The Wheel of Time Reread

The Wheel of Time Re-read: The Shadow Rising, Part 5

Greetings, ladies and germs, and welcome back to the Wheel of Time Re-read! Today you’ll be joining lil ol’ me for Part 5 of The Shadow Rising, covering Chapters 17-19.

Previous entries can be found here. As always, beware of spoilers throughout.

My side project post is still in the works, so continue to keep an eye out for it, mmkay?

And, yeah. I’m sorry if I’m not at my most scintillating in this post, guys; it turns out that my body thinks the perfect follow-up to flu? Is bronchitis.

Seriously. I love my immune system SO MUCH right now, I can’t even tell you.

But enough of that! On with the post!

Chapter 17: Deceptions

 

What Happens
Thom juggles for some servants, planting rumors and doubts about who exactly was behind the Trollocs getting into the Stone, aiming to plant suspicions about the nobles and bolster general opinion of Rand. He is interrupted by the majhere, who tries to put him to work, but he distracts her with a sleight of hand trick and escapes. He hobbles painfully back to his room, yawning and thinking he is too old to be doing this kind of work. He ought to retire to a farm, where it would be quiet – just as long as there was a town nearby. He opens his door and stops dead; Moiraine straightens from the papers on his desk and seats herself on his stool.

Now there was a beautiful woman, with every grace a man could want, including laughing at his quips. Fool! Old fool! She’s Aes Sedai, and you’re too tired to think straight.

He greets her politely and offers her a drink; she refuses lightly, and lays a hand on his bad knee; he feels a chill, and she remarks that she wishes he had been near a good Healer when the injury happened, but it is too late now to do much. He answers rather curtly, and sits, noticing that he feels as if he’s had a night’s sleep, and the pain from his knee is gone, if not the limp. He refuses to thank her, since she didn’t ask first. Moiraine observes that yesterday was an interesting day; Thom replies that Trollocs and Myrddraal are not his idea of “interesting”, but Moiraine counters that she was talking about High Lord Carleon getting “accidentally” shot by his good friend Tedosian, and then Tedosian falling deathly ill not an hour later after drinking wine his wife gave him. Thom replies evenly that it is quite a tragedy, and Moiraine further observes that Carleon and Tedosian were two of the High Lords plotting to kill Rand. Thom replies that he will take her word for it, as he is but a simple gleeman.

Her smile was just short of laughter, but she spoke as if reading from a page. “Thomdril Merrilin. Called the Gray Fox, once, by some who knew him, or knew of him. Court-bard at the Royal Palace of Andor in Caemlyn. Morgase’s lover for a time, after Taringail died. Fortunate for Morgase, Taringail’s death. I do not suppose she ever learned he meant her to die and himself to be Andor’s first king. But we were speaking of Thom Merrilin, a man who, it was said, could play the Game of Houses in his sleep. It is a shame that such a man calls himself a simple gleeman. But such arrogance to keep the same name.”

Thom masked his shock with an effort. How much did she know? Too much if she knew not another word. But she was not the only one with knowledge. “Speaking of names,” he said levelly, “it is remarkable how much can be puzzled out from a name. Moiraine Damodred. The Lady Moiraine of House Damodred, in Cairhien. Taringail’s youngest half-sister. King Laman’s niece. And Aes Sedai, let us not forget. An Aes Sedai aiding the Dragon Reborn since before she could have known that he was more than just another poor fool who could channel.”

Thom continues, speculating that she must have connections high up in the Tower, and wouldn’t that be scandalous if it came out, a connection between the Tower and the Dragon Reborn? Perhaps it would be best to leave a poor old gleeman alone. Moiraine gives no sign that he has unsettled her, merely noting that she does not use her House name by choice; House Damodred had an unsavory reputation even before Laman started the Aiel War, and it has not improved since then. Unnerved by her calm, Thom finally snaps, what does she want of him? Moiraine tells him that Elayne and Nynaeve are leaving for Tanchico, where they will have need of someone with his skills and knowledge to stay alive. Thom tells her he has no intention of sticking his head in a vipers’ nest – which Tanchico surely is – and he’s thinking of retiring to a nice quiet farm somewhere.

“A quiet life would kill you, I think.” Sounding distinctly amused, she busied herself rearranging the folds of her skirt with small, slender hands. He had the impression she was hiding a smile. “Tanchico will not, however. I guarantee that, and by the First Oath, you know it for truth.”

Thom frowns at this, but then demands to know why he should go to Tanchico;  Moiraine answers, to protect Morgase’s daughter. Thom pretends to not care very much about this, and Moiraine goes on the offensive, bringing up the reason he left Caemlyn – his nephew Owyn. Thom jumps up, shaking, and Moiraine promises him that if he goes with Elayne and Nynaeve to Tanchico, she will give him the names of the Red sisters who gentled Owyn on the spot and left him to the mercies of his neighbors, rather than taking him back to Tar Valon like they were supposed to:

“If you go with Elayne and Nynaeve, I will tell you the names of those Red sisters when I see you next, as well as the name of the one who gave them their orders. They did not act on their own. And I will see you again. You will survive Tarabon.”

He asks her to leave, almost begging, and she tells him she will teach him that not all Aes Sedai are like those Reds, and leaves. Thom sinks to his knees, crying with grief and guilt over Owyn, and thinks of the dilemma Moiraine has thrust him into: he can let Elayne go to be eaten alive in Tarabon, or he can go with her – and abandon Rand to Aes Sedai hands, just as he had Owyn.

Min gathers up her embroidery and glides out of the dining hall, careful not to do anything to upset Laras, who is watching her with approval; the Mistress of the Kitchens has decided to take “Elmindreda” under her wing, and Min cannot afford to antagonize her. She sits in the garden and sighs at her awful embroidery, but admits it makes a perfect cover to watch people. She is interrupted by Gawyn and Galad, and is struck again at how beautiful Galad is. Gawyn teases her, calling her “a pretty little girl”, and Min hastily keeps herself from glaring; Gawyn had instantly agreed not to give away her subterfuge, without knowing why, but he took every opportunity to take advantage of her persona. Galad tells Gawyn not to mock her, and asks “Elmindreda” if he knows her. She simpers inanely at him, hating the dress and the makeup and the whole disguise. Gawyn lets her behavior pass dryly, and gives her a book, asking her to tell his brother that it is nonsense.

She examined the book. The Way of the Light, by Lothair Mantelar. Opening it, she read at random. “Therefore abjure all pleasure, for goodness is a pure abstract, a perfect crystalline ideal which is obscured by base emotion. Pamper not the flesh. Flesh is weak but spirit is strong; flesh is useless where spirit is strong. Right thought is drowned in sensation, and right action hindered by passions. Take all joy from rightness, and rightness only.” It seemed to be dry nonsense.

She twitters something about reading being so hard, grinning inwardly at Gawyn’s frustration. Gawyn informs her tightly that Mantelar is the founder of the Whitecloaks, and Galad adds that he was a great philosopher, even if the Whitecloaks since him have sometimes been overzealous. Min answers breathlessly that Whitecloaks are so rough, and she does not think any of them even dance! Gawyn is deeply annoyed, but Galad promises to take her dancing sometime, and she thinks men should not be allowed to have smiles like that. In revenge, Gawyn suddenly brings up how often “Elmindreda” sees the Amyrlin, and asks if she has said anything about their sister, or Egwene. She swallows a snarl, and pretends she has no idea what he is talking about. Then she is distracted by the sight of Logain wandering aimlessly through the garden.

She had seen Logain before, a sad-faced, once-hearty man, always with an Accepted for companion. The woman was meant to keep him from killing himself as much as to prevent his escape; despite his size, he truly did not seem up to anything of the latter sort. But she had never before seen a flaring halo around his head, radiant in gold and blue. It was only there for a moment, but that was enough.

Min can’t imagine why she is seeing the halo, which tells her that glory and power is in Logain’s future; how can that be for a man who is gentled and destined to die soon? She thinks she must tell the Amyrlin about this right away. Gawyn comments that he cannot help feeling sorry for the man, but Galad replies sternly that he deserves none; thousands died before he was taken. Min jumps up, saying she has to go, and Galad, thinking Logain has frightened her, assures her that he can no longer harm her, and Min takes the excuse and says yes, she feels faint, and should go lay down.

Gawyn looked extremely skeptical, but he scooped up her basket before she could touch it. “Let me see you part of the way, at least,” he said, his voice oozing false concern. “This basket must be too heavy for you, dizzy as you are. I’d not want you to swoon.”

As soon as they are away from Galad, she snatches the basket back and snarls at him, upbraiding him for bringing up Elayne and Egwene when “Elmindreda” is not supposed to know or care a thing about them. Gawyn apologizes rather insincerely, and says he’s worried about them, out there and with a false Dragon in Tear. Min tentatively suggests that maybe this one isn’t a fake, but Gawyn is unconvinced, and moves on to Galad, telling Min that he’s taken to drinking in taverns with the Whitecloaks; he was given the book by Eamon Valda himself. He shakes off his mood momentarily and teases Min again, and dances out of the way when she tries to punch him.

“Such grace of movement, Elmindreda,” he laughed. “Such a dulcet voice, as a nightingale, or a cooing dove of the evening. What man would not grow starry-eyed at the sight of Elmindreda?” The mirth slid away, and he faced her soberly. “If you learn anything, please tell me. Please? I will beg on my knees, Min.”

She tells him she will, and takes her leave, heading to the Amyrlin’s study. She enters to find Siuan and Leane there alone, and Siuan snaps at her for coming here like they are best friends. Min tells her what she saw concerning Logain.

Siuan shook her head wearily. “Another thing to worry about. Starvation in Cairhien. A sister missing in Tarabon. Trolloc raids increasing in the Borderlands again. This fool who calls himself the Prophet, stirring up riots in Ghealdan. He’s apparently preaching that the Dragon has been Reborn as a Shienaran lord,” she said incredulously.

She continues that surely Min did not come dashing up here just for this, and Min tells her that she wants to go; she has already told Siuan everything useful she’s seen, and Rand needs her. Leane shudders at mention of him, but Siuan just snorts and says Min has been very useful; the way she caught that novice who was about to get with child with a guard, for instance. Min sighs at the idea that the novice was stopped; she saw her and the guard together, and knows there is a farm and a swarm of children in their future, and nothing will change that. She argues with Siuan about letting Gawyn know where Egwene and Elayne are, to no avail, until they are interrupted by a novice with two messages that arrived by pigeon. The first tells them that Mazrim Taim has escaped, taken away in the night and two sisters killed. Siuan tells Leane to put together a force of a dozen sisters and a thousand guards to take him again, and this time he is to be gentled on the spot. Leane is shocked, but nods obedience.

The Amyrlin picked up the second bone cylinder and snapped it in two with a sharp crack to get the message out. “Good news at last,” she breathed, a smile blooming on her face. “Good news. ‘The sling has been used. The shepherd holds the sword.’ ”

Min asks if that means Rand, and the Amyrlin confirms it; Rand has Callandor, and now she can move. She tells Leane to convene the Hall of the Tower that very morning, and explains to Min that now she can finally involve herself with Rand openly. Leane asks if Siuan is sure that Rand al’Thor is better than Mazrim Taim, and Siuan replies that he is the Dragon Reborn, and sends Leane off. She remarks that there may be “some resistance” from the Hall, but assures Min it will be handled, as long as no one finds out how long Siuan has been involved with the al’Thor boy. Min asks why they have not heard from Moiraine before this, and Siuan doesn’t know, but dismisses the matter as unimportant.

Sahra Covenry hoes vegetables at the farm to which she had been exiled, thinking bitter thoughts, and is surprised to be greeted by an Aes Sedai wearing a cloak that shadows her face. The Aes Sedai asks Sahra about the woman she took to see the Amyrlin before she left the Tower, a woman named Elmindreda, and tells Sahra to tell her everything she saw or heard concerning the woman. Sahra starts to tell her she knows nothing, and falls to the ground, writhing with pain. She sobs that the woman spoke to Gawyn, and is sure that will not be enough; she is right, and her screams do not stop for a long time.

Commentary
I swear, it’s weird how some chapters are so easy to summarize, and others are like pulling teeth. This one was rather like a root canal. I dunno.

Moiraine and Thom: her assurance to Thom that he will survive Tarabon and see her again is what made people think that possibly one of Moiraine’s answers from the snakes had to do with Thom. She probably didn’t ask about him directly, because that strikes me as a rather frivolous question for someone as focused and driven as Moiraine, but one of her answers may have given her that information anyway. I can’t imagine how, personally, unless it had something to do with him (and Mat) rescuing her from being Trapped In Another Dimension (DUN!). Feel free to speculate. Of course, it’s also possible that none of Moiraine’s answers had anything to do with Thom, and she’s strictly going by Min’s 99% likely viewing of the two of them getting married.

Speaking of which, I still don’t get how that whole thing is supposed to work. Originally it was generally supposed that Moiraine would be stilled as a result of her adventures in Finnland, and thus she and Thom would end up as equals, more or less. But now that stilling can be Healed, it just seems like a pretty unworkable proposition to me. Even leaving aside the “equals” part, Thom’s already at least in his fifties, and can’t realistically live more than twenty years or so, maybe thirty, and those won’t exactly be his best years, either. A Healed Moiraine, on the other hand, would have anywhere from 200 to 600 years of life ahead of her (depending on how that whole Oath Rod thing shakes out). I mean, I guess maybe twenty to thirty years of wedded… um, bliss? I guess? is better than none, but still, it’s kind of a raw deal if you ask me.

I do think it’s clear that Moiraine likes Thom, though. Mad passion, no (Jordan doesn’t really do mad romantic passion in his fiction, unless you count Lanfear, which is not exactly the type of “mad” I was going for, there), but I think what we’re supposed to get here is that she enjoys how Thom is one of the few men she’s met who can keep up with her in the Game of Houses. Certainly she shows more sympathy and compassion to him (even while manipulating the hell out of him) than just about any other character – including Lan.

Min: I forgot about her and Gawyn’s little comedy routine here, which is actually pretty funny, in my opinion. One last gasp of me liking Gawyn before the coup? Hell, I don’t know; maybe I’ll even like him through the coup this time around. I’m not counting on it, though.

Stupid Galad. Stupid Whitecloaks. I grump. I’m a little better reconciled to this inevitability in view of what happens in KOD, but still. Grump.

Siuan: see, this is what I meant about her not really believing Min about the bad shit about to happen. She still thinks she can avert it, and she is about to find out she is really, really wrong.

Several mysteries are brought up in this chapter. The Red sisters who gentled Owyn are part of what Cadsuane will later refer to as “the vileness after the Aiel War”, and in my brain has always been relegated to the cubbyhole called “Aes Sedai Sideshow Politics”. In other words, if it didn’t directly affect the present-day action in a significant way I was content to let Rich Boyé and John Hamby and Co. duke it out. What can I say, I’ve only got so much attention to divide, here.

The other mysteries are who busted Taim loose, and why Moiraine’s pigeons warning Siuan about that possibility never reached her. The latter is pretty obviously Elaida’s work (in fact she may even confirm that coming up), but the former is… murky, deliberately so. We’re supposed to believe, I think, that Joiya was actually telling the truth and that Liandrin and Co. did it, but as we find out later Liandrin et al are in Tanchico, it couldn’t have been them. It could be, as Siuan supposes, some of Taim’s erstwhile followers – or it could be Demandred. This is the theory I like, in line with the “Taim is not Demandred, but Demandred’s minion” chain of reasoning. A lot of KOD is vague for me, but I do remember that Taim pretty much confirms that he has to be a Darkfriend, so I’m going with this idea unless someone can convince me different. So There.


Chapter 18: Into the Ways

What Happens
Perrin reluctantly belts on the axe before gathering the rest of his stuff (which includes the hammer) and leaves his room, where Gaul is waiting for him. Perrin asks if any others decided to come, and Gaul shakes his head; Perrin thinks it had been a slim hope anyway, believing that he might have Aiel to drive off the Whitecloaks with. Gaul adds that “the girl” makes no secret of her preparations, and Perrin growls that if she gives him away to Moiraine, she won’t sit down for a week. In answer, Gaul observes that she is rather handy with her knives; Perrin asks Gaul to bring Faile to safety if anything should happen to him, Perrin. Gaul seems doubtful, but agrees to do his best. They note the lack of people about as they head down to the stables, and Gaul tells Perrin that Rand al’Thor has summoned everyone to the Heart of the Stone. Perrin enters the stables and stops, seeing that Bain and Chiad are with Faile and Loial. Perrin asks Gaul quietly if they are why he only said he would try, and Gaul shrugs.

“I will do what I can, but they will take her side. Chiad is Goshien.”

“Her clan makes a difference?”

“Her clan and mine have blood feud, Perrin, and I am no spear-sister to her. But perhaps the water oaths will hold her. I will not dance spears with her unless she offers.”

Perrin asks why they are with Faile, and Gaul says they like Faile, and the argument between her and Perrin fascinates them. Loial comes up to them to beg Perrin anxiously to hurry and get ready, as he does not know how much longer Faile will wait. Faile calls that she will not leave him, but if he is too stubborn to ask a favor, he can follow her “like a lost puppy”. Bain and Chiad crack up laughing, and Gaul suddenly leaps into the air, declaring they will follow like “hunting wolves”. Bain comments to Chiad that she has a fine wolfskin at home.

A growl rose in Perrin’s throat, pulling both women’s eyes to him. For a moment Bain looked on the point of saying something more, but she frowned at his yellow stare and held her peace, not afraid, but suddenly wary.

Faile comments that the puppy is not well housebroken yet. Perrin goes to his horse and makes ready to leave, and then waits, seething, as Faile deliberately takes her time. Finally she mounts and pulls her horse close to him.

“Why can you not ask, Perrin?” she said softly. “You tried to keep me away from where I belong, so now you have to ask. Can such a simple thing be so difficult?”

Suddenly the Stone rings like a bell and shakes as if in an earthquake; the horses panic and everyone is desperately occupied in calming them. Perrin knows it is Rand, feels the pull of ta’veren on him, and yells to Loial that they ride, now. Faile seems to agree, for she sets out with Loial immediately, Perrin following. Once they are out of the city, Faile asks, shocked, if that was “him”, and Perrin lies that he doesn’t know. Faile complains that they’ll have to wait an hour for the Aiel, now, but Perrin can already see three figures running to join them; Faile realizes that by asking questions she has lost ground, and swiftly belittles his report of seeing them. This is rather undermined when the three Aiel show up a few minutes later. Chiad and Gaul taunt each other for a moment, and Faile tells Loial to lead them to the Waygate; unhappily, Loial obeys. Perrin and Gaul follow behind the others. Loial mutters angrily about the destruction of the Grove in Tear, and Perrin recalls an old proverb:

“To anger the Ogier and pull the mountains down on your head.” Everyone took its meaning as to try to do something that was impossible. Perrin thought maybe the meaning had changed with the years. Maybe in the beginning, it had been “Anger the Ogier, and you pull the mountains down on your head.” Difficult to do, but deadly if accomplished.

Loial finds the Waygate and opens it, to the amazement of Faile and the Aiel. Perrin declares it is too hot for waiting, and boots his horse into the gate before anyone else. Gaul follows, and tells Perrin that Faile is upset with him for breaking their agreement, and that Perrin should not let Bain and Chiad get him alone, as they mean to teach him a lesson. Perrin returns that he made no agreement, but was tricked; they will have to follow Loial soon enough, but until then he means to stay ahead. He and Gaul will wait for the others at the first Guidepost. And if Faile worries about him till then, he thinks, it will be the least she deserves.

Commentary
See, this is why people got so irritated with Faile in this stretch, or why I did, anyway. It’s a question of pride, but it’s more than that.

Pride, I can forgive; it’s not like I don’t have more than my fair share of it, after all. But it’s hypocrisy that I genuinely cannot tolerate. And that’s what Faile displays here: she cannot forgive Perrin for refusing to eat crow and swallow his pride, when she would never in a thousand years do the same herself. That’s hypocrisy, pure and simple.

She obviously doesn’t think of it that way, of course. She views it as a simple tit for tat: Perrin has injured her pride, therefore she requires a return injury to his pride in order to even the scales. I could have told her: honey, pride don’t work that way, and pride and “evening the score” really doesn’t work that way. It’s pure foolishness to think this kind of battle of wills can ever be anything except a endless cycle. Don’t believe me, ask these guys.

And of course, the person being worst treated in all this is the one who didn’t do a damn thing wrong: Loial. He should really try some of that fabled anger out sometime, if you know what I mean, and I think you do.

In other news, do you know it’s pretty much impossible for a human to growl (as in, “make a warning rumbly sound”, not in the talking sense) without sounding like a total doofus? Trufax! I think it’s because human vocal cords just can’t reproduce that kind of sound correctly; the closest we can come is a kind of groaning noise, which… yeah, not so scary.

Which is why I imagine suddenly coming across a person who mysteriously can growl, like truly growl, and has yellow eyes to boot? Might be a little unnerving.

(We will not investigate the issue of why exactly Perrin’s vocal apparatus can now handle growling without him having any other physical alteration (other than the eyes, of course), because there are some depths of geekery to which I will not sink. “It’s The Magic, Stupid” is good enough for me.)


Chapter 19: The Wavedancer

What Happens
Elayne and Nynaeve arrive at the wharves after an unpleasant carriage ride. Nynaeve voices her opinion of the trip to the carriage driver, and Elayne sighs and tips him extra to make up for it. After he’s gone, Nynaeve admits grudgingly that she probably shouldn’t have snapped at the man, but adds that Elayne had better start being more thrifty with their money. As they head to the Sea Folk raker, Elayne tactfully tries to tell Nynaeve that she has no tact, and maybe she should try to have some; Sea Folk are reputed to be very touchy. Nynaeve’s airy reply does not reassure Elayne. They climb on deck, Elayne fascinated by the sailors’ strange costumes and jewelry, and meet Coine din Jubai Wild Winds, Sailmistress of Wavedancer, and Jorin din Jubai White Wing, her sister and Windfinder of Wavedancer. Elayne is surprised they are sisters, as Coine is so much older than Jorin, and thinks that Jorin reminds her of Aviendha somehow, even though they look nothing alike. Nynaeve greets them according to the ritual phrases Moiraine had given them, and they go below to negotiate the “gift of passage”. In the cabin, Elayne gasps to recognize a Seanchan helmet set as a trophy, and Coine explains that they encountered a Seanchan ship last year, but were able to prevail against it. Nynaeve comments they were lucky, and tells them about damane, to which the Sea Folk women make no reply, instead moving on to negotiations. Nynaeve tells them, rather too briskly in Elayne’s opinion, that they need to go to Tanchico with all speed and no stops; in return, she offers them one of the letters-of-rights Moiraine had given them, which allows the bearer to withdraw up to three thousand gold crowns from banks in various cities. This was an absolute fortune, but Moiraine had said it might be necessary to make the Sea Folk forsake their itinerary. Coine notes the vast sum, and tells them they must know that of all who request the gift of passage, only Aes Sedai may be refused, and usually are, which is why they seldom ask. Elayne frowns; Moiraine had said nothing of this. Nynaeve asks bluntly, if they meant to refuse them passage, why bring them below? Coine says she has heard “he” can channel, and holds Callandor; the Aiel have come over the Dragonwall, and the Stone has fallen. Prophecy is being fulfilled. Elayne is surprised, but replies that he is the Dragon Reborn; does she mean the Prophecies of the Dragon?

Coine turned. “Not the Prophecies of the Dragon, Aes Sedai. The Jendai Prophecy, the prophecy of the Coramoor. Not the one you wait for and dread; the one we seek, herald of a new Age.”

She explains briefly the history of the Atha’an Miere since the Breaking, and that Elayne and Nynaeve are proof that Rand al’Thor is the Coramoor:

“That is in the Prophecy as well. ‘The White Tower shall be broken by his name, and Aes Sedai shall kneel to wash his feet and dry them with their hair.’ ”

“You will have a long wait if you expect to see me wash any man’s feet,” Nynaeve said wryly. “What does this have to do with our passage? Will you take us, or not?”

Coine asks why they are going to Tanchico, and will not be put off by Nynaeve’s bluntness, and Elayne jumps in and tells Coine that they hunt the Black Ajah there, lest they do harm to the… Coramoor. At this, the Windfinder Jorin speaks up, saying to Coine that they must take them, and Elayne and Nynaeve wonder why she and not the captain is making the decision. They are interrupted by Toram, the ship’s Cargomaster and Coine’s husband, who is very put out to learn they are going to Tanchico, as this messes up all his trading decisions. Coine gives him no reasons, and he withdraws stiffly. Coine murmurs she will have to make it up to him, and Elayne apologizes for being a cause of trouble. Nynaeve puts in that surely three thousand crowns will be enough to appease him, but Coine tells her that she must keep the two of them and their purpose a secret as much as possible, and asks if they can stay below and be discreet about being Aes Sedai? Elayne and Nynaeve promptly pull off their serpent rings and hide them, and Elayne asks again about the gift of passage. Coine pushes the letter back over to them, and says she does this for the Coramoor. Jorin makes a strangled sound, and Coine tells her she will put in the gift of passage from her own chest. The two sisters playfully threaten each other for a moment, indicating to Elayne that they have dropped formality, and Coine begins to express her regrets that she does not have time to welcome them aboard properly, when the ship suddenly lurches and rolls as if in a storm, and Coine and Jorin run up on deck to see what happened.

Commentary
New icon! And I’ve always really liked this one; it’s Purty.

So this is our introduction to the Sea Folk. I must say Coine and Jorin are by far the least annoying of them; the Atha’an Miere do not seem to do very well as sympathetic characters otherwise, at least not that I recall. The only other cool Sea Folk scene I can think of offhand is when Rand goes to meet them in ACOS, and that scene was cool in spite of them, not because. The rest of the time they seem to function mainly as an obstacle to Our Heroes, which is not likely to make me love them. I’m still not really sure what purpose they’re supposed to serve in the overall story; supposedly they’re to be Rand’s naval force, but other than making a shambles of the Seanchan in Ebou Dar – an episode Rand had nothing to do with – we’ve seen precious little of them actually being useful in the series thus far. Hopefully they will redeem themselves somewhat in the next installment.

At least it seems that the “washing feet” thing is not literal Prophecy, at least I really hope it isn’t, because that would be a bit much for me to stomach. It’s hopefully just there for the Biblical allusion, and if you ask me is fulfilled by the Aes Sedai swearing fealty to Rand at the end of LOC.

Other than that, there’s not a lot in this chapter worth commenting on, except that we see the real beginning of Elayne’s good cop to Nynaeve’s bad cop; or maybe their “honey and stick” routine would be a better way to put it. Which is admittedly going to turn out to be fairly effective in their travels together, but I’m not fond of it right now because Nynaeve is irritating me, and I find that, well, irritating, because in general I like her. I don’t know, I think I might just be in a particularly bad mood right now.


So I think we’ll wrap it up. Retournez-vous Friday for the next bit, which covers Chapters 20-22. Ciao!

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