A Crown of Swords – Part 2

I’m about 2/3 of the way through the book now, and for one thing I should probably have started to write out my thoughts before having to take a Thursday, Friday, and Saturday off from reading.  Anyway, this section of the book deals with quite a few different viewpoints spread throughout the world, and there’s a lot going on here.

The first thing to talk about involves another Aes Sedai who is intent on working with Rand – sort of.  Cadsuane is introduced in this book, and in more than one way she is one of the strongest characters in the entire series.  She is one of the strongest Aes Sedai in the world, and one of the oldest (in a brief section from her viewpoint, she says it’s been 270 years since she found something she couldn’t accomplish).  Within the power structure of the Aes Sedai, she is easily the strongest of those in Cairhien with Rand, and she quickly takes over among them.  She might be the best example of the strong female characters that Jordan used to populate his world, and she shows it from the first scene she appears in.

Nynaeve and Elayne have been irritating me for quite some time, but they’re finally starting to get a little better, since they finally decided to ask Mat to help them search for the Bowl of the Winds.  The problem with this is that Elayne acknowledges that Mat is lucky and will probably be able to find the bowl fairly quickly.  If you know about his luck, and you know that you need the bowl to fix the weather, why were you avoiding his help in the first place?  Their blatant stupidity in that regard is probably the single most annoying part of the entire series to me thus far.  And while Elayne doesn’t really want to use Mat’s help, Nynaeve is adamantly against asking him to do anything at all.

Even though I can’t stand Nynaeve’s behavior, it does work well to illustrate some of the differences in power that I’ve talked about before.  There are a lot of different ways that the characters acquire power throughout the story, but they constantly have to deal with shifts of power, both their own and that of those they have to deal with.  Most of the characters deal with the shifts fairly well, and Nynaeve is clearly the person who doesn’t.  Rand, Mat, Perrin, Egwene, Elayne, Aviendha, Siuan, and even Moiraine deal with the shifting powers readily throughout the book, but Nynaeve struggles with it constantly.  It seems as though she has actively tried to stay exactly the same throughout the course of the series, and that just doesn’t work.  You have to be willing to constantly change according to your situation, and if you’re not you end up looking like a fool half the time, which Nynaeve has been doing a good job of for some time now.

This book also has quite a few sections from the viewpoints of the Forsaken and other villains.  Most notable in this section is a chapter from Moghedian’s point of view where we find out more about how the balance of power is for those who serve the shadow.  One of the Forsaken is sent to see the Dark One groveling on her hands and knees, and then has part of her soul trapped and given to Moridin, who is another enemy introduced here in the story.  This is also (I believe) the first mention of the “True Power” which is drawn from the Dark One, as opposed to the One Power that is split into Saidar and Saidin.  The layers of intrigue just keep getting piled higher in this book, and it’s not going to stop any time soon.

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