The Wheel of Time Reread

The Wheel of Time Re-read: Lord of Chaos, Part 9

Hearken, ye peeps, pink and yellow alike! It is the Wheel of Time Re-read! Oui, c’est vrai!

Words that start with “v” are cool. Today ve vill be viping your vindows, and also covering Chapters 12-13 of Lord of Chaos, in vhich Nynaeve makes friends and influences people, and Our Heroines go shopping for tchotchkes, like, omigod!

Previous entries are here, and all posts contain spoilers for all currently published novels in the Wheel of Time series. So if you haven’t read, don’t read. The Management would like you to know that we are NOT responsible.

(This intro has been an exercise in seeing how much bizarre free association I can cram into five-ish paragraphs. Almond Joy!)

Chapter 12: Questions and Answers

 

What Happens
Elayne and Nynaeve are in their room, trying to penetrate the ward against eavesdropping over the Hall with weaves Moghedien claimed would slip through it undetected, but are having no luck. Moghedien, who Nynaeve irritably notes is not sweating, says calmly that there are a thousand ways to spin wards, and it can take days to get through one sometimes. Elayne sighs and says she has to go, and tries to give the a’dam bracelet to Nynaeve, but Nynaeve has to help Janya and Delana with their notes. Elayne goes to leave it, but Nynaeve insists she wear it, thinking that Elayne is entirely too trusting of the a’dam, and not nearly wary enough of the possibility of a Forsaken finding a way around it. Elayne leaves, and Moghedien’s manner abruptly changes; she tells Nynaeve that perhaps she ought to go to al’Thor; sooner or later the Aes Sedai are going to start really digging to find out how she made those wonderful discoveries when she can’t even channel when she wants to. Nynaeve is puzzled by her sudden confidence.

“Just you remember, whatever happens to me if they find out the truth, your head will be on the chopping block before the week is done.”

“Whereas you will have much longer to suffer. Semirhage once made a man scream his every waking hour for five years. She even kept him sane, but in the end even she could not keep his heart beating. I doubt any of these children have a tenth of Semirhage’s skill, but you may find out firsthand how much they do have.”

Nynaeve abruptly realizes that this is the first time she’s been alone in a room with Moghedien without the bracelet, and tries to tell herself it doesn’t matter, but she and Moghedien both know it does. Moghedien presses her advantage, suggesting that these “so-called Aes Sedai” might decide to go back to Elaida, and turn her and Elayne over as a peace offering – especially Elayne, if al’Thor’s feelings for her are anywhere near as strong as hers for him. Nynaeve tells her as calmly as she can not to forget her chores, and leaves hastily. Outside, she chews goosemint leaves to settle her stomach, and thinks that she had really believed Moghedien to be cowed, and she and Elayne had obviously talked too freely in front of her. She heads off to her assignment, noting that everyone in Salidar, except the Warders and the children, is hushed and apprehensive. And except for Gareth Bryne, who is waiting patiently in front of the Little Tower as he has been ever since Tarna arrived. She overhears snatches of wild rumors as she walks, everything from Elaida’s death to her allying with an army of Whitecloaks. Everyone is suspicious of everyone else, wondering if Elaida’s swift discovery of Salidar meant there were Tower faction sympathizers in the village. She goes to find Birgitte, and finds her with a group of small children (including Jaril and Seve, “Marigan’s” two boys), and Areina, who is dressed and armed in conscious imitation of Birgitte, and sneers openly at Nynaeve when Nynaeve tells Birgitte she wants to talk alone.

Nynaeve’s face tightened. She had befriended the woman before Birgitte had, but the friendship melted on reaching Salidar. Learning that Nynaeve was not full Aes Sedai brought something more than disappointment. Only a request from Birgitte had held Areina back from informing the Aes Sedai that she had masqueraded as one.

Areina stalks off; Nynaeve looks at the playing children, and suddenly remembers that Jaril and Seve have started talking again, and is seized with fresh worry that they might tell someone they have no idea who “Marigan” is. Birgitte asks what’s wrong, and Nynaeve asks if she could get horses for herself, Nynaeve, Elayne, and Marigan (and Thom and Juilin if they get back in time) without Uno’s help. Birgitte argues against the notion of leaving without the Shienarans, pointing out that four women alone in the turmoil that is Altara is just asking for trouble. She concludes that if Elayne tells her to do so, she’ll get the horses, but not before then.

The unyielding finality of her tone heated Nynaeve’s face angrily. If she did ask Elayne ever so sweetly to tell Birgitte that Uno was to stay here, they might well find him waiting down the road, and Birgitte all amazement over how he knew they were going and which way. The woman might be Elayne’s Warder, but sometimes Nynaeve wondered which of them was really in charge. When she found Lan—when, not if!—she intended to make him swear oaths fit to curl his hair that he would abide by her decisions.

She then tries to convince Birgitte to try spying on the Little Tower’s meetings with Tarna, but Birgitte refuses flatly; she’d been caught spying on Aes Sedai once, and has no intention of ever doing it again. They are interrupted by Nicola, who has brought a message that Janya and Delana are looking for Nynaeve. Nynaeve reflects that ever since Nicola had found out she could be taught to channel, and that her potential was only outstripped by Elayne, Egwene, and Nynaeve herself, she had looked at Nynaeve and Elayne with cool speculation, and behaved just within the bounds of proper behavior for novices to Accepted. Nynaeve quickly finds out that Nicola had deliberately delayed telling her the message, and heads off, but forces herself not to outpace Nicola, who is purposely ambling along.

The situation set a slow burn inside her. Of everybody who could have been sent to fetch her, it was hard to imagine anyone worse than Nicola and her eyes. Birgitte was probably running off to find Uno right that minute. The Sitters were probably telling Tarna they were ready to kneel and kiss Elaida’s ring. Seve and Jaril were probably telling Sheriam they did not know “Marigan” from a wild goose. It had been that kind of day, and the molten sun stood only a quarter toward its peak in the cloudless sky.

They reach Janya and Delana’s quarters. Janya is a typical Brown, and Delana is a hard-eyed Gray; Nynaeve thinks of the stories that say Delana is such an effective negotiator because the parties will agree to anything just to make her stop staring at them. They quickly kick Nicola out, and to Nynaeve’s surprise, Janya offers her tea. It quickly becomes clear that the two sisters want to grill Nynaeve about Rand. Nynaeve sighs that she’s told everyone everything she knows about him, which is actually true, but Delana suspects that Nynaeve’s loyalties to a boy from her own village may outweigh her loyalty to the Tower, and demands to hear something new. This goes on for most of the morning, until they finally let her go. Nynaeve staggers out and heads for her appointment with Theodrin, which she is already late for, and sees the Little Tower, still encased in the eavesdropping ward (which she is angry enough to see). On impulse Nynaeve darts into a side alley and works her way around the Little Tower to the back.

Trying to work some moisture back into her mouth—how could her mouth be so dry when the rest of her was so damp?—she crept closer. One day she wanted to know what it was like to be brave, like Birgitte or Elayne, instead of a coward.

She steps inside the ward to the wall, and inches along to the open window, which to her surprise is the one she wants – Tarna is inside the room, with the Salidar Six. Tarna is asking if they’re sure that’s the message they want to send – that they need more time to consider. The others reply yes, variously, and Tarna contemptuously agrees before sweeping out, leaving Nynaeve frustrated. She starts to edge away, but the Six begin talking, and she waits. Myrelle thinks they should just summon “her”, but Morvrin and Beonin warn that “the forms must be met”, and any deviation would be used against them. Carlinya wants to know how long they are supposed to wait.

“As long as we must.” That from Beonin. “I have not waited this long for the biddable child just to abandon all our plans now.”

For some reason that produced a silence, although Nynaeve did hear someone murmur “biddable” again as if examining the word. What child? A novice or Accepted? It made no sense. Sisters never waited on novices or Accepted.

“We have gone too far to turn back, Carlinya,” Sheriam said finally. “Either we bring her here and make sure she does as she should, or we leave everything to the Hall and hope they do not lead us all to disaster.” From her tone, she considered that last a hope for fools.

“One slip,” Carlinya said coldly, even more coldly than usual, “and we will all end with our heads on pikes.”

“But who will put them there?” Anaiya asked thoughtfully. “Elaida, the Hall, or Rand al’Thor?”

They all leave silently, and Nynaeve starts to back away, puzzling over the conversation, and runs smack into Theodrin. Nynaeve considers whacking Theodrin on the head and running, but doesn’t think this will work. Then Theodrin asks if she has been keeping calm, which is in reference to the latest method she’s trying to break Nynaeve’s block, and after a stunned moment Nynaeve laughs and answers of course. She can’t believe she’s getting off so lightly.

Neither saw the woman watching them from a second-story window.

Commentary
Nynaeve and Elayne’s gradual erosion of control over Moghedien is, I think, mostly part of the set-up for Egwene’s arrival and her assertion of authority in their little cadre. Nynaeve and Elayne have basically been spending their entire Salidar story arc floundering and waffling, and it is definitely deliberate that they do not get their shit straightened out until Egwene shows up to be the Boss of Them. Which is great and all, but doesn’t make it less frustrating to read about in the meantime.

Bryne: Heh. You gotta love the man’s balls. That is all.

Areina and Nicola: Ugh. I have always pretty much despised them. I seem to recall Nicola begins redeeming herself in KOD, but until then they are a giant pain in my ass. Blackmailers suck.

Nynaeve does make an interesting observation about Areina:

The woman could watch Birgitte drink and flirt with men without turning a hair, and even try to emulate her, yet she bristled every time Birgitte wanted to be alone with Elayne or Nynaeve. Men were no threat; only women could be friends in Areina’s book, but only she could be Birgitte’s friend. The idea of having two friends seemed foreign to her.

I’ve known women like this (girls, actually – I’ve never met an adult who acted like this, thank God), and it usually stems from a kind of grand selfishness coupled with crippling self-esteem issues. Which is very sad, and Will Not End Well for anyone involved.

(I highly doubt this phenomenon is exclusive to women, of course, but I can only speak from the experience I have personally.)

Janya and Delana: I don’t have much to say about this, except that the scene takes on an interesting flavor once you know what Delana’s real Ajah is. (Janya is one of the Sitters in the original Hall that fled after the coup and is now a Sitter in the rebel Hall, and is part of the whole “too-young Sitters” mystery that I am so not dealing with until I have to.)

“Biddable child”, blah blah. We know what this is. If I had ever been going to guess this plot twist before Egwene actually gets summoned, this would have been where I did it. I just can’t remember if that was the case. Oh well.

The woman at the window: No clue who it is. I don’t know that we ever find out, or that it matters, except that I highly doubt it was Tarna.

Chapter 13: Under the Dust

What Happens
Nynaeve towels herself dry grumpily as Theodrin examines the black eye Nynaeve gave her, and ruefully agrees that it looks like shock (from, for instance, having a bucket of cold water dumped on you) won’t work on Nynaeve’s block. But, she adds, she is determined to find a way to make Nynaeve embrace saidar without her being “angry enough to bite it” first.

“I am not very good at surrendering,” [Nynaeve] said. Unless there was no point in fighting, anyway. Only a fool went on where there was no chance at all. She could not breathe under water, she could not fly by flapping her arms—and she could not channel except when angry.

Theodrin remarks that by what she’s been taught, Nynaeve shouldn’t be able to channel at all; one must be calm and serene to embrace saidar. She decides to go back to the basics, and she spends hours putting Nynaeve through beginning novice exercises, to no avail. Nynaeve Heals Theodrin’s black eye before she leaves (though part of her wants to leave it), and sees Tarna on the street outside. Nynaeve slips away before the Red sister sees her, thinking bitterly of Theodrin’s instructions that she was not to sleep tonight – maybe exhaustion would work where shock had not. She goes back to her room, where Elayne immediately begins complaining at length about the horrible day she’s had, while Nynaeve contemplates throwing things at her.

“—then Ibrella decided to see how big a flame she could make and nearly set the whole class on fire, and Faolain dressed me down right in front of everybody for not keeping my class under control, and Nicola said she—”

Nynaeve gave up trying to get a word in edgewise—maybe she should have thrown the apple core—and just shouted. “I think Moghedien’s right!”

Shocked, Elayne tells her that is foolish, but Nynaeve thinks that any moment now their subterfuge will be discovered. She also tells Elayne what the Six’s message was to Tarna (“You what?”), which Nynaeve thinks means they’re at least considering going back to Elaida, and they should quit while they’re ahead and go to Rand. Elayne is very much against this idea, and thinks they should stay. They argue it back and forth until they are suddenly interrupted by Tarna herself, to their amazement.

The yellow-haired Red sister scrutinized them, her face arrogant winter marble. “So. The Queen of Andor and the crippled wilder.”

“Not yet, Aes Sedai,” Elayne replied with a cool politeness. “Not until I am crowned in the Great Hall. And only if my mother is dead,” she added.

Tarna dryly observes that their quarters are less than luxurious, and tells Elayne that Elaida has a “special place in her heart” for Elayne, and it would please the Amyrlin greatly if Elayne were to return to the Tower. Elayne refuses coolly, whereupon Tarna tells her to leave; once alone with Nynaeve, she becomes much more casual and attempts to put Nynaeve at ease, which Nynaeve doesn’t buy for a moment.

“Ah. Offended, is it? Why? Because I called you ‘wilder’? I’m a wilder too, you know. Galina Casban beat my block out of me herself. She knew my Ajah long before I did, and took a personal interest in me. She always does in those she thinks will choose Red.”

Nynaeve asks politely what she wants, and Tarna replies that Elayne is important to the Tower, but Nynaeve nearly as much so, with what she knows about Rand al’Thor. She casually asks where Egwene is, and Nynaeve tells her (truthfully) that she hasn’t seen Egwene in a long time. She hesitates, and asks Tarna what Elaida intends with regard to Rand.

“Intend, child? He’s the Dragon Reborn. The Amyrlin knows that, and she intends to give him every honor he deserves.”

Tarna gives Nynaeve the hard sell: the Tower must be whole and able to guide al’Thor, or the world faces disaster, and Nynaeve’s information may be vital, adding the bribe that an Accepted may only be raised to Aes Sedai in the Tower. Nynaeve tells her she barely knew Rand, really, and all she remembers is a boy who never listened to reason, and had to be pushed into doing anything. Tarna stares at her a moment, and then casually brings up Siuan and Leane’s presence in Salidar. She also hints at knowing something which Nynaeve thinks might be Logain. She takes her leave, telling Nynaeve to think on her offer. Nynaeve thinks that Tarna knows a lot more about Salidar than she’s been shown, and maybe Elaida did have supporters here.

Uneasiness and anger roiled about with exhilaration. She wished the Red had some way to communicate with the Tower Aes Sedai seeking Rand. Oh, to be a fly on the wall when they tried using her assessment of him.

Later, Elayne makes a deal with Nynaeve: they will go into Tel’aran’rhiod that night and use the “need walk” to try and find something to convince the rebels not to go back to Elaida. If they find something, they stay; if not, they leave. Nynaeve reluctantly agrees. That night, they enter the Dreamworld; Nynaeve is skeptical that this will work with so vague a target.

“It will have to do, Nynaeve. According to you, the Wise Ones said the stronger the need the better, and we surely need something, or the help we promised Rand is going to vanish except for whatever Elaida is willing to give. I won’t let that happen, Nynaeve. I will not.”

“Put your chin down. Neither will I, if there’s anything we can do about it.”

They close their eyes and concentrate and end up in Tar Valon, where there seems to be a lot of people having horrible nightmares that touch the Dreamworld. Uneasily, they try again, and end up in a storeroom in the Tower, filled with ter’angreal, which Nynaeve surmises must be the kind that no one has discovered how to use yet; in any case, there’s no way they could get to whatever it is that led them here. Discouraged, Elayne wonders if there’s a way to do the “need” thing and exclude a place specifically. Nynaeve thinks anything’s possible, so they decide to try focusing on a ter’angreal that’s not in Tar Valon. They concentrate, and find themselves in a strange city with many canals and white buildings; again, and they are in a slum of that same city; again, and they are in a dusty storeroom filled to the brim with what looks like junk. They try again, and end up in front of one particular chest; they try one more time for the heck of it, and have their hands on what proves to be a wide shallow crystal bowl carved with clouds.

“Nynaeve,” Elayne said slowly, “I think this is…”

Nynaeve gave a start and nearly dropped her side of the bowl as it suddenly turned a pale watery blue and the carved clouds shifted slowly. A heartbeat later, the crystal was clear again, the carved clouds still. Only she was certain the clouds were not the same as they had been.

“It is,” Elayne exclaimed. “It’s a ter’angreal. And I will bet anything it has something to do with weather. But I’m not quite strong enough to work it by myself.”

Nynaeve yells at her for channeling at an unknown ter’angreal, but Elayne points out that that is what they came for, and besides no one else knows more about ter’angreal than her, anyway. Nynaeve sniffs, and says while it would be great to do something about the weather, this is not what they were looking for. Elayne quotes Lini’s saying about what you need not always being what you want. Nynaeve sniffs again, and Elayne tells her that she also thinks this is not the only Power-related object in the room, either; there may even be sa’angreal in here. Nynaeve is incredulous, but agrees they need to find out where exactly this storeroom is in any case. Unfortunately the surrounding streets are all virtually identical, though Elayne has figured out they must be in Ebou Dar. Nynaeve thinks finding the bowl was pointless if they can’t tell anyone how to get to it, and Elayne replies that they will just have to come here and search for themselves. Nynaeve loves this idea, as it has the side effect of getting them away from Salidar “before everything falls on our heads”. They leave the Dreamworld.

“Do you think it will do any good?” Nynaeve asked quietly.

“I do not know.” Elayne stopped to muffle a yawn behind her hand. How could the woman manage to look pretty yawning, with her hair a mess and a red wrinkle from a pillow marring one cheek? That was a secret Aes Sedai ought to investigate.

Elayne quickly goes to sleep, and Nynaeve is about to follow suit when she remembers Theodrin’s orders, and gets up angrily.

All she wanted was to get away. She had said she was not very good at surrendering, but maybe she was getting good at running away. It would be so wonderful to channel whenever she wanted. She never even noticed the tears that began leaking down her cheeks.

Commentary
Man, that “need walk” thing would be AWESOME for when I lose my keys. Again.

Enter the dreaded Bowl of the Winds. (DUN!) Lord give me strength. It sounds like it would make a fabulous coffee table centerpiece, though.

Elayne: Is being exceptionally Princessy in this chapter, though I found her grousing about the novices kind of hilarious, myself. I also am far less annoyed about her “I know everything about ter’angreal, neener” attitude than I would normally be, with my comfortable foreknowledge of how that is so going to come back and bite her in the ass later. Shadenfreude: it’s what’s for breakfast!

Nynaeve: As usual is not having much fun, blockwise, but at least she gets off some good one-liners, mostly at Elayne’s expense. (“Put your chin down.” Heh.) Her thoughts on the mystery of Elayne’s unkillable prettiness is probably one of my favorite quotes from her.

Though I can’t say I care much for the way she’s swallowed Moghedien’s bait hook, line, and sinker. At least Elayne heads her off at the pass, but why hasn’t either one of them considered that bringing a Forsaken, even a captive one, within arm’s reach of Rand might not be a good thing?

Speaking of Nynaeve’s block, that first bit I quoted was not in ANY WAY foreshadowing, uh-uh, nosirreebob!

I thought for a second I was going to have to be really upset at Nynaeve’s “clever” idea to make the Tower Aes Sedai think that bullying Rand would be an effective tactic, but the quote itself points out that the Tower embassy to Rand is already on its way, and I seem to recall Elaida doesn’t get Tarna’s report on Salidar till ACOS. So, evidently Elaida had come up with the “bullying” aspect all by herself, surprise surprise. Still, Nynaeve really should have thought that move through a little more.

Tarna: This is the chapter that really got the fans going on the theory that she was Mesaana’s cover identity in the Tower, mostly based on the Forsaken icon being used for this chapter even though no Forsaken (apparently) appear in it. The FAQ section on this is, of course, not up to date for KOD, but it doesn’t appear that anything in KOD really shed any light on this particular mystery, so it is still useful.

I don’t personally believe Tarna is Mesaana; I think if Mesaana is anyone we’ve met, she’s Danelle. Tarna may be bitchy here, but post-LOC she ends up being one of the few Reds we meet with anything approaching a clue. This is hardly ironclad evidence, of course, and again I am very vague on KOD events, so take it for what it’s worth. I guess it depends on whether you think Reds bonding Asha’man as Warders is a Light-worthy notion, or the worst idea you’ve ever heard, since I seem to recall that was Tarna’s idea.

(Erg. I’m thinking I’m going to have to read KOD again before TGS. I was going to try and wait till I got there, so as to come at it fresh, but I remember so little about KOD that TGS is going to present some serious problems otherwise. Drat.)


And that’s all I got to say about that, thbbt! Enjoy your midweek, and I’ll see you Friday with Moar Stufs, lol. (Ow.)

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