The Wheel of Time Reread

The Wheel of Time Re-read: The Shadow Rising, Part 3

Happy Friday, guys and gals. It’s Wheel of Time Re-read time, time and time again, time. Now it doesn’t look like a word anymore, does it? Mwhahaha.

I give you The Shadow Rising, Part 3, in which we will be covering slightly fewer chapters than previously advertised, because the flu sucks. So, Chapters 9-12, which oughta tide youse guys over for now.

Previous entries are here, in our ever-burgeoning Index. These and all other posts in this blog series contain massive spoilers for all currently published books in the Wheel of Time series, so if you haven’t read, don’t read.

And I think that about brings us up to speed, eh? So, let’s be getting on to it, shall we?

Chapter 9: Decisions

What Happens
Three days pass in a heat wave that makes everyone in Tear sluggish except, ironically, the people not native to the city. Mat discovers he was right about the Tairen lords avoiding him after the playing card incident, and additionally some of the formerly friendly maidservants are staying away from him too. Thom and Perrin seem to be wrapped up in their own affairs, and the one person Mat wishes would avoid him, Moiraine, seems to always be popping up at odd moments in his vicinity. Once he goes down to the Great Holding to look at the doorway ter’angreal Egwene had told him about, but is spooked and leaves after only a few minutes. Mat takes to hanging out in dangerous waterfront taverns; Perrin sees him there often, being unusually irritable and reckless, but does not have time to deal with him. Perrin is searching for rumors that will entice Faile away from the Stone, but he is not having much luck thus far; most of what he hears is outdated, garbled versions of things he had been there for, and the rest – rumors of riots in Ghealdan, madness in Illian, famine in Cairhien – sounds more dangerous than staying in Tear. In addition, he can’t tell her where he’s been going, because she would be sure to ask why, and she has taken to giving him long, silent stares.

Egwene and Nynaeve continue to interrogate Amico and Joiya, with little result; no word has come from Tar Valon, and though this does not seem to trouble Moiraine, Egwene frets over it, as she frets over whether Tanchico is a trap or not. Aviendha has taken to visiting with Egwene, and despite her wariness over Egwene being Aes Sedai (or so she believes), they are becoming friends, often giggling together like girls. Aviendha does not understand why Elayne (or Egwene on Elayne’s behalf) has not done “something drastic” to Berelain; in her mind, since none of them are wedded to the spear there is nothing barring them from doing so. Nynaeve spends her time walking with Lan, and trying to cook him things, and Elayne arranges to be present whenever Rand has a spare moment, to walk and talk and more often than not grab a moment or two in a secluded nook somewhere. She is uncomfortable at first with the Aiel guards that always trail them everywhere, but soon enters into a kind of conspiracy with the Maidens to find out of the way places, which they regard as great sport. To her surprise, Rand often asks her about matters of state, and pays close attention to her replies, and she thinks she could have loved him for that alone. When Rand is not with Elayne, he issues orders to the High Lords, and pops in to secret meetings that Thom had tipped him off about. He knows he has to find an outlet for them before they turn on him, but he refuses to consider Moiraine’s notion of starting a war. Although she is right that he could not react to the Forsaken, but rather make them react to him, and he worries that he is putting off making his decision because of Elayne:

Three days of stolen kisses, when he could forget he was anything but a man with his arms around a woman. He knew it for a foolish reason, if true. He was relieved she did not seem to want more than his company, but in those moments alone he could forget decisions, forget the fate awaiting the Dragon Reborn.

On the evening of the third day, Rand is in his chambers with Meilan and Sunamon, where he tosses the treaty draft they gave him back in their faces, infuriated that they had used his idea to send grain to Illian to try and land two thousand troops led by Torean on Mayene soil. Meilan says smoothly that Torean has interests in Mayene.

“He has an interest in forcing his attentions on a woman who won’t look at him!” Rand shouted. “Grain for ships, I said! No soldiers. And certainly no bloody Torean! Have you even spoken to Berelain?”

They blinked at him as if they did not understand the words. It was too much. He snatched at saidin; the vellum in Meilan’s arms erupted into flame. With a yell, Meilan hurled the fiery bundle into the bare fireplace and hurriedly brushed at sparks and scorch marks on his red silk coat. Sunamon stared at the burning sheets, which were crackling and turning black, with his mouth hanging open.

Rand tells them, suddenly quiet, that if they do not bring Berelain exactly the treaty he told them to, he will hang them both, and then throws them out. After, Rand is not sure if he’s more disgusted with them or with himself. He looks at the herons branded on his palms, and, referring to the verse in the Prophecies, wonders why Dragons are necessary as well. And what exactly was a Dragon, anyway? He supposes it could be the creature on the banner, but he doesn’t know for sure.

“You are changed from when I last saw you. Stronger. Harder.”

Rand spins, and sees Selene standing by the door. He hurries to her, asking how she got here. He thinks that she is still the most beautiful woman he’s ever seen, but her presence doesn’t seem to affect him the same as before. Selene frowns and says that he has been marked, but no matter; he is hers, and she will lay claim to what is hers openly now. Rand is confused, but tells her gently that there was never anything but companionship between them. She smiles.

“Selene is only a name I sometimes use, Lews Therin. The name I made my own is Lanfear.”

Rand laughs uncertainly, taking this for a poor joke at first, but then, staring at her face, reaches for saidin, and finds himself blocked. He backs away, toward Callandor, but hits an invisible wall, and Lanfear tells him she cannot trust him yet, and certainly not with Callandor. He growls for her to stop calling him “Lews Therin”, and she laughs and says that is who he is, even though physically nothing is the same except the height. She asks if he would like to see her true appearance, and Rand thinks of the way Aginor and Balthamel looked at the Eye, but she shimmers and reappears as much the same, only more mature, and even more beautiful if possible. She is pleased at his reaction, and says the time for subterfuge is past. He asks if she means to kill him, then.

“Kill you?” she spat incredulously. “Kill you! I mean to have you, forever. You were mine long before that pale-haired milksop stole you. Before she ever saw you. You loved me!”

“And you loved power!” For a moment he felt dazed. The words sounded true—he knew they were true—but where had they come from?

Lanfear is startled too, but recovers and tells him he has learned fast, but not fast enough. Soon the others will come for him, but there are those who could teach him. Rand asks incredulously, she wants one of the Forsaken to teach him? He’d refuse even if such a thing was offered. She tells him that the reason the Forsaken fear him is because they worry that the Great Lord will place him over them; the Great Lord told her he would exalt Rand over all other men. Rand scoffs, saying the Dark One can’t be free, and Lanfear counters that nonetheless, if you go to Shayol Ghul, you can bathe in his presence, and she looks ecstatic at the memory. She tells him that the Great Lord requires that he bend his knee only once, and then will be free to rule as he wishes. With Asmodean to teach him, and her at his side, they can destroy all the others, and rule under the Great Lord together, forever.

Her voice dropped to a whisper, equal parts eagerness and fear. “Two great sa’angreal were made just before the end, one that you can use, one that I can. Far greater than that sword. Their power is beyond imagining. With those, we could challenge even… the Great Lord himself. Even the Creator!”

Rand tells her she’s mad, and refuses. She considers, and tells him she could take him with her, see him turned to the Shadow whatever he wants. He tries again to reach for saidin, and searches the room for a weapon, to no avail. She says to herself she won’t take him; she wants him to come of his own free will. As she’s speaking Rand realizes that he saw a man slipping in the door with a knife; he pushes her out of the way and reaches for saidin, and the shield blocking him disappears and lets him. He calls up his fire sword and dispatches the Gray Man, then looks at Lanfear and says this makes no sense, for her to have sent a Gray Man when she could have killed him easily. Lanfear replies that she does not use the Soulless, and it seems she came a day late. She asks if he means to try to kill her now, after she let him loose to defend himself.

Her voice, her stance, said she expected an attack, or at the very least was ready to counter it, but that was not what stopped him, any more than her loosing the bonds in the first place. She was one of the Forsaken; she had served evil so long she made a Black sister look like a newborn babe. Yet he saw a woman. He called himself nine kinds of fool, but he could not do it. Maybe if she tried to kill him. Maybe. But all she did was stand there, watching, waiting.

Suddenly he realizes that there was no sound from the Aiel who should be guarding the doors, and asks Lanfear harshly what she did to them. She tells him not to go out there, but he ignores her, and throws the door open to a scene of madness.

 

Commentary
Sigh. Lanfear. Still crazier than a sack of syphilitic weasels, I see. And Rand won’t kill her. Of course, he might not have survived trying, at this stage, but still. Rigid code of ethics for the Lose! The worst part is that she takes his hesitation as proof that he Wuvs her, when really it’s his blanket hangup about hurting women in general – at least I think it is.

And you know, it’s not that I want to disparage a lack of desire to victimize women, far from it, but the problem with this whole equality thing is that ideally there can’t be a double standard either way – meaning whether in the opposite party’s favor or not. Of course, the problem with that is the incredibly unpleasant reality that physically, at least, women in general are weaker than men, and therefore you run into the minefield of whether equality in this respect is actually, well, equalizing, or whether it just puts the advantage right back in the man’s court. This is an ugly knotty problem in the real world, which we are not going to solve here.

In this particular fictional scenario, however, the point really ought to be moot. Considered strictly from a strength standpoint and leaving out all other factors, Lanfear is supposed to be the second-most powerful channeler ever, male or female. Not to mention that whole thing about having about three thousand years of training and experience on Rand. So even leaving aside the fact that she’s, you know, completely frickin’ evil, she cannot by any sane measure be considered the weaker party here.

But of course, Rand’s Thing about not hurting women is not (in my opinion) connected to anything remotely so logical as a desire not to hurt people weaker than he is. Which is sort of a good thing, since technically that includes just about everyone, especially later on, but it’s also frustrating because it’s the kind of kneejerk cultural imperative that is impossible to reason with because of its very lack of reasonable motive. It’s a tautology: you don’t hurt women because they’re women, and you don’t hurt women. It’s the kind of ethics that seem noble on the surface but are almost contemptible once examined in any depth. Probably because they have none. There’s no virtue in happening to do a right thing if you don’t even examine why it’s worth doing – or that there might be cases where it might not be worth doing.

And to add insult to stupidity, it’s a stance that takes away any consideration of the woman in question as an individual, leaving you right back where you don’t want to be – judged solely by your gender instead of as a human being.

You want ideal? I say, you should decide not to hurt me because I don’t deserve to be hurt, not because I happen to have a vagina. So don’t hurt me, and TAKE DOWN THE EVIL MURDERING PSYCHO TALKING TO YOU, mmkay?

Sigh. Anyway. Here, whose soap box is this?

(This is not to imply, by the way, that I think this indicates bad writing on Jordan’s part. The precise reason Rand’s binary approach to ethics is so frustrating is because there are so many real people who are just like him, on this front at least.)

Moving on, we also have here a rather momentous event that, like the first time Rand channeled in TEOTW, I completely missed the first time around – namely, the first very subtle appearance of Lews Therin. Or at least one of his memories. And so it begins, y’all.

The earlier part of the chapter is interesting, in that it’s the first time the narrative jumps from POV to POV without indicating the shift by a line break. In three pages we go from Mat to Perrin to Egwene to Elayne to Rand without a pause. I’m not going to go so far as to say it breaks the rules, because really the author can manage point of view however he wants as long as the reader can follow it, but it is certainly inconsistent with how command of the camera (to borrow the cinematic term for the same thing) has been handled prior to this.


Chapter 10: The Stone Stands

What Happens
Rand finds the Aiel guards dead, tangled with the corpses of three more Gray Men, and sees beyond them the Defenders in the anteroom fighting desperately against Trollocs and a Myrddraal. The Fade kills two men in one move, and Rand shouts at it to draw its attention, and leaps to engage, ignoring the shout of “Fool!” he hears from behind him. He fights the Fade, almost losing, before slicing its head off; the Trollocs all go down with the Fade. The surviving Defenders finish off the Trollocs, and stare at Rand uncertainly. More fighting noises come from the corridor, and Rand tells the men to follow him; after a moment, they obey, taking up his call that “The Stone stands!” Rand quickly finds corpses littering the hallways, and then isolated pitched battles all over the place, Trollocs fighting Aiel, or Defenders, or both; at one point he actually sees Trollocs fighting other Trollocs. Rand plunges in, losing some men, gaining others, until none of his original group is still with him. He sees Moiraine and Lan fighting Trollocs, but is swept away by another attack before he can do anything. Soon after he finds himself alone, and is taken by surprise by three Trollocs; he kills one, but slips and is almost brained by one of the others, only to be saved by a fourth Trolloc, who splits Rand’s attacker’s skull open, snarls at Rand, and runs off. Rand is dumbfounded, and even more so when he sees down a corridor two Fades fighting each other. Suddenly Lanfear appears, telling him he wastes time with that silly sword, when he could kill them all with one stroke. Rand demands to know if she sent the Trolloc that saved him, and she decides not to take credit, lest he expect it again; “the others” do not know where she stands, and she prefers it that way. She will not aid him openly.

“Expect your aid?” he growled. “You want me to turn to the Shadow. You can’t make me forget what you are with soft words.” He channeled, and she slammed against a wall hanging hard enough to make her grunt. He held her there, spread-eagled over a woven hunting scene, feet off the floor and snowy gown spread out and flattened. How had he blocked Egwene and Elayne? He had to remember.

Suddenly he flew across the hallway to crash into the wall opposite Lanfear, pressed there like an insect by something that barely allowed him to breathe.

Lanfear appeared to have no trouble breathing. “Whatever you can do, Lews Therin, I can do. And better.”

Calmly, she asks him where Callandor is; back up in his bedchamber, while he runs around down here. What if Sammael is here, and takes it? He struggles against the flows holding him, to no avail, until she suddenly lets him go. He looks at her, still pinned to the wall, and tries to decide whether to leave her there, until she takes the decision from him and severs his flows, dropping to the floor. He gasps that she can’t do that, and she smiles and reminds him about Callandor. He hesitates a moment more, then runs through the Stone, not stopping to fight, not even when he sees Perrin and Faile fighting back to back in a corridor. He reaches his bedchamber and finds Callandor right where he left it, but now is reluctant to take it up. Slowly, he picks it up. He turns to see a Fade at the door, looking at Callandor, and as it turns to flee, he turns it into ashes in a second.

Rand was not even aware he had channeled until it was done; he could not have said what he had done if his life had depended upon it. But nothing could threaten his life while he held Callandor. The Power throbbed in him like the heartbeat of the world. With Callandor in his hands, he could do anything.

He heads back into the Stone, incinerating every Shadowspawn he sees. Soon he is running, but it is still not fast enough. He has to do something else. Without understanding what he is doing, he creates a concentrated swirling vortex of Power over his head.

Now. The thought floated like cackling laughter on the rim of his awareness. He severed the flows rushing out of him, leaving the thing still whirling, whining like a drill on bone. Now.

And the lightnings came, flashing out along the ceiling left and right like silver streams. A Myrddraal stepped out of a side corridor, and before it could take a second step half a dozen flaring streaks stabbed down, blasting it apart. The other streams flowed on, fanning down every branching of the corridor, replaced by more and more erupting every second.

Rand feels the lightning killing every Trolloc and Myrddraal in the Stone, and thinks that with Callandor he could kill all the Shadowspawn in the world, except that it would kill him to do so. As the lightnings fade, he sees Moiraine standing there, shocked. Lan comes up behind her, and she holds up a hand, warning him not to go closer to Rand. She asks if he is all right, and Rand sees the corpse of a young girl nearby, and is overcome with grief that he didn’t save her in time. Moiraine tells him there is nothing he can do for the child, but Rand tells her he can do anything with Callandor, and channels at the body, trying to Heal it, or reanimate it. Moiraine tells him death cannot be Healed, and he is not the Creator; finally he gives up, and lets saidin go. He asks if the others are all right, and Moiraine assures him that they are. He asks how the Trollocs got in, and Lan explains that they were hidden in grain barges that docked at the Stone. Rand’s knees buckle, and Moiraine takes his head in her hands and washes away his fatigue. He tells her that Lanfear was here, and did not try to kill him, nor he her, and then observes that Moiraine does not seem surprised. Moiraine replies that little is known about Lanfear, except that she loved Lews Therin Telamon; Moiraine does not think Lanfear will try to kill Rand as long as she thinks to get that love back.

It was nearly enough to make him laugh. He had always felt guilty for looking at any woman besides Egwene, and Egwene did not want him, but the Daughter-Heir of Andor wanted to kiss him, at least, and one of the Forsaken claimed to love him. Nearly enough for laughter, but not quite. Lanfear seemed jealous of Elayne; that pale-haired milksop, she had called her. Madness. All madness.

Rand starts to walk away, and tells Moiraine “Tomorrow”. She asks what that means, and he tells her that tomorrow, he will tell her what he’s going to do.

Commentary
Yeah, I don’t think after reading this that there is any doubt Jordan intended the flaw in Callandor from the beginning. I guess that’s one way of keeping your All-Powerful Magical Thingummy from ruining the plot; if Rand could just use Callandor any old time he wanted, well, the books would be shorter, but also way more boring.

I originally thought that Callandor was another plot device that went off the rails in the same way as the Eye of the World. It’s built up so much in TDR, and then Rand finally gets it and kicks ass with it… and then basically throws it in a safe for four books. But then I consider what happens when Rand finally does try to use it again in The Path of Daggers, and I don’t know. For one thing, at least Callandor does show up again, unlike the Eye, and it’s not like Jordan couldn’t have realized from the start that he was going to have to put some kind of limitation on it. So, contrived? A little, maybe. But I’ll go with it, I guess.

Lanfear: all other issues with Rand’s, uh, issues aside, I don’t blame him at all for being ten times more freaked out to find that a Forsaken is in love with him than finding out that a Forsaken wants to kill him. At least the latter makes some kind of sense.

We find out later that some of the Trollocs were one Forsaken’s, and some were another Forsaken’s sent to head off the first Forsaken at the pass, and I know we find out who they are, but I can’t remember at the moment for sure – I think Semirhage sent the “rescue” Trollocs, foiling Sammael’s henchmen? – but I can’t remember why, and I’m not even sure I’m right, so I’m just going to go “blah blah blah office politics”, and wait and see.


Chapter 11: What Lies Hidden

What Happens
Egwene puts the dream ring ter’angreal down on the nightstand beside her bed, thinking that she had to try entering Tel’aran’rhiod without it some time, and this was as good a time as any. Elayne and Nynaeve are sitting in the room, trying not to look nervous, and Aviendha is there too, fully armed this time. Egwene can’t blame her after what had happened earlier that night; she still doesn’t know whether she was more frightened by the attack or whatever Rand had done to end it. She also thinks it wasn’t fair that she couldn’t have seen the flows he used. Nynaeve asks if she is certain she wants to try this without the ring, and Egwene is sure. Aviendha suggests that maybe one of the others could use the ring to go with her, then, but Nynaeve explains that none of them know enough about the Dreamworld to risk it yet. Egwene thinks of the dangers of Tel’aran’rhiod, and also about the ter’angreal that they had recovered from Amico and Joiya: an iron disc engraved with a spiral, and a plaque of a clear amber-like material with a sleeping woman carved in the middle. Both allowed you to enter Tel’aran’rhiod by channeling a flow of Spirit into them; Elayne had confirmed this by trying them both briefly. Egwene is terrified of the idea of going into Tel’aran’rhiod when the rest of Liandrin’s thirteen might be waiting there for her, using the other ter’angreal they had, but they were out of time; they had to decide what to do about Tanchico, and this seemed the only way to find out more. She examines a map of the interior of the Panarch’s Palace which she had found in a book, and boggles again at the sketch of a skeleton that was supposed to be on display there, which shows it to be twice her height and with a skull large enough for a child to fit into, and what appears to be four eyesockets. There can’t be anything else like it in the world, and Egwene intends to use it to get to the Panarch’s Palace in Tel’aran’rhiod. She lies down, and thinks about her own dreams for a moment before drifting off.

Egwene gasps; the skeleton is even larger in person than she had thought. She embraces saidar, just in case, and laughs at what she’s wearing: Aiel garb, but in red brocaded satin. She fiddles with her outfit for a moment, at one point accidentally making herself naked for a few seconds, and settles for a copy of the dresses Faile always wears. She thinks to herself that she knows so few of the rules to this place, and she had better learn if she wants to be the Tower’s first Dreamer since Corianin Nedeal. She begins examining the displays in the chamber:

A weathered stone figurine of a woman, seemingly unclothed but wrapped in hair that fell to her ankles, was outwardly no different from the others sharing its case, each not much bigger than her hand. But it gave an impression of soft warmth that she recognized. It was an angreal, she was sure; she wondered why the Tower had not managed to get it away from the Panarch. A finely jointed collar and two bracelets of dull black metal, on a stand by themselves, made her shiver; she felt darkness and pain associated with them—old, old pain, and sharp. A silvery thing in another cabinet, like a three pointed star inside a circle, was made of no substance she knew; it was softer than metal, scratched and gouged, yet even older than any of the ancient bones. From ten paces she could sense pride and vanity.

Then she notices the upper half of a broken figurine lying in a cabinet, a woman with a serene face holding up a crystal sphere in one hand; it seems to call to her. Egwene picks it up.

As her hand grasped it, the Power surged within her, into the half figure then back into her, into the figure and back, in and back. The crystal sphere flickered in fitful, lurid flashes, and needles stabbed her brain with each flash. With a sob of agony, she loosed her hold and clasped both hands to her head.

The figurine shatters on the floor. Egwene thinks it must be a ter’angreal, but why would it hurt her like that? She concludes that maybe it’s because it’s broken. When she looks again, the shattered figure on the floor is gone and the statuette is back on the shelf as before. She tells herself this is not why she’s here, and heads out of the chamber. Tel’aran’rhiod is empty of human life, of course, except for a man she sees briefly dressed in gilded armor and calling to a lover before disappearing. She exits the Palace, musing about what Aviendha had said, that the Wise Ones knew how to read dreams, and between one step and another is suddenly somewhere else, an arid desert-like land. There is a lion there, watching an Aiel woman hunt a boar, and Egwene realizes her thoughts had sent her to the Aiel Waste. The Aiel woman freezes, looking at Egwene, and thinking she must be like the man in the armor from before, in Tel’aran’rhiod by accident, Egwene dismisses her and concentrates on the Panarch’s Palace, winding up in front of the elephant skeleton again. She leaves the Palace and begins searching the city, not really knowing what she was looking for, frustrated by all the strange things she sees but does not understand; she thinks maybe a Wise One would know, and is abruptly back in the Waste again. She screams and falls down as the boar leaps over her, and scrambles back up and sees the Aiel woman watching her, with a spear ready to throw. To try to soothe her, Egwene changes her outfit to Aiel clothes and tells the woman she means her no harm. The Aiel frowns and tells her she has no right to wear cadin’sor, and suddenly Egwene is naked. In disbelief, Egwene pulls on saidar and clothes herself, and makes the Aiel woman’s clothes disappear while she’s at it. The Aiel woman is shocked, and lets the spear lower, and Egwene seizes the opportunity to send herself back to Tanchico, determined not to be pulled off her path again.

She did hesitate, though. Just as she had closed her eyes it had seemed she saw another woman, beyond the Aiel woman, watching them both. A golden haired woman holding a silver bow. You are letting wild fancies take you, now. You’ve been listening to too many of Thom Merrilin’s stories. Brigitte was long dead; she could not come again until the Horn of Valere called her back from the grave. Dead women, even heroes of legend, surely could not dream themselves into Tel’aran’rhiod.

Back out in the city again, she sees a woman who has dreamed herself into Tel’aran’rhiod briefly take to the air and fly, and Egwene grins and tries it herself, swooping through the city gleefully until it occurs to her what a spectacle of herself she’s making, if any of the Black Ajah happen to be looking for her. She floats just above street level instead, until a woman suddenly appears in front of her, in a brown skirt and white blouse, and barks at her to put her feet on the ground, which abruptly they are. She realizes this is the same woman as before, just older, and says so. The woman looks a little embarrassed, and says you can be what you wish to be here. Then she asks if Egwene is from the White Tower, and introduces herself as Amys, of the Nine Valleys sept of the Taardad Aiel.

“You are a Wise One? You are! And you know dreams, you know Tel’aran’rhiod! You can… My name is Egwene. Egwene al’Vere. I…” She took a deep breath; Amys did not look a woman to lie to. “I am Aes Sedai. Of the Green Ajah.”

Amys asks what she is doing here, and what city this is; Egwene wonders how Amys found her if she didn’t even know what city this is, but tells her it is Tanchico, and she is hunting Black Ajah, Darkfriends. Amys whispers it is true then, there is an Ajah of Shadowrunners in the Tower. She tells Egwene that she is clueless and arrogant to be here, and could get herself killed; she does not even know that something evil is killing this Tanchico, does she? Egwene says that could be them, and offers to describe the women to Amys; Amys tells her that she must learn first, and Amys cannot teach her here:

“Come to the Three-fold Land. I will have the word spread through the clans that an Aes Sedai called Egwene al’Vere is to be brought to me at Cold Rocks Hold. Give your name and show your Great Serpent ring, and you will have safe running. I am not there now, but I will return from Rhuidean before you can arrive.”

Egwene starts to ask more, but something snatches her away, Amys’ voice following her, telling her she must come and learn.

Commentary
Pride and vanity, ha ha, clever clever.

Sad Bracelets: Very Purloined Letter of Jordan, making them the first thing Egwene sees (and therefore dismisses). And also like Poe’s letter, the Sad Bracelets will turn out to be one of the most MacGuffin-y MacGuffins in WOT, since to date, unlike most other Magical Thingummys in the series, the bracelets never even get used; all they are is a reason to get the Girls to Tanchico (and later, Domon to Ebou Dar).

The quote above on Birgitte bothers me, because it makes it seem like Egwene doesn’t know that the Horn of Valere was blown in Falme, which she totally does. I mean, she’d better, considering she and the Girls (and Verin, and Mat, and Hurin) schlepped it across half of Randland afterwards. Even if no one happened to mention Birgitte being there specifically, the quote’s still weird.

Wise Ones: Sigh. Here we go. At least Rhuidean will be fun.


Chapter 12: Tanchico or the Tower

What Happens
Elayne is very relieved when Egwene wakes up, and tells her that they had been shaking her, but she would not wake up. Nynaeve returns the water pitcher, which she had been about to dump over Egwene, to the stand, and says that if the Dreamworld can hold on to her like that, maybe it isn’t safe to go; they cannot risk Egwene getting lost. Egwene replies meekly that she knows, and Elayne’s eyebrows shoot up. She tells them about Amys, and asks Aviendha if she knows her. Reluctantly, Aviendha says Amys is a Wise One and a dreamwalker, and was Far Dareis Mai before she went to Rhuidean; Egwene comments that she said she was there now, and asks if Aviendha knows how to get to Cold Rocks Hold.

“Of course. Cold Rocks is Rhuarc’s hold. Rhuarc is Amys’s husband. I visit there, sometimes. I used to. My sister-mother, Lian, is sister-wife to Amys.”

The others are confused, and Aviendha explains that “sister-wife” means you have the same husband, and then is surprised at their reaction.

“This is not your custom?” the Aiel woman asked.

“No,” Egwene said faintly. “No, it is not.”

“But you and Elayne care for one another as first-sisters. What would you have done had one of you been unwilling to step aside for Rand al’Thor? Fight over him? Let a man damage the ties between you? Would it not have been better if you both had married him, then?”

Elayne and Egwene look at each other, red-cheeked, and Elayne thinks again of Min’s jokes, and catches herself thinking that if it had to be someone, why couldn’t it have been Egwene? Flustered, she covers by remarking to Aviendha that it sounds like the man has no choice in the matter. Aviendha explains that the man can refuse, of course, but if he wants to marry one he must marry both. She is also astounded that in the wetlands a man can ask a woman to marry him; in the Waste, only women ask. Egwene changes the subject back to Amys, and tells them that she thinks she has to go to the Waste while Elayne and Nynaeve go to Tanchico. Nynaeve is astounded, but Egwene explains that really learning how to use Tel’aran’rhiod is too good an advantage to lose, and if Elayne and Nynaeve take the dream ring with them, they can still communicate in the Dreamworld. It’s not like she would be abandoning them, right? Nynaeve recovers and tells her of course not; training is what she needs, and she and Elayne will be fine on their own. She asks Aviendha to take good care of Egwene in the Waste, but before Aviendha can say anything, Moiraine enters and announces that Joiya and Amico are dead. Nynaeve asks if that was the purpose of the attack, then, and Moiraine says perhaps not the main one, but it was no ordinary assassin; the guards never saw anyone enter or leave the dungeon, but found the two women with their throats slit and their tongues nailed to the door. She doesn’t think even Gray Men could have managed that; she doesn’t know what could. Moiraine then continues that she hopes they have made a decision by now on where they are going; Nynaeve informs her that she and Elayne are going to Tanchico by ship, and Egwene and Aviendha are going to Cold Rocks Hold, in the Waste. She does not explain why, and Moiraine’s eyebrows rise, but Aviendha pipes up and says that Jolien or one of the other Maidens can take Egwene instead; she would prefer to go to Tanchico. Egwene tries not to be hurt by this, and Elayne is rather shocked, but Moiraine interrupts to tell Aviendha that she is going to neither place, actually, and pulls out a letter.

“This was placed in my hand an hour gone. The young Aielman who brought it told me it was given to him a month ago, before any of us reached Tear, yet it is addressed to me by name, at the Stone of Tear.” She glanced at the last sheet. “Aviendha, do you know Amys, of the Nine Valleys sept of the Taardad Aiel; Bair, of the Haido sept of the Shaarad Aiel; Melaine, of the Jhirad sept of the Goshien Aiel; and Seana, of the Black Cliff sept of the Nakai Aiel? They signed it.”

Tensely, Aviendha says they are all Wise Ones, and dreamwalkers, and Moiraine says perhaps that explains it. She tells them that the letter says that a “willful girl” named Aviendha must be brought to them on the slopes of Chaendaer, above Rhuidean. Moiraine also comments that these Wise Ones throw orders about as if they were the Amyrlin Seat, and Elayne notes that something about the letter has definitely irritated the Aes Sedai. Aviendha angrily declares that she is Far Dareis Mai, and goes where she wishes, but Moiraine says she showed the letter to Rhuarc, who seems sure that she will go whether she wants to or not. Aviendha storms out, and Elayne says at least she and Egwene can go together, since it makes no sense to go to Cold Rocks Hold when Amys is at this Rhuidean. Moiraine tells Nynaeve that if she and Elayne want a fast ship, there is a Sea Folk raker in port at the moment; Nynaeve grudgingly acknowledges thanks for the information. Elayne asks Moiraine what Rand is going to do now, and Moiraine replies they will all find out tomorrow.

Commentary
I’m going to mostly leave the whole “sister-wife” thing alone, for now. As a general concept, my problems with polygamy are far more logistical than moral, but seeing as Jordan did not see fit to provide us with a culture that practices both polygyny and polyandry, the sexist implications are difficult to avoid, however unintentional they may be, and I’ve already filled my quota on gender politics commentary for the week.

…Which is too bad, because otherwise there’s not a whole lot to say about this chapter, except Hi, Slayer! Thanks for the Saw moment!


Stopping point is now! Come back Monday for the totally awesomely fabulous continuation of this here re-read, covering Chapters 13-16 of TSR. I think. My schedule’s a little flummoxed right now, so that may not be correct. We Shall See. Till, then, happy weekend!

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