The Wheel of Time Reread

The Wheel of Time Re-read: The Fires of Heaven, Part 20

Whoo, Monday, whoo, Wheel of Time, whoo Re-read. Whoo. Yee-haw.

I’m enthused. No really, I am. Whoo. Chapters 47-48 of The Fires of Heaven, whoo.

Previous entries, whee. Spoilers for this and all other previously published novels in the Wheel of Time series, booyah. Yippee-ki-yay, uh-huh.

Enthusiasm! I has it. Rah, rah, sis boom bah.

Oh, and the podcast went well, I think. Only time will tell if I made a complete fool of myself or not, but I had fun. The good part is, if I did, make a fool of myself I mean, the whole Internets will find out at the same time I do. Whoo? Whoo!

Anyways, I’ll be sure and let y’all know when it’s up and ready for your edification and delectation. Yippee-skippy!

And, yeah. Post? Post!

Chapter 47: The Price of a Ship

What Happens
Nynaeve dresses for the day and thinks about her nightmares, which she attributes to stress from the past three days of waiting, though she doesn’t understand why Egwene had been in nearly every one of them, “yammering” at her. She trades barbs with Elayne about her breeches, and Elayne glares and comments that she dreamed about Egwene last night, who said that Nynaeve was turning into a screaming harridan, but Elayne would say a fishmonger, herself. Nynaeve starts to snap back, but then stops.

With an effort she forced her voice to be level. “You dreamed about Egwene?” Elayne nodded curtly. “And she talked of Rand and Cairhien?” The younger woman rolled her eyes in exaggerated exasperation and went on with her, braid. Nynaeve made her hand loose its fistful of brassy red hair, made herself stop thinking of teaching the Daughter-Heir of bloody Andor some simple common courtesy. If they did not find a ship soon…

Nynaeve continues that she dreamed of Egwene too, who told her that Rand had won a great victory at Cairhien. They discuss her news, with many acid asides to each other, and Elayne opines that they should use the ring again. Nynaeve says no, but Elayne points out that if they could learn how to do this talking in your own dreams thing, they wouldn’t have to worry about meeting Moghedien in the Dreamworld. Nynaeve says dryly that she doubts it’s quite that easy to learn, but admits to herself she can see the value of it. Elayne wonders, though, why Egwene had been so insistent that they not tell anyone, and worries about the fact that the last time, Egwene had vanished in mid-sentence, looking frightened. Nynaeve is still against the idea, but the notion that Egwene might be danger gives her pause.

Sometimes it seemed to Nynaeve that she had forgotten why she had left the Two Rivers in the first place. To protect young people from her village who had been caught in Aes Sedai webs […] Somehow, though, protecting Rand and Egwene and Mat and Perrin from Aes Sedai had become helping them survive, and finally, without her quite realizing when or how, even that goal had been submerged in other needs. Entering the White Tower to learn how better to pull down Moiraine had become a burning desire to learn how to Heal. Even her hatred for Aes Sedai meddling in people’s lives now coexisted with her desire to become one. Not that she really wanted to, but it was the only way to learn what she wanted to learn. Everything had become as tangled as one of those Aes Sedai webs, herself included, and she did not know how to escape.

Nynaeve announces that she will use the ring that night; Elayne watches her silently, and Nynaeve interprets this as skepticism, and admits to herself that she’d had a brief thought about only pretending to go, and hurries to finish and get away from the other woman. Birgitte bursts in, and laughs at Nynaeve, who’d thought it was Luca and was trying to cover up, and advises her to “breathe deeply”, demonstrating in her own dress. Nynaeve accuses her of being easy, and Birgitte accuses her of being an ice queen, and Elayne jumps in between them before it comes to blows.

“Both of you stop it this minute,” she said, eyeing them in turn with equal haughtiness. “Lini always said ‘Waiting turns men into bears in a barn, and women into cats in a sack,’ but you will stop clawing at one another right now! I will not put up with it any longer!”

Birgitte blushes and apologizes – to Elayne, not Nynaeve – but Nynaeve just glares, thinking Elayne certainly had no room to talk. Birgitte tells them that Juilin and Thom are back from town, and both Elayne and Nynaeve are incensed to learn they’d gone in the first place. The three women go outside to find Juilin and Thom nursing injuries, and Elayne gasps and runs to Thom, exclaiming over his wounds. He tries to fend her off while Nynaeve demands to know what they were thinking, going into town and almost getting killed when finding a ship has already been taken care of. Juilin tells her Samara is “a school of silverpike around a chunk of bloody meat”, with mobs roaming everywhere. Birgitte observes that there are a couple of fires starting, and Juilin says it’ll be more than that soon, and it’s time to go; they won’t stand out enough for Moghedien to notice, with people running in every direction, and anyway it won’t matter if they end up torn to pieces by a mob. Nynaeve tells him sharply not to use that name, and thinks the problem is he was right. She’s not ready to admit that, though, and says she will consider it; she would hate to find out a ship showed up after they left. The men look at her like she’s crazy, but then she spies Uno approaching and brightens, saying perhaps it’s arrived already.

As usual [Uno] grinned at Birgitte as soon as he saw her, and rolled his lone eye in an ostentatious stare at her exposed bosom, and as usual she grinned back and eyed him up and down lazily. For once, though, Nynaeve did not care how reprehensibly they behaved. “Is there a ship?”

Uno’s grin faded. “There’s a bloo— a ship,” he said grimly, “if I can get you to it whole.”

Nynaeve replies that surely fifteen Shienarans can get them through, and Uno tells her (choking off obscenities – Nynaeve had found it necessary to forbid swearing entirely when he wouldn’t hold to the “every other sentence” rule) that Masema’s people are fighting Whitecloaks, and he’s ordered his people to “take Amadicia with fire and sword”. Nynaeve returns that that changes nothing; Elayne puts in regally that she had heard many stories of the bravery of Shienar’s soldiers, and Birgitte steps up and massages the back of his neck.

“Three thousand years guarding the Blight,” she said gently. Gently. It had been two days since she had spoken to Nynaeve like that! “Three thousand years, and never a step back not paid for ten times over in blood. This may not be Enkara, or the Soralle Step, but I know what you will do.”

Uno growls, and asks Thom and Juilin if they can’t talk to them; Thom laughs and asks when a woman has ever listened to sense when she doesn’t want to, and grunts when Elayne begins cleaning his scalp wound with perhaps more force than necessary. Uno shakes his head, and explains that Masema’s people found the boat, but then Whitecloaks seized it, and that’s what started this whole business; Masema’s probably forgotten all about the boat by now, but his people didn’t get the message, and there’s fighting at the docks. And he has no idea how he’s supposed to get them on a boat still in Whitecloak hands. Nynaeve is stunned, and thinks it had to be a coincidence, but then Galad appears, dressed in ordinary clothes instead of a Whitecloak uniform. The female circus performers in eyeshot all react to the sight of his face. Nynaeve demands to know why he seized the boat as soon as he comes up to them, and Galad gives her an incredulous look and replies she asked him to secure passage, didn’t she?

“I didn’t ask you to start a riot!”

“A riot?” Elayne put in. “A war. An invasion. All begun over this vessel.”

Galad answered calmly. “I gave Nynaeve my word, sister. My first duty is to see you safely on your way to Caemlyn. And Nynaeve, of course. The Children would have had to fight this Prophet soon or late.”

“Couldn’t you simply have let us know the ship was here?” Nynaeve asked wearily. Men and their word. It was all very admirable, sometimes, but she should have listened when Elayne said he did what he saw as right no matter who was hurt.

Galad replies that he didn’t know what the Prophet wanted the ship for, but he doubts it was to give them passage downriver. Nynaeve flinches, and he goes on that he doesn’t understand what the problem is; they asked for a ship and he got them one. Thom remarks dryly that the price has been paid for it, so they might as well take it, and Nynaeve flinches again. Galad understates that there might be trouble reaching the river, and asks Uno if his friend is still about. Uno smiles back evilly and allows as to how there might be one or two more, and they’ll see whether the Whitecloaks hang on to this ship or not.

Elayne opened her mouth, but Nynaeve spoke up quickly. “That’s enough, both of you!” Elayne would just have tried honeyed words again. They might have worked, but she wanted to lash out. At something, anything. “We need to move quickly.” She should have considered, when she flung two madmen at the same target, what might happen if they both hit at once.

Luca hurries back into camp, sporting some bruises of his own, and begins bellowing for everyone to pack up and get ready to leave; anything not ready to go in an hour gets left behind, unless they want to find themselves conscripted into marching on Amadicia for the Prophet. The camp explodes into activity, and Luca comes up to Nynaeve and tells her he wants to talk to her alone. She tries to tell him they are not going with him, but he grabs her arm and pulls her away from the others; Nynaeve is annoyed that none of her companions seem to have a problem with this. She jerks her arm free and says she supposes this is about the money, and he will have his hundred gold marks. Luca replies angrily that he is not interested in the gold. Nynaeve crosses her arms and immediately wishes she hadn’t, but surprisingly Luca doesn’t take his eyes from her face. Nynaeve wonders if he’s ill, and asks what this is about, then. Luca says he’s been thinking about how she was going to leave, and he doesn’t know what she’s running from, or whether any of their story is true, but he wants her to stay; there’s a whole world out there, and whoever’s looking for her will never find her with him. Nynaeve doesn’t understand, and asks why she should stay when they have intended to reach Ghealdan from the beginning.

“Why? Why, to have my children, of course.” He took one of her hands in both of his. “Nana, your eyes drink my soul, your lips inflame my heart, your shoulders make my pulse race, your —”

She cut in hurriedly. “You want to marry me?” she said incredulously.

“Marry?” He blinked. “Well… uh… yes. Yes, of course.” His voice picked up strength again, and he pressed her fingers to his lips. “We will be wed at the first town where I can arrange it. I’ve never asked another woman to marry me.”

“I can quite believe it,” she said faintly.

She pulls her hand free and tells him she appreciates it, but she is betrothed to another; Luca says he should bundle her off and make her forget the fellow, and she replies he’ll be sorry if he tries it. This doesn’t seem to put him off, and she tells him he doesn’t know anything about her or her enemies, and he should be glad he doesn’t; she is going, so he may as well stop blathering.

Luca sighed heavily. “You are the only woman for me, Nana. Let other men choose boring flutterers with their shy sighs. A man would know he had to walk through fire and tame a lioness with his bare hands every time he approached you. Every day an adventure, and every night…” His smile almost earned him boxed ears. “I will find you again, Nana, and you will choose me. I know it in here.” Thumping his chest dramatically, he gave his cape an even more pretentious swirl. “And you know it, too, my dearest Nana. In your fair heart, you do.”

Nynaeve did not know whether to shake her head or gape. Men were mad. All of them.

Elayne stalks through the bedlam of camp, muttering to herself about Nynaeve’s comments about her breeches, and her refusal to believe Elayne about Galad and what it had wrought. Birgitte asks if she said something, and Elayne stops and asks Birgitte what she thinks of how Elayne is dressed.

“It allows freedom of movement,” the other woman said judiciously. Elayne nodded. “Of course, it’s good that your bottom isn’t too big, as tight as those —”

Striding on furiously, Elayne tugged the coat down with sharp yanks. Nynaeve’s tongue had nothing on Birgitte’s. She really should have required some oath of obedience, or at least some show of proper respect.

Elayne finds Cerandin and tells her they must speak, but Cerandin is concerned with getting the s’redit ready to leave and impatiently asks what she wants. Elayne tells her they are leaving, and Cerandin is coming with them. Cerandin doesn’t think a riverboat can carry s’redit, and Elayne tells her they will have to be left behind; they will need Cerandin’s information on her people where they are going. Cerandin shakes her head and says no, and Elayne tells the woman her true name and rank, expecting Cerandin’s upbringing would guarantee her obedience. Cerandin tells her she believed Elayne’s claim to be a lady at first, but now… She eyes Elayne’s breeches, and Elayne is astounded. She tries to grab Cerandin’s arm, and Cerandin puts her in an armlock. Birgitte doesn’t do a thing, and Elayne demands that Cerandin release her. Finally she does, and tells her she will always be a friend, and maybe one day she will rise high enough to be a lord’s asa one day, and bids her farewell. She walks off, and Elayne growls at Birgitte that she was a fat lot of help; isn’t she supposed to be Elayne’s Warder?

“I will defend you when you are in danger, but if the danger is only of being turned over someone’s knee because you’ve behaved like a spoiled child, I will have to decide whether it’s better to let you learn a lesson that might save you the same or worse another time. Telling her you were heir to a throne! Really! If you are going to be Aes Sedai, you had better start practicing how to bend the truth, not break it into shards.”

Elayne gapes at her, and stutters, but she is! Birgitte rolls her eyes at the breeches and replies, if Elayne says so. Elayne throws her head back and screams her frustration, silencing the camp for a moment. Birgitte asks if she needs a wet nurse, and Elayne snarls and marches off.

Commentary
So there’s a little old lady out there somewhere whose poor heart may never be the same, because she happened to be sitting next to me on the subway when I got to Luca’s “marriage proposal”. HAHAHAHAHA!

*wipes tears* Oh, the funny. The line about having his children…! Holy crap. I don’t know whether to be sorry for Luca or slap him upside the head. Maybe both. The best thing about it, of course, is how completely clueless Nynaeve is. Too hilarious.

It’s a good enjoyment to have, since otherwise this is a chapter about pissy people behaving pissily. It’s understandable, but otherwise pretty annoying to read about, really.

It cannot be denied that Nynaeve screwed up here, but she does have a point that no one else considered that Galad and Masema might end up in conflict over the same ship, either. Perhaps it is a poor defense, but I remember that it certainly hadn’t occurred to me, the first time through. It seems to me to be a logical – if regrettable – kind of mistake to make. Whether my status as a Nynaeve fan is influencing my view here is an exercise left to the reader.

Elayne: on the one hand, I laughed at her scream, because no one believing you when you are telling the truth is annoying beyond belief, but on the other, good Lord. How could she possibly have thought Cerandin would just abandon her elephants? I’ve known people who work with animals, so I have a pretty good grasp of how they regard them, and true, Elayne may not have, but even so, jeez. I could see that reaction coming a mile away.

On the other other hand, I thought it was awfully sexist that everyone, even Birgitte, was judging Elayne just because she was wearing breeches. I thought it was especially stupid coming from Birgitte, considering trousers are her normal attire. Baggy trousers, yeah, but still. I know that the values are different, etc., and the whole thing was supposed to be played for comedy, but I have to admit I had some trouble with it, especially since I really don’t recall that Min got that much flak for wearing men’s clothes. The whole thing struck me as really… catty. If the girl wants to wear pants, she can wear pants! Sheesh.

Galad: See? Elayne was right! She really is, you guys. You can still not like her for whatever reason, but she is not delusional about Galad. The guy started a freakin’ war to get a boat. Hello! You can nitpick whether that was Nynaeve’s fault, but let’s not deny Galad’s culpability, hm? I’m just saying.
Chapter 48: Leavetakings

What Happens
In the wagon, Nynaeve changes into a wool dress and packs the things she wants to take, leaving the a’dam and the silver arrow.

For a moment she frowned at the arrow, contemplating Moghedien. It was best to do whatever was necessary to avoid her. It was. I bested her once! And had been hung up like a sausage in the kitchen the second time. If not for Birgitte… She made her own choice. The woman had said so, and it was true. I could defeat her again. I could. But if I failed… If she failed…

Bracing herself, she takes out the seal, telling herself she only imagines that it reeks of evil, and wraps it securely to take as well. Elayne enters and begins packing; her silence speaks volumes when she sees that Nynaeve has taken the ring and left her the other two ter’angreal that allow entrance to the Dreamworld. She packs the a’dam too, meeting Nynaeve’s sniff with a chilly stare. Outside, the men and Birgitte are waiting impatiently, which Nynaeve doesn’t think is very fair, considering they had nothing to pack. Birgitte is dressed almost as she was in Tel’aran’rhiod, courtesy of Clarine, who comes by to bid them farewell along with most of the other performers except Cerandin, who Nynaeve is just as glad not to see. Luca shows up last, and gives Nynaeve a bunch of limp wildflowers along with undying protestations of his love and assurances that he will find her again. Nynaeve gets redder and redder, and doesn’t dare look at either Elayne or Birgitte. Finally Luca flourishes himself away, and once they are outside the camp Nynaeve hurls the flowers down in a fury, making Ragan and the other Shienarans stare.

Lan had never given her flowers. Not that that was of any account. He had expressed his feelings in words deeper and more heartfelt than Valan Luca could ever manage. She had meant every word to Luca, but if Lan said he was going to carry you off, threats would never stop him; channeling would not stop him unless you managed it before he turned your brain and your knees to jelly with kisses. Still, flowers would have been nice. Nicer than another explanation of why their love could never be, certainly. Men and their word! Men and their honor! Wedded to death, was he? Him and his personal war with the Shadow! He was going to live, he was going to wed her, and if he thought differently on either point, she intended to set him straight. There was only the small matter of his bond to Moiraine to deal with. She could have screamed in frustration.

The others catch up with her, and Elayne sniffs while Birgitte mutters audibly; Nynaeve ignores them both. The men and Birgitte spread out to flank them, and Nynaeve thinks they are being a little ridiculous until they reach Samara, and then wishes they had a hundred more men. It is deserted where they enter, but the wrecked houses are littered with corpses, and Nynaeve can hear the roar of the mob in the distance as they search for more victims. Then suddenly they come upon them, and the mob sees their group and attacks. Nynaeve is angry enough to embrace saidar, and sees Elayne has done the same, but they dare do nothing unless there was no other choice. Birgitte’s arrow takes the lead attacker in the eye, and then the mob hits the Shienarans, whose line does not break; Juilin is cracking skulls in that line, too, and Thom is darting in and out from behind them with his knives, while Birgitte’s every arrow finds an eye.

Yet if they held the mob, it was Galad who broke them. He faced their charge as though awaiting the next dance at a ball, arms folded and unconcerned, not even bothering to bare his blade until they were almost on top of him. Then he did dance, all his grace turned in an instant to fluid death.

Their attackers soon break and run, and Nynaeve shivers. She thanks the men, sincerely, and when Birgitte nods as well in acknowledgement, makes herself tell Birgitte that she shot very well. Birgitte grins, knowing how hard that was for her to say. Most of the men except Galad are wounded, but all insist their injuries are not serious. They hear the mob again as they continue on, but word must have gotten around, for they are not molested again until they reach the docks, where they are confronted by two dozen Whitecloaks. Galad speaks to them, and the Whitecloaks doubtfully let them through to where the Riverserpent is moored, with a small crowd of women, children and older men clustered hopefully nearby; Nynaeve’s heart goes out to them. Galad hustles her and Elayne onto the boat, where Neres, the captain, demands extra for the “other wench” and the men. Nynaeve tells him he’ll be taking other passengers as well, nodding toward the refugees; Neres is about to refuse, when he catches sight of Thom, Juilin and Uno staring at him blandly while covered in blood, and gives in with ill grace. Nynaeve sniffs and goes over to where Galad is speaking to Elayne; he apologizes to her that he could only afford to pay their passage to Boannda, so they will have to make their own way to Caemlyn from there. Elayne comments that he’s done quite enough, watching the plumes of smoke above Samara, and he replies wearily that he promised.

Nynaeve managed to offer her thanks, which he dismissed graciously, but with a look as if she, too, did not understand. And she was more than ready to admit as much. He started a war to keep a promise — Elayne was right about that; it would be a war, if it was not already — yet, with his men holding Neres’ ship, he would not demand a better price. It was Neres’ ship, and Neres could charge as he chose. As long as he took Elayne and Nynaeve. It was true: Galad never counted the cost of doing right, not to himself or anyone else.

Galad pauses at the gangplank, and warns them to stay clear of Rand al’Thor; he brings destruction, and will break the world again before he’s done. He leaves, and Nynaeve thinks surely he couldn’t have guessed they have no intention of going to Caemlyn. She and Elayne share a wondering look until they remember they are not speaking, and look away again hastily.

Commentary
Well, we are finally away from the circus, so hooray for that, but everyone’s still being pissy, and wow that’s getting old. It’s funny; a lot of people have historically complained about the circus section, but I didn’t get annoyed with it until here, right as they are about to leave anyway. Is that irony?

Speaking of annoying, isn’t it annoying when people are annoying, yet badass at the same time? This is how I feel about Galad. Of course, I suspect this is how I’m supposed to feel about Galad, so there’s that.

I really really really hope he and Rand meet up at some point in the last three books, and I really really really hope that someone clues him in to the fact that he and Rand are half-brothers, because damn I want to see that reaction. (Rand already knows, or at least knows enough to be able to make the connection, though I’m also going to take a moment to feel annoyed that we’ve never gotten Rand’s thoughts on the situation either.) I really want to see this, you guys. This is right up there with my wishes for a Rand/Tam reunion. Please, Santa, I have been so good!

Luca: heh. Still funny. The bedraggled wildflowers were a nice touch, but more touching was Nynaeve’s thoughts about Lan, because man I can see how that would make you want to bite things. We know how it all comes out now, of course, but I remember at the time I was like, damn, girl, that bites.

The commenters were talking recently about a problem that’s been brought up often with regard to Nynaeve and Lan, and Moiraine/Thom and Rand/Min for that matter, which is the knowledge that the channeler half of these various relationships is going to outlive the non-channeler half by about three or even four times as many years, which kind of totally sucks. And I agree, but I’m not necessarily sure that that’s grounds for calling the whole thing off. Sure, the channelers could live for 600 years or however long, but they could also get hit by a bus tomorrow, or (perhaps slightly more likely) get killed in the Big Ass Showdown we’re all hoping to see Real Soon Now.

Nothing is guaranteed. Even if you only get to have your love for ten years, or one, or two weeks, ‘tis better to have loved and lost than to blah blah blah, right? Otherwise you get what most of the Aes Sedai of current times do, which is to lock yourself up in your long-lived ivory tower (literally) and get completely cut off from life-type things to put it all in perspective. Either side has legit arguments, but me, I’m gonna say take what happiness you can, and pay for it when you have to. The alternative is to have safe, boring non-happiness for forever and ever. Which, yeah, no. Call me crazy.


Hey, quit calling me crazy! Well, fine! Screw you guys, I’m going home. Maybe I’ll be back on Wednesday. MAYBE.

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