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Shivertongue

The Great Reread - The Fires of Heaven

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THIS THREAD WILL MOST LIKELY CONTAIN SPOILERS.

Discussion thread for the Great Reread, pertaining to book 5, The Fires of Heaven. This is the fifth book, and you should probably not be here if you have not read the four books that came before it. Unless you're some kind of weirdo who enjoys reading things out of order.

For information and to join The Great Reread, please go here.

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FINISHED!

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Okay something I completely forgot... Elaynes crush (I'm not sure if that's what it is or what else you would call it) on Thom. Brings so many Freudian theories to my mind. Anyways interesting nonetheless. Man I just realized how much I've forgotten since the last time I've read these books.

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One of the things I didn't love the first time through was their time with Luca's show, but on the reread, those were some of my favorite parts of the book, primarily because it was the first time we got to see a healthy helping of humor.

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Finished Fires of Heaven the other day, much faster than I thought I would. I forgot how these books suck me in, to the point where I can't put them down easily. Beginning to wonder if I should have started this in October or something...

Anyway, I've always loved this one. Has some of my favorite scenes in it - as well as the one that started me on the road to disliking Egwene, which I still do. I'm still holding on to the hope that she'll fail at something in AMoL.

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I think her big fail moment was taken care of when she was taken prisoner and held as a damane. Only Rand has even come close to something like that. I am almost to the raising in LoC; her main goal so far is just to learn as much as she possibly can. That she becomes uber arrogant later is largely part of her position. She is not my favorite female char in the series, but I am not disliking her so much the second time around.

I had forgotten that Moraine was missing for so many books also.

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I think her big fail moment was taken care of when she was taken prisoner and held as a damane. Only Rand has even come close to something like that. I am almost to the raising in LoC; her main goal so far is just to learn as much as she possibly can. That she becomes uber arrogant later is largely part of her position. She is not my favorite female char in the series, but I am not disliking her so much the second time around.

I had forgotten that Moraine was missing for so many books also.

I would disagree, actually.

See, in my mind the "Moment of Failure" is an instance where there is no benefit, no turning it to your advantage, and nothing you can do but pick up the pieces and move on. It's unique to the character, deeply personal, and usually results in some form of positive growth for them. Egwene being captured as a damane came close to this, but in the end, it made her stronger in the Power and decidedly worked to her advantage.

Contrast with the other Moments of Failure that other characters have endured.

• Perrin's charging into the Trolloc ambush in Shadow Rising, and losing several Emond's Fielder's he'd known forever. After that, there was nothing he could do to change things but move on and try to make sure it didn't happen again.

• For Min - one of my favorite characters - it might be a little more ambiguous, but I think she takes it hard every time she fails to protect Rand. Admittedly, she doesn't have a lot of power, but she does everything she can to help him in every way she can, and even small failures - especially with interpreting viewings - can have catastrophic results for her.

• Mat has several, but the one I like the most is at the end of Fires of Heaven, when he's trying to leave, but he ends up leading a small army and killing Couladin. Admittedly, what he failed at doing was getting away, but that was the moment when he realized he could no longer run from things, and it's the moment where he became one of my favorite characters. It also shows that the Moment of Failure doesn't need to be major to the plot, or be a failure in doing something good.

• Nynaeve has had several as well, and while it might not fit the criteria exactly, one such was when Moghedian attacked the boat she was on in aCoS, and she nearly died before she finally gave in and broke her block.

• Aviendha failed, in a similar manner to Mat, at keeping herself from falling in love with Rand. For nearly two books she had been trying to avoid it, doing everything she could to avoid it, and then... couldn't anymore. She's had a few others as well, but this was a big one for me.

• And we can't forget Rand. He's had many, the biggest being - arguably - at the end of The Gathering Storm, when he almost destroys everything in a fit of extreme anger and sorrow.

Those were just a few examples off the top of my head, and I hope they made sense. Every character, though, has had this moment, some of them before the story began. It's that moment that changes them, usually for the better, and - in my eyes, at least - turns them into a more complete character. My personal philosophy is that learning how to handle failure is one of the most important things a person can learn, and in the end makes them a much stronger person.

Maybe I'm being picky when it comes to her, because she's one of my least favorite characters, but Egwene just hasn't had that yet. So not only is she annoyingly arrogant, but she comes across to me as an incomplete character compared to everyone else.

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I'm only about a third of the way through FoH and I am remembering why this isn't my favorite of the series. At times it just seems to drag on. Onto Egwene, this time through I am much more aware of her growing ego, especially on her dealings with Nyn. She really turns into an unlikable person.

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Replying to self, go me!

Anyway, finished Fires of Heaven this morning and I have to confess what happened in this and the next 2 books had all seemingly blended together in my head. I think that it was because I picked up the series around when book 7 was published, so I rushed through all of these waiting for Path of Daggers.

One thing that bothered me on my first read through, and this one too, is the entire Morgase situation. It seed kind of sad and pathetic, especially how it just kind of fizzled.

Lanfear has definitely got some Style. Moiraine took herself up a few notches with her actions (of course I remembered them) and I can't wait to see what she does in the last book.

I did miss Perrin. This is the first book where one of the main PoV characters was largely absent, and it is sad. Perrin has more of the everyman quality about him than Mat or Rand, so he was sorely missed. Yes, he has the whole Wolfbrother thing going on, but it seems to be less mystical than Jesus-Rand or Mat and the Dark One's luck. Though, when we get to the book that really doesn't show any Mat, I think all of fandom basically sh** a brick and wanted to know how the hell RJ could write a book without Mat in it in any substantial way.

Those are my random thoughts, oh, one last one. How far back to you think that Rahvin was removed from the pattern. A "thicker than a man" chunk of balefire has got to remove him for at least a few days I would think. Okay, this brought up another thing I noticed. Nynaeve seems to have some sort of enhanced awareness when she is in TAR. She notices that Rahvin turned into Mist before he disappeared, and she also noticed Moggy in the window. Now, maybe it was just chance, but I find it interesting that she noticed those things as well. Also, she was able to pick up on Siuan and Leanne playing their double-game to the Aes Sedai in Salidar. I can't remember if this awareness pops up anywhere else, but I noticed something.

Cheers!

Edit: Okay, I'll edit this one. In a prior thread I posted about who would win in a battle, Mat, Gawyn, or Galad. I think after seeing Galad in action in Samara that he would win. He is just too damnation perfect. Though, it was his fault there is a war there, that makes up for his beauty and perfection, I guess.

Edited by frozndevl
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Well, most of the examples above used to demonstrate the "fails" of the other characters do not even compare to being enslaved and tortured like the Seachan did to Egwene.

Perrin comes out of the battle as Lord to his people and Fain was exposed. He gains leadership and battle experience that comes to be of greater importance later in the series.

You can't really count stopping yourself from falling in love as a "failure."

Min's viewing and not being able to stop the results can't be counted as a failure either.

Can you really count acting honorably as a failure for anyone other than Galad? That excludes most of Mat's actions.

Other than the Galina's actions in LoC, Rand's biggest failure throughout the series is avoiding bloodshed. There are times when he should have killed someone and didn't that come to bite him later. Galina's actions even turn out to have some positive results for Rand.

Yes, Egwene did learn some tricks of the power that she would not have if she never met the Seachan, but they do not really compare to the number of AS that flocked to Rand after his major fail.

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Perrin comes out of the battle as Lord to his people and Fain was exposed. He gains leadership and battle experience that comes to be of greater importance later in the series.

You can't really count stopping yourself from falling in love as a "failure."

Min's viewing and not being able to stop the results can't be counted as a failure either.

Can you really count acting honorably as a failure for anyone other than Galad? That excludes most of Mat's actions.

Other than the Galina's actions in LoC, Rand's biggest failure throughout the series is avoiding bloodshed. There are times when he should have killed someone and didn't that come to bite him later. Galina's actions even turn out to have some positive results for Rand.

Yes, Egwene did learn some tricks of the power that she would not have if she never met the Seachan, but they do not really compare to the number of AS that flocked to Rand after his major fail.

Perrin comes out of the battle as something he hates - he doesn't want to be a lord, nobility, it's forced upon him but he can't back away from it because he's realised he can make a difference due to his ta'veren nature. Perrin was the critical thinker of the three, he would've seen that he couldn't just go back to being a blacksmith like he wanted.

Aviendha stopped herself from falling in love for Elayne's sake; her "sister." It was a personal failure as she'd told Elayne no-one would come between her [Elayne] and Rand, and then she came between them herself. She broke a promise.

No, but Min's misreading of a viewing that affects a person's actions and the catastrophic consequences can be.

When it goes against the character who's perspective of honour is different then yes. Mat doesn't believe in fighting for honour, only that he keeps getting roped into events that he can't dissuade and eventually accepts the flow. He's a Reluctant Hero trope.

Except Galina's actions also traumatize Rand for a good five books. He becomes claustrophobic, mistrusts Aes Sedai even more to the point of irrationality. I believe this event also serves towards Rand's developing cynicism and disgust with the world. Maybe it's not the driving force but it was definitely a catalyst.

Rand is ta'veren and the Dragon Reborn. But he's certainly failed massively at other points in the books.

For one he failed to ally with the Seanchan in Arad Doman, storming out of the meeting place only to be told all the grain supplies had spoiled. That would mean he was leaving behind thousands of people to starve.

And more than enough people have died from Rand's actions that he could have otherwise prevented. Every single one of those people he could've protected and saved is a failure on his behalf.

Edited by Lyrebon
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Well, most of the examples above used to demonstrate the "fails" of the other characters do not even compare to being enslaved and tortured like the Seachan did to Egwene.

Perrin comes out of the battle as Lord to his people and Fain was exposed. He gains leadership and battle experience that comes to be of greater importance later in the series.

You can't really count stopping yourself from falling in love as a "failure."

Min's viewing and not being able to stop the results can't be counted as a failure either.

Can you really count acting honorably as a failure for anyone other than Galad? That excludes most of Mat's actions.

Other than the Galina's actions in LoC, Rand's biggest failure throughout the series is avoiding bloodshed. There are times when he should have killed someone and didn't that come to bite him later. Galina's actions even turn out to have some positive results for Rand.

Yes, Egwene did learn some tricks of the power that she would not have if she never met the Seachan, but they do not really compare to the number of AS that flocked to Rand after his major fail.

Once again, I disagree. First, the examples I gave are not the only ones that exist; many more do.

Second, you have to examine it from each character's perspective. Yes, Perrin ended up a Lord, but that was a result of strong leadership based on decisions he made after that Moment of Failure. And he has had others since. Moments of Failure often lead into Moments of Awesome, but the Failure itself is absolute. Perrin failed to protect twenty-six Two River's boys who had chosen to follow him. He wasn't blamed for it by anyone but himself, but it was a major failure in his mind and informed everything he did since.

- Aviendha's was not so much "failing to avoid falling in love" as it was "failing to avoid fate". Or perhaps "failing to keep a promise she had made", regarding Elayne, which was a breach of trust and, in Aviendha's eyes, meant she had toh to Elayne.

- With Min, I didn't say stop the results. I said interpreting incorrectly. There is a difference. Again, look at it from the perspective of the character; she wants nothing more than to help Rand. She can't channel, she doesn't know politics, but she has a special gift, and she tries to use it to his advantage as best she can.

- Yes, I can count that as a failure. It's specific to each character; Mat wanted to get away, and he wasn't able to. His better nature won out in the end, and he was drawn to his role in the Pattern.

And if we got to get into "who's had it worst," let me point out some minor instances Rand has gone through. Not all of them are Moments of Failure - only some of them are - but all of them have been torturous to Rand.

* His mother's soul being held hostage by Ba'alzamon. Whether it was an illusion or not, Rand didn't know, and either way, seeing your mother - who has been dead for almost twenty years - in horrible and apparently never-ending pain is not a pleasant thing.

* Living through hundreds of alternate realities in which everything goes wrong and ends with your death, and knowledge that the Dark One has apparently been victorious. Many of these lives - all of which were real within the mind, and could have been actual alternate realities - involved the deaths of people he cared about as well.

* Finding out that he is the Dragon Reborn. This may not seem like much, but remember that the Dragon Reborn, despite being the prophesised savior, is also the prophesized destroyer, and is feared as much as the Forsaken. Even simply being a male channeler did major damage to his psyche - remember, men who can channel are the stuff of nightmares and frightening stories in Randland.

* Being betrayed by the Tower delegation, shoved in a box, seeing Min abused, and being beaten at sunup and sundown for several weeks and developing horrible claustrophobia. The experience is what led to Rand's constant determination to "harden" himself, which has been a descent into darkness I haven't seen done nearly as well or nearly as terrifying in any other book ever. This wasn't made any better when he was taken captive in Far Madding, kept in a tiny cell, and almost sold to the Tower.

* Going briefly insane with Callandor against the Seanchan, killing many of his own men and nearly himself in the process.

* Being put in an a'dam that was being controlled by Semirhage and one of the Black Ajah and being forced to strangle one of the women he loves and see the fear in her eyes.

Those are just a handful. And all of these led in a downward spiral that ended with Rand almost destroying the world. And I'm not even factoring in what he does to himself every time a woman dies for him, nor the terror Padan Fain as caused.

So yeah, I disagree with you that nothing compares to being enslaved by the Seanchan. If you want to consider that a failure for Egwene, you can, but she hasn't had another one in eleven books now. Her character growth has been stagnant since she became Amrylin, which is also around the point I started really disliking her. Everything is too easy, she succeeds at whatever plan she comes up with, and for these reasons her story has no tension whatsoever.

I could go on, but I'm tired. If you want to know my perspective on Egwene, this post, this post, and this post sum up my thoughts very nicely. The entire thread, in fact, is an interesting debate between Egwene-supporters and Egwene-dislikers, both sides of which present their arguments very well.

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about one third through FoH. Fain just retrieved his dagger in the Tower.

When I read the prologue it escaped me, but this time I thought about Fain at the end of TSR. He had planned to go to Caemlyn before he went to the Tower. Yet, in the prologue he is already with Elaida.

What did he do in Caemlyn? Assuming he really got there. He already pursues his own goals at that point. The evil of Shadar Logoth has replaced most of his Darkfriend-side. But he's still going for Rand instead of Shayol Ghul.

I never thought about it before. But the Shadar Logoth evil destroys everything that is from the Shadow, so it destroyed those parts in Fain. That may be the reason why Fain has not been destroyed by the former. I don't know how Fain managed to carry away part of the evil instead. Moiraine told us in TEotW that you needed to carry away some part of Shadar Logoth to free it. Fain however does not seem to carry something. Could that evil just seep into him, so it could destroy the changings the DO had done to Fain, and thus be carried away?

It seems clear to me, that Fain has slowly become the evil of Shadar Logoth itself, at least after the city was destroyed. His power over everything with a connection to the Shadow proves that.

So when he left the Two Rivers, Fain had two main goals. Destroy Rand and destroy the Shadow. So far Rand did not have any connection to Caemlyn, so that might not be what he intended to do in Caemlyn.

If it was to battle the Shadow, Caemlyn surely had some connection with the Shadow at that time. Rhavin posing as Gabriel, replacing the Guards with the White Lions.

The Black Ajah only get to Caemlyn later, on orders of Moghedien probably.

Does anybody have an idea, what Fain could have done in Caemlyn?

Another thought that popped into my head. Could Fain cut a gholam with his dagger? I suppose he could.

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I'm just finishing this book up. This is my 3rd read through of the series, and it's interesting how my view of this book has changed over time, perhaps more than any other book.

I remember my first time through being perhaps a little disappointed by this book; not really anything specific to this book, but just as the series began to be less centered on the characters I really cared about and spend more time on things like Andoran politics, and Aes Sedai and Rebel Aes Sedai plotting and counter-plotting. This is the first book where Rand's part of the plot can be summed in about a sentence without missing much. "Rand leads the Aiel out of the Waste, chasing Couladin's army, and defeats Couladin at Cairhrien, before Skimming to Andor to kill Rahvin." (I'm not being -entirely- fair here, but not entirely unfair either.)

My second time and third time through, though, I found that I liked this book much more. What really makes this book, and what I mostly associate this book with is Moiraine. Moiraine is easily my favorite female character in the Wheel of Time series, and a good part of that is from this book here. She's the first, and one of the only characters (particularly among the females) to realize that winning the Last Battle is more important than her own ego. I thought Moiraine showed a lot of maturity for doing so in this book, and was frustrated that no one else seems to figure out the same in the next 6-8 books, instead we get many books of people who try to control Rand (Elaida and the tower), people who manipulate him (the nobles), or whatever you'd call how Cadsuane treats him.

But I do miss Perrin.

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