passes that could have been so bad that the worms would not venture into them. It seems like we find one big bad, only to see it replaced with something much, much worse!
3. We got to meet the Green Man! We discussed last week what everyone thought he would look like, how did he measure up to your expectations? What did you think of his head scar?
He was pretty much as I had expected: a man-shape made up of plants.
I wondered if his scar was a reflection of the Blight scarring the face of the land, but it could be due to some incident in the past. He seems to have lived a very long time and I assume he has been fighting the Dark One for all that time, so an injury would be feasible. I also thought that his memory problems could be due to some sort of brain damage associated with the wound, but they might also be simply due to his great age.
4. The epic battle ended up being mostly in the dream realm apparently, what did you think of Rand's various battles?
I was unsure of where the battles took place. Rand’s defeat of the Trolloc army seemed to occur in reality, with the human forces able to see something happening. However, I am not sure if he was actually there or if he simply projected an image of himself along with his power. As for the battle with Aginor, I would not like to guess where it happened.
In some ways, this lack of clarity is rather frustrating, but it does help us to understand how confusing it is to Rand. His overwhelming power is emphasized by his ability to overcome one of the Forsaken even though he has no training in how to wield the One Power. Perhaps his vision of what happened is simply his brain’s attempt to translate all this new input into a form that makes some sense. I am worried by his strength because I am not sure how he is going to learn how to control it.
5. Congratulations everyone, we finished! What did you think overall? If this was a re-read for you, how was the second time around? Are you planning to read book two (with or without us, no pressure, hehe)?
I have forgotten how many times I have read this title in the past: every time a new title came out I would begin at start of the series . . . until, eventually, I decided until the whole series was finished before attempting it again.
I was surprised at how much I enjoyed this time through: I had been worried that it might not live up to my memories of it. I could still remember many of the broad outlines, but I was still swept up by the story and carried along just like everyone else. The main characters are real and interesting, making me empathize with them and care about their well-being. The supporting cast is entertaining and also intriguing, with the suggestion that they have wonderful back-stories of their own to explore. This is particularly evident with Thom, Moiraine and Lan, but I get the feeling that a whole book could be written about Elyas, for example. The world building is wonderfully detailed and describes a rich history and patchwork of cultures.
I am excited to read on and have already signed up for the RAL for The Great Hunt! :)
Were you surprised to find out when Rand used the One Power for the first time, on Bella? I thought that was really cute and a very interesting way to introduce his emotion-led ability to use his talent in times of desperate need.