Wheel of Time Re-read
Returns from weekend resting
Spring is here and stuff.
And Chapter 48 are
In this post, for reals.
Old re-read entries
Are gathered in Index post
Uh, cherry blossoms.
Are spinning in their graves as
I murder their art.
Perhaps we should just
Get on with the recap and
Never speak of this?
Chapter 47: The Truth of a Viewing
Siuan is sitting at her desk, checking the Tower’s accounts. She notes that Danelle, the dreamy Brown who was supposed to be handling the masons, must be too distracted to notice that there are far more masons on the payroll than can possibly be needed for the work to be done. She is irritated by the lack of news; she hasn’t heard anything from Moiraine since the message that Rand had taken Callandor. She sorts through the papers in her special box: a report that Sahra, the novice who had taken Min to Siuan when she first arrived, had disappeared from the farm she had been sent to; a report on Masema, who had gathered a crowd of ten thousand to hear him speak about the Dragon Reborn, whom Masema named as Rand al’Thor; a report that Mazrim Taim was still at large; reports of sisters vanishing in Illian and Caemlyn. She thinks of how the Hall had voted as expected, that al’Thor must be the Dragon Reborn, and therefore must be guided by the Tower, and Siuan had successfully deflected the proposal that they sent a delegation to him immediately. Then the door crashes open, and Elaida enters, followed by eleven more sisters, most Red but also including Alviarin, Joline Maza of the Green, Shemerin (Yellow), and Danelle. Infuriated, Siuan demands to know what Elaida thinks she is doing.
Her cold rage should have sent them scurrying, but though a few shifted uneasily, none made a move toward the door. Little Danelle actually smirked at her. And Elaida calmly reached out and pulled the striped stole from Siuan’s shoulders. “You will not need this any longer,” she said. “You were never fit for it, Siuan.”
In disbelief, Siuan reaches for saidar, and finds that she is blocked. Elaida wraps her in Air, and Siuan says they must be mad, and demands that they release her. Alviarin goes to the desk and tries to open the box, and springs back as it bursts into flames, leaving the contents in ashes. Elaida promises Siuan that she will tell them every word of what was inside.
“You must be taken by the Dragon!” Siuan snapped. “I will have your hide for this, Elaida. All of your hides! You will be lucky if the Hall of the Tower doesn’t vote to still all of you!”
Elaida’s tiny smile did not touch her eyes, “The Hall convened not an hour ago—enough Sisters to meet our laws—and by unanimous vote, as required, you are no longer Amyrlin. It is done, and we are here to see it enforced.”
Siuan is frightened, but tries to bareface her way out, threatening Elaida with dire consequences once the full Hall meets and condemns what she has done. Elaida lets her finish, then slaps her in the face, and tells her did she really think Elaida would allow her to destroy the Tower? Two of the Reds shove Siuan into the anteroom, where she sees that Leane is similarly bound with Air, and then, with shock, the body of her Warder, Alric, with a knife in his back. She snarls that Elaida will pay for this; Elaida begs to differ, and tells her followers to bring them below.
Min strolls in the North Gate, all ready to flirt with the guards, and then realizes there are none, and sees a plume of smoke rising within the Tower grounds. She walks in, thinking about whether Rand would prefer to see her in dresses like she wore now, and swearing that she will not dress up for any man. Her thoughts are interrupted when Gawyn and a crowd of young students burst from the trees carrying spears and bared blades. She asks Gawyn what’s going on, and Gawyn tells her that Amyrlin was deposed this morning, and Min must leave; Hammar is about to try to break Siuan out, and he must go. He runs off, the young men calling “The White Boar!” and “The Younglings!” Min whispers to herself that Gawyn had not said what side he was on. She hears more fighting, and thinks that she should leave, but instead looks for someplace to lay low until she can decide what to do next.
Siuan wakes in the dungeons, naked and covered in welts and bruises from the questioning they had submitted her to. Her memory is hazy, but she thinks that she had told them nearly everything, in the end. Leane asks unsteadily if she is there, and Siuan apologizes to her.
There was a long moment of silence. “Are you . . . all right, Mother?”
“Siuan, Leane. Just Siuan.” Despite herself she tried to embrace saidar. There was nothing there. Not for her. Only the emptiness inside. Never again. A lifetime of purpose, and now she was rudderless, adrift on a sea far darker than this cell.
She supposes Elaida has been made Amyrlin in her place, and vows vengeance. Then she hears a key turning in the cell door, and tells Leane to get up; whatever happens, they will face it on their feet, she thinks, and tries to avoid despair.
Min struggles with the cell door key while Laras hovers anxiously next to her. Min is still amazed that Laras had not only gotten Min to tell her what her plan was, but had agreed to help. She gets the door open and enters, but then hesitates; the two women on the floor don’t look like Siuan and Leane hardly at all to her, instead looking no more than six or so years older than herself, and they have no images or auras around them. But then one of them asks what they’re doing there in Siuan’s voice, and Min thrusts the bundles of clothes at them and tells them to get dressed quickly; she and Laras had knocked out the guard, but she is not sure how long he will be out. As she obeys, Siuan looks at Laras and comments she is glad that at least some do not seem to believe the charges against her; Laras frowns and says she must go, but reassures Min that she will not give them away, and warns Siuan and Leane that who is Amyrlin does not matter to her, but if they get “this child” caught (meaning Min), she will work them harder in the scullery than they would believe. She pinches Min’s cheek fondly and leaves. Leane is angry at Laras’ disrespect to Siuan, but Siuan tells her it is more than she can expect right now. Siuan tells Min that they have been stilled, and Min tells her she knows; it was announced all through the city. They make their way up into the Tower proper, avoiding several sisters and Warders; when they come to a corridor streaked with blood Siuan demands of Min to know what happened, and Min tells her that the Warders were fighting men who had come in as masons. She says that the Ajahs have split, mostly; the Reds are almost all still here, but there isn’t a Blue sister left in the Tower, and most of the Greens are gone as well. Logain escaped during the fighting, and that as well as Mazrim Taim’s escape is being laid at Siuan’s feet.
[Siuan’s] face twisted more, until Min thought she might begin crying. “Artur Hawkwing could not do it, but we did it ourselves.” Edge of tears or not, her voice was fierce. “The Light help us, we have broken the Tower.”
They continue on, and run headlong into Elaida, wearing the stole of the Amyrlin, accompanied by Alviarin, wearing the stole of Keeper, and an entourage of Warders and sisters, mostly Red. Min, Siuan, and Leane kneel, faces hidden by their cloak hoods, and the party sweeps by without noticing them. Siuan watches them leave, and says that she had heard that the only thing that helps a woman survive stilling is to find something she wants as much as she wants to channel. She says she knows what it is for her: to make Elaida rue the day she ever claimed Siuan was a Darkfriend. Leane chimes in to add Alviarin to this, and Min urges them on to where she has hidden horses. They reach the horses without further incident, and Min introduces Siuan to Bela as the most suitable for an inexperienced rider.
“Her horse.” Gawyn stepped from behind a wide-trunked paperbark, one hand on the long hilt of his sword. The blood streaking his face made exactly the pattern Min had seen in her viewing, her first day back in Tar Valon. “I knew you must be up to something, Min, when I saw her horse.” His red-gold hair was matted with blood, his blue eyes half-dazed, but he walked toward them smoothly, a tall man with a catlike grace. A cat stalking mice.
Min tries to stop him, but he flicks Siuan’s hood back with his sword, and says her disguise will not fool him, and demands she tell him where his sister and Egwene are. Siuan answers calmly that the last she heard, they were safe, but she does not know where they are now. Gawyn says softly that he is done with Aes Sedai word games, and Siuan tells him without hesitation that they are in Illian, studying with a sister named Mara Tomanes. He murmurs “not Tear”, and then remarks that they are saying Siuan is Black Ajah. Min puts a hand on his wrist, and says that surely he cannot believe she would help anyone who is a Darkfriend, and that his own sister and Egwene both support and believe in Siuan. He trembles, but says nothing. Siuan tells him that yesterday she was the most powerful woman in the world, and tonight she may be sleeping under a bush; is that not punishment enough? Gawyn sheathes his sword, and tells her that he only lets her go because he is not ready for her to be killed, for what she knows. Min asks him to come along, but he tells her not to ask for more than he can give.
“I will take you to the nearest gate. You would never get out without me. That’s all I can do, Min, and it is more than I should. Your arrest has been ordered; did you know that?” His eyes swung back to Siuan. “If anything happens to them,” he said in that expressionless voice, “to Egwene or my sister, I will find you, wherever you hide, and I will make sure the same happens to you.”
He marches off a little way, and Siuan says unsteadily that she’d forgotten what it is like to face someone able to kill her so easily. She looks at Leane, studying the changes in her face. She says she thought from what she read that the look would take longer to fade, but maybe their rough treatment had something to do with it; but it is not without advantages. She can lie, now, and their faces may well serve as disguises. Min asks if they will age like ordinary people, now, and Siuan answers that no stilled woman has lived long enough to find out, but she intends to. Gawyn harshly orders them to get on with it, and marches off. As they catch up with him, they are joined by some twenty young men, all armed and most sporting wounds. Min tells Siuan that they call themselves the Younglings, but does not tell her that some of the Warders planned to free her and Leane, and might have succeeded were it not for Gawyn and his followers’ intervention. The guards at the gate tell Gawyn that they have orders not to let anyone leave, but Gawyn tells them softly that he means to see these women out, or the guards dead.
The grizzled man shifted uneasily, and one of the others muttered, “He’s the one they say killed Hammar and Coulin.”
Siuan asks coldly if this is true, and Gawyn whirls and says they were friends, but they sided with… Siuan Sanche. He thrusts a paper granting them passage out of the city at Min, and yells at them to get out before he changes his mind, and they hurry out quickly. Leane comments that she always thought Galad was the more dangerous of the two, but now she is not so sure. Siuan wants to stay close to the city, to gather up the Aes Sedai who have fled, but Leane tells her flatly that they will not follow her any longer. Siuan snaps back that she knows, but wants to make sure they pick the right person to take her place; Leane can go off and raise children if she wants. Siuan asks Min if the Gawyn’s paper specifies three women, and when Min says it does not, boots Bela ahead to cut off a man she had been watching skulking around in the street ahead of them, who turns out to be Logain. Logain slumps in defeat, and says he just wanted to go somewhere to die in peace, but he’s tried all the bridges and no one will let him across. Then he realizes they are not Aes Sedai, and asks who they are. Siuan tells him she is the one who can take him out of Tar Valon, and give him his chance for revenge on the Red Ajah. Logain studies her a moment, and then tells him he is her man. Min and Leane are astounded, and Min can’t imagine what use Logain would be to them; suddenly she sees the gold and blue aura around him again, speaking of glory to come.
For a moment she let herself think of the images she had glimpsed, just for a moment, flickering around Gawyn’s head. Gawyn kneeling at Egwene’s feet with his head bowed, and Gawyn breaking Egwene’s neck, first one then the other, as if either could be the future.
The things she saw were very rarely as clear in meaning as those two, and she had never before seen that fluttering back and forth, as though not even the viewing could tell which would be the true future. Worse, she had a feeling near to certainty that it was what she had done this day that had turned Gawyn toward those two possibilities.
She shivers, thinking that it’s too late to change what she had done, and hopes it was worth it.
And we mark TSR kicking into high gear for the Big Ass Ending riiight – now. The chapter title is awesomely tsk tsk.
From my current perspective, Siuan’s downfall seems inevitable and only to be expected, but I was shocked, when I read it for the first time, at how far Jordan took it. I was expecting that Elaida was going to make trouble, but that she not only staged a full-on palace coup, but stilled both Siuan and Leane… well, I was appalled. Remember that at this point we had been assured multiple times that stilling was irreversible, and even the secondary effects of, you know, wanting to die aside, the notion of having your power just taken away from you like that is horrifying. I felt horrible for both Siuan and Leane. Still do, really.
I was also infuriated at Gawyn – a reaction which I am hardly alone in, judging from what other people have had to say about the Tower coup in general. I know that the reasoning is supposed to be that he hated Siuan for hiding Elayne and Egwene from him, and I suppose that that’s even sufficient justification, viewed objectively, but AARRGH.
Seriously, I can’t even fathom the reasoning here. How could he have done that? How could he have sided with Elaida? Even leaving aside that it’s frickin’ Elaida, how could he have sided with a usurper, no matter how much he might have not cared for the rightfully placed ruler? Hello, isn’t he a prince? Participating in a frickin’ coup d’etat didn’t set off some cognitive dissonance, there?
Agh, see, I’m reduced to using too many italics, that’s how much Gawyn has pissed me off. I just want to smack him upside the head. With an oar. AARRGH. Idiot!
(And where was Galad in all this? I can’t remember if we found out later whether he participated or not. Or had he already run off to become a Whitecloak (*headdesk* *headdesk*) by this time? God damn, but this family is fucked up.)
I was also disproportionately sad to find out that Hammar had died. We only got to see him once, when he presided over Mat’s ass-kicking of Dumb and Dumber in TDR, but he was awesome in his brief screen time. What a waste. Do we ever find out whose Warder he was?
This chapter also reiterates why Min is an exceedingly cool character, because UNLIKE SOME PEOPLE, she doesn’t let her personal likes and dislikes deter her from doing the right thing. Although, I can’t help thinking that Min is currently putting herself in a position to be a living embodiment of the old saw that no good deed goes unpunished.
Laras was also great; I do like when a minor character that can generally be described in one sentence comes out and does something to contradict that two-dimensionality.
Some Jordan Mysteries are further confuzled in this chapter, namely the Mesaana deep cover persona and the issue of the Ageless Look. The Ageless thing just puzzled me on first reading; not on what was going on with it, exactly, but more that I couldn’t figure out why it was being made such a big deal of. I found out later, of course – I’d say the issue of whether you’re cutting your life span in half is pretty major, actually.
As for Mesaana, my memory of KOD is very hazy but I’m pretty sure we still don’t find out for sure who she was masquerading as in the Tower; if I’m wrong I’m sure someone in the comments will correct me Toot Sweet. However, assuming I’m not wrong, Danelle became a major candidate for her cover identity mostly on the basis of this chapter (and Alviarin’s thoughts on the subject later). It’s definitely the theory I subscribe(d) to, because I never bought Tarna Feir as Mesaana for a second, especially not after her very un-Red-like behavior in COT. (My reasons why are pretty well summed up in the FAQ entry on the subject.)
There’s also the issue of Alric, Siuan’s Warder, which people have claimed as a gaffe because Siuan’s failure to notice that he was dead until she saw him contradicts all the other lore we have concerning the Warder bond. This is one of those that I do believe is something of a screw-up, but for plot-related reasons couldn’t really be corrected without rewriting the entire scene; that whole sequence hinges on the fact that Siuan is taken completely by surprise. Thus the ex post facto sort-of explanation we get about it in LOC:
“Alric, her Warder. Her dead Warder, murdered when Elaida deposed her. She could lie – the Three Oaths were still gone – but some part of her bond to Alric, a bond flesh to flesh and mind to mind, had been resurrected. The pain of his death, the pain first masked by the shock of what Elaida intended and then buried by stilling, that pain filled her to the brim.”
*shrug* It’s a thing. I don’t let it keep me up nights.
Chapter 48: An Offer Refused
Aviendha walks alongside Rand’s horse, needling him about Isendre. She says contemptuously that Isendre is weak and soft, but Rand, watching her watch him from the wagon with Kadere, disagrees about the “soft” part. Aviendha starts muttering about Elayne and taking Rand as gai’shain to her, and Rand tries to divert her by asking her to explain about roofmistresses, which she does with ill grace; Rand thinks about how he had finally gotten Bair to admit that Aviendha had not gone through the glass columns on her trip to Rhiudean, so he cannot figure out why she hates him so much. Her lectures, though, and even her tantrums, have been the most pleasurable part of the last eleven days.
If she saw a man she hated, at least she was too wrapped up in that to see He Who Comes With the Dawn, or the Dragon Reborn. Just Rand al’Thor. At any rate, she knew what she thought of him. Not like Elayne, with one letter that made his ears grow hot and another written the same day that made him wonder if he had grown fangs and horns like a Trolloc.
He is disturbed, though, that now Aviendha has started to appear in his dreams along with Min and Elayne. Moiraine has continued to try to bully him into revealing his plans; Aviendha thinks he is a fool for angering her. Egwene spends most of her time with the Wise Ones, and finally has taken her hair out of the two braids; Rand has figured out that she is passing for full Aes Sedai again. The Jindo seem a little easier around him now, but other than Aviendha no one really talks to him that much, except for when Lan and Rhuarc come to practice the sword and the spear with him, and except for Kadere, who has been continuously hinting that he has information he’d like to sell. Rand tells him that he’s not sure knowledge is always worth the price. Natael came by on the first evening to tell Rand that the Dragon Reborn should have someone to compose the great epic of his story. He asked as “research” how Rand feels about his prophesied destiny. Rand answered that he feels tired. Natael murmured that it was hardly a heroic emotion, but understandable, considering the world is full of people who either want to kill him or use him. Rand asked which one is Natael.
“I? I am a simple gleeman.” The man lifted an edge of his patch-covered cloak as if for proof. “I would not take your place for all the world, not with the fate that accompanies it. Death or madness, or both. ‘His blood on the rocks of Shayol Ghul . . . ’ That is what The Karaethon Cycle, the Prophecies of the Dragon, says, is it not? That you must die to save fools who will heave a sigh of relief at your death. No, I would not accept that for all your power and more.”
Rand thinks of how Natael had continued to pester him about his epic over the following days, but only seemed interested in the morbid details of how Rand was going to deal with madness and death. Natael finally seemed to have gotten tired of Rand’s repeated answer of “I will do what I must”, and left him alone; now he spends most of his time in the Shaido camp. Aviendha spends some of her time with the Wise Ones, and Rand realizes it is to learn to channel the day a giant ball of fire streaks out from their group. He is bitterly amused that Aviendha gets a teacher when he does not. Mat has been mostly avoiding him, refusing to talk about Rhuidean when he does talk to Rand, and claiming he remembers nothing of the ter’angreal, and then contradicting himself by warning Rand that “they” cheat. He spends most of his time dicing with the wagon drivers and pursuing Isendre. Isendre doesn’t discourage it, and Kadere never says a word. One afternoon Rand overhears Keille march up to where Mat is chatting up Isendre and offer to sell her to him for a gold mark. Isendre threatens Keille and marches off, and Keille pinches Mat’s cheek, saying few men have refused her twice, and he should be careful she doesn’t decide to do something about it. Then she looks at Rand.
“Tell him, my Lord Dragon. I have a feeling you know something of the dangers of scorning a woman. That Aiel girl who follows you about, glaring. I hear you belong to another. Perhaps she feels scorned.”
“I doubt it, Mistress,” he said dryly. “Aviendha would plant a knife in my ribs if she believed I had thought of her that way.”
After she leaves, Mat mutters “they’re all crazy”, but does not stop going after Isendre. Now, on the twelfth day, Rand realizes he hasn’t heard a word of Aviendha’s lecture on roofmistresses, and had just been listening to the sound of her voice. Rhuarc comes to tell him that they have arrived at Cold Rocks Hold.
Jordan does love his nested flashback sequences, and I apologize for the rather confusing tense changes in my recap as a result. Basically this is a catch-up chapter to get us from where we left off with Rand’s storyline at Imre Stand to where the next major thing happens, at Cold Rocks Hold.
There are some items of interest here, though. This is where Rand’s feelings for Aviendha are really starting to shift toward Wuv, and if his reasons for doing so are more than a little bizarre (he likes that she hates him personally, instead of as a prophesied destroyer!), at least they have the distinction of being fairly unique. I still don’t know that I buy it as a romance overall, but this is an ongoing issue with Rand’s Three Women, and basically at some point you either have to accept it and move on, or, well, not.
Natael: the interesting thing about his quote above is that it’s strangely honest. Not just in that I think Asmodean is actually being sincere (I do), but in that he’s saying what everyone else is thinking, which is that any sane person would not want to be in Rand’s shoes for all the whiskey in Ireland. That Asmodean means this as a segue into trying to bring Rand to the Dark Side is just a detail, heh.
(Though, is that what he’s doing? It seems like Asmodean has his own agenda here; my impression is that he’s going along with Lanfear’s “teaching” proposition while in the meantime plotting to get into Rhuidean and steal the access ter’angreal, in which case it seems like he shouldn’t give a shit whether Rand turns or not. But hey, maybe it’s for the sake of appearances. Or maybe he just really is that morbid.)
Mat spends what little appearance he has in this chapter being alternately amusing (contradicting himself over the Foxes) and backsliding into being a bit of a dumbass. I don’t like seeing him make a fool of himself. As a side note, I think that while he’s being stupid in pursuing Isendre, I don’t think he’s being a pig about it, at least according to his own rules. If Isendre had told him to get lost, he would have, and that’s pretty much what matters. So he’s not exactly covering himself in glory here, but at least he’s not hurting anyone but himself.
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