The Wheel of Time Reread

The Wheel of Time Re-read: Lord of Chaos, Part 18

Hello, and welcome to another fabulous Wednesday, accompanied as always by a fabulous Wheel of Time Re-read!

This one is pretty darn fabulous, actually. I am also incredibly modest.

Ahem! Today’s post covers Chapters 29-30 of Lord of Chaos, in which Neil Armstrong lands on the moon Alexander Fleming discovers penicillin Richard James invents the Slinky something Suitably Stupendous occurs. Yeeeeeah, baby.

Previous entries are here. Please note that all posts contain spoilers for all currently published novels in the Wheel of Time series, up to Knife of Dreams. So if you haven’t read, don’t read.

Edited to add: Good news, everyone! The Prologue to The Gathering Storm, “What the Storm Means”, is available for purchase from Tor.com and multiple other online retailers. The post about it is here. Go see!

As a corollary to that, please refrain from posting spoilers from the Prologue (or Chapter 1) on this post or on the Re-read in general for now; discussion about the Prologue should go in the Tor.com post announcing it. Thanks for being so great about this, guys, I mean it.

And now, dear readers, read on, for your prescribed dose of FABULOUSNESS.

Chapter 29: Fire and Spirit

What Happens
Nynaeve enters the Little Tower, feeling queasy; her weather sense is telling her there is a storm brewing even though the sky is clear. She approaches a White named Brendas and asks for Siuan and Leane, picking Brendas because Siuan trusted her in the Tower, and also because she had never tried to grill Nynaeve about Rand. Brendas tells her they are with some Sitters, and asks if Theodrin has made any progress; Nynaeve answers no, and remembers with humiliation that Theodrin’s latest tactic had been to get her drunk, to the point where she had been singing. Brendas remarks that her studies seem to be suffering; now only Elayne continues to come up with wonderful new discoveries. She says several sisters are thinking of taking over from Theodrin. Nynaeve whispers that she’s sure Theodrin will figure it out any day now, and whirls to leave, bumping into two white-haired new arrivals who turn out to be named Adeleas and Vandene. Sheriam, Morvrin, Beonin and Myrelle come into the common room, and Sheriam prevents Myrelle from going up to Nynaeve, which Nynaeve interprets to mean that if Egwene had been at the meeting with the Wise Ones, she was not to be told because she was in disgrace. Nynaeve thinks it was a mistake to start letting Elayne take all the credit from now on for Moghedien’s teachings, even if she did suggest it herself. She stalks outside, furious, and runs into Thom and Juilin, looking gaunt and careworn after their travels.

Thom Merrilin grinned down at her through his long white mustaches, sharp blue eyes twinkling in his gnarled face. “By the look of you, Nynaeve, I could almost think you were angry, but I know you have such a sweet disposition people ask you to dabble your fingers in their tea.”

Elayne appears and hurls herself at Thom, and he whirls her around, laughing, and Nynaeve sniffs, thinking they have taken this father-daughter thing entirely too far, and besides, she seems to recall Elayne asking if she wanted a bucket of water for her head the night before. Thom reports that Ailron’s forces and the Whitecloaks have virtually abandoned the Eldar, pulling back except along the Tarabon border and on the front with the Prophet; Niall seems to have no interest in Salidar at all.

“Tarabon,” Juilin muttered, studying his cap. “An ill country for anyone who doesn’t know how to take care of herself, or so we heard.”

Elayne divines that Thom is hiding something, and immediately deduces it is something about her mother. He tries to avoid telling her, dismissing it as a crazy rumor, but finally admits that the word is that Morgase is in the Fortress of the Light, and is going to lead an army of Whitecloaks to Andor. Elayne laughs at the notion, saying she could wish it were true even though it runs counter to everything her mother had taught her, if it meant Morgase was alive, but she has accepted that her mother is dead. Thom comforts her awkwardly, and Nynaeve wonders if he feels anything about Morgase’s death, considering they had been lovers. Juilin and Thom are then summoned inside to speak to the Sitters, and Elayne and Nynaeve stand there awkwardly for a moment, until Nyaneve decides that since she won’t be able to get at Siuan or Leane, she might as well try Logain. Elayne tags along, and Nynaeve suddenly notices she is not wearing the bracelet. Elayne assures her she has it in her pouch; she’s avoiding wearing it because Birgitte overheard something Moghedien said the night before, and now the Forsaken is a mass of bruises. Nynaeve’s disapproval is half-hearted, as she has been avoiding wearing the thing herself lately, with her growing disgust over the situation. Elayne apologizes for laughing at Nynaeve the night before, and Nynaeve suddenly decides to be absolutely truthful for once, and answers that she deserved it, and Elayne should have dunked her head until she was dead sober. Elayne answers that “it could happen to anyone”, which makes Nynaeve blush, remembering what she did the time Elayne got drunk.

It was quite the oddest argument Nynaeve could remember, with her insisting she had been a total fool and deserved whatever came of it, while Elayne made excuse after excuse for her. Nynaeve did not understand why it felt so refreshing, taking all the blame on herself that way. She could not recall ever doing that before, not without hedging as far as she was able. She very nearly got angry with Elayne for not agreeing that she had been a childish buffoon.

Finally Elayne tells her to quit it or she will dunk her in a bucket, and Nynaeve lets it go, still feeling euphoric. She entreats Elayne to leave, that night, to go to Ebou Dar if not Caemlyn; they are accomplishing nothing here. Elayne refuses, saying they can do no good to anyone if they’re labeled runaways, and then confesses to Nynaeve that she found out Birgitte told Uno that he was not to help Nynaeve leave Salidar without Birgitte’s say-so first. This news neatly solves the problem of Nynaeve being too happy to channel, and she stalks inside Logain’s house, Elayne following. Inside, Logain greets them mock-courteously and asks if they want wine, and Nynaeve tells him to sit down and shut up. He shrugs and obeys with an insolent smile, and Nynaeve begins delving him with the Power, and notes again that he is perfectly healthy – except for the hole.

It was not really a hole, more a feeling that what seemed continuous was not, that what seemed smooth and straight was really skirting around an absence. She knew that sensation well, from the early days, back when she thought she might really learn something. It still made her skin crawl.

Elayne asks how she can keep track of so many flows at once, but Nynaeve murmurs for her to shush, and takes Logain’s head in her hands. As she continues to examine the hole, she absently ruminates how she wants to talk to Egwene, in the hopes that Egwene will be better at convincing Elayne to leave Salidar than she.

There it was. Something cut. Just an impression, but the same as in Siuan and Leane. So how do I find her? If only she’d pop into our dreams again. I’ll bet I can talk her into joining us. The three of us would do much better with Rand. Together, we could tell him what we learn in Tel’aran’rhiod, keep him from making some wool-headed mistake with the Aes Sedai. She’ll see that. Something about that cut… if it was bridged with Fire and Spirit, so…

It was the slight widening of Logain’s eyes that told her what she had done. Breath froze in her throat. She backed away from him so fast she stumbled over her skirt.

“Nynaeve,” Elayne said, sitting up straight, “what is the mat—?”

A heartbeat, and Nynaeve had all of saidar she could hold redirected into a shield. “Go find Sheriam,” she said hurriedly. “Nobody else but Sheriam. Tell her… ” She drew a deep breath that seemed like her first in hours; her heart was speeding to beat galloping horses. “Tell her I’ve Healed Logain.”

Commentary
Now that, ladies and gentlemen, is how you end a goddamn chapter. Amen I said Amen!

Nynaeve Healing Logain still stands as one my biggest personal “Holy Crap” moments in all of WOT. As in, I was like, holy crap. I was astonished.

Which seems almost laughable in retrospect, considering the veritable minefield of hints and foreshadowing of the event Jordan littered the landscape with prior, but as I’ve mentioned before, I am blessed with the happy deficiency of hardly ever guessing plot twists before they happen, as long as they’re even remotely well set up. Sometimes ignorance really is bliss.

So, astonished. And, gleeful. A Made of Awesome Moment if there ever was one.

I remember I was so pleased for Logain, too, which is interesting considering he perpetrated (admittedly off-screen) mass mayhem and carnage before he was captured, and plus was kind of a dick even while he was gentled. And yet I was thrilled on his behalf when he got his, er, mojo back.

But I think this just shows that slow buildups can work, if the payoff is right. We’ve spent five books being told and shown how horrible (and, ultimately, fatal) it is for channelers to lose their ability to channel, and thus are in prime emotional position to appreciate just what a major event this is. Works for me.

(The key, of course, is that you get your payoff. Ahem.)

As a side note, I severely dislike the term “gentling”. It really has an unpleasant similarity to “gelding”, which was intentional, of course, but iiiieee. Even as a non-guy that makes me a little cringe-y.

The only other things worth noting in this chapter are Thom and Juilin’s appearance, which makes a grand total of about three seconds they’ve been on screen (so to speak) in LOC so far, and Nynaeve’s ecstatic fit of blame-taking, which I continue to find hilarious, and also oddly touching. She is just so clueless about herself, I swear.

Oh, and the reappearance of Adeleas and Vandene. And Brendas, who if you recall (and you probably don’t, I have no idea why I remember this, really), was one of the sisters Siuan recruited to help Heal Mat in the Tower, way back in TDR. I think right around here was where I seriously started having trouble keeping track of the Aes Sedai cast; I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one.

Oh, and the mention of Morgase, which contains enough irony to set off metal detectors. Sigh. If only you were right, Elayne. If only.
Chapter 30: To Heal Again

What Happens
Nynaeve feels something pushing against her shield from the inside, and shrieks at Elayne to go; Elayne sprints out. Logain hasn’t moved, and Nynaeve is suddenly aware of how big he is, and wraps him in flows of Air as well as the shield. He smiles at her, and tells her there is no need for her shield; he is not foolish enough to attack a townful of Aes Sedai. She tells him to be quiet, and sits down, berating herself for being so stupid.

“Don’t be afraid,” Logain said. “I won’t turn against them now. They’re succeeding in what I want, whether they know it or not. The Red Ajah is finished. In a year, there won’t be an Aes Sedai will dare admit she’s Red.”

“I said be quiet!” she snapped. “Do you think I’ll believe it’s only Reds you hate?”

“You know, I saw a man once who will cause more trouble than I ever did. Maybe it was the Dragon Reborn; I don’t know. It was when they took me through Caemlyn after I was captured. He was far away, but I saw a… a glow, and I knew he’d shake the world. Caged as I was, I couldn’t help laughing.”

Nynaeve gags him with Air, which finally angers him, and thinks that the push she had felt against her shield was not anything like a serious attempt to break it, but more like a man “stretching muscles long unused”, and tries not to panic. Logain seems to guess what she’s thinking, and she tells herself she’s not fit to be Aes Sedai after being so witless, berating herself until the door bursts open, admitting Sheriam, Romanda, Lelaine, Myrelle, Morvrin, Delana, and a bunch more, and their stares unnerve Nynaeve so much that she loses anger and saidar, and thus the shield on Logain. Nisao, a Yellow, demands to know what’s all this nonsense about Healing Logain, and Logain pretends he doesn’t know what she’s talking about; Nynaeve begs them to believe her and shield Logain again, and Sheriam shrugs and says they might as well just in case, and Romanda names off six sisters to do so. Myrelle and Sheriam then proceed to bodily haul Nynaeve out of the room into the street, passing an apologetic-looking Elayne; Nynaeve asks what they are going to do to her, and they recite a litany of possible punishments, each worse than the one before it.

Nynaeve’s knees sagged. “It was an accident! I swear! I didn’t mean to!”

Sheriam gave her a hard shake without slowing a step. “Don’t be a fool, child. You may just have done the impossible.”

“You believe me? You believe me! Why didn’t you say something when Nisao and Varilin and—Why didn’t you say something?”

“I said ‘may,’ child.” Sheriam’s voice was depressingly neutral.

Nynaeve can’t figure out if they believe her or not as they hurry her into the Little Tower, and a room filled with most of the Yellows in Salidar, all looking grim. Sheriam says disdainfully, so you claim you Healed Logain, and switches Nynaeve with Air when she does not answer fast enough. She continues that if it was by accident, she supposes Nynaeve can’t prove it by doing it again, and switches her again when Nynaeve stares at her. Myrelle is openly scornful, and then Carlinya and Beonin enter, pushing a sullen Siuan and Leane ahead of them; Beonin is incredulous that they actually tried to refuse to come. Suddenly Nynaeve understands the purpose behind all the rigmarole; to make sure she was angry enough to channel. Absolutely furious, she tugs her braid, twice, just in case anyone missed it the first time. Siuan growls that she has important work to be doing instead of this nonsense.

“Oh, shut up,” Nynaeve broke in testily. One step, and she seized Siuan’s head in both hands as if she intended to break the woman’s neck. She had believed that nonsense, even the barrel! They had manipulated her like a puppet!

Saidar filled her, and she channeled as she had with Logain, blending all of the Five Powers. She knew what she was looking for this time, that almost-not-there-at-all sense of something cut. Spirit and Fire to mend the break, and…

For a moment Siuan only stared, expressionless. Then the glow of saidar enveloped her. Gasps filled the room. Slowly Siuan leaned forward and kissed Nynaeve on either cheek. A tear leaked down her face, then another, and abruptly Siuan was weeping, hugging herself and shaking; the gleaming aura around her faded away.

Sheriam hugs her, teary-eyed, while everyone else in the room stares at Nynaeve in shock. Dagdara asks in a strangled voice what made her think of using Fire; Nynaeve answers she doesn’t know, she’s just always used everything. Several sisters reprimand her for going beyond the prescribed use of Water, Air and Spirit, but then fade off in light of what had just happened. Leane is gazing at her hopefully, and Nynaeve smiles at her, telling the others to watch carefully, and Heals Leane as well. She notes that it feels different with Siuan and Leane than it did with Logain, and worries that perhaps she should have done something differently. Leane embraces saidar with a beatific smile, and then throws her arms around Nynaeve, murmuring thank yous. Nynaeve prepares to receive accolades, but the Yellows instead immediately begin discussing her technique and ways to improve upon it; Myrelle pats her arm and tells her not to worry, they’ll be all praises later. Nynaeve hopes this means she won’t have to scrub pots anymore, but Sheriam squashes that notion quickly, and Nynaeve sighs. Nisao pipes up, saying that she supposes this means they will have to gentle Logain again. The others start to agree, until Carlinya interjects:

“Can we?” Every eye turned to her, but she went on calmly, coolly. “Ethically, can we consider supporting a man who can channel, a man trying to gather other men who can, while at the same time we go on as before, gentling those we find? Practically, what effect will it have on him when he learns? Distressing as it may be, as matters stand, he will see us as separate from the Tower, and more importantly, from Elaida and the Red Ajah. If we gentle even one man, we may lose that distinction, and with it our chance to gain a hold on him before Elaida does.”

The Aes Sedai exchange troubled looks, and several glare balefully at Nynaeve. Sheriam murmurs that she should probably go, and Nynaeve obeys with alacrity. She is met outside by Elayne, who apologizes for giving it away to everyone. Nynaeve tells her it doesn’t matter; they should still get out while they can, opining the rebels are no better than Elaida, with Carlinya’s talk of getting a “hold” on Rand. Elayne, however, says ruefully that it’s too late; word has already spread. A moment later two Yellows (Larissa and Zenare) swoop down on her, followed quickly by Salita Toranes, a Yellow Sitter; they all begin fighting over which of them can have Nynaeve first.

“…angry?” Zenare was saying. “I know fifty ways at the front of my head to make her angry enough to chew rocks.”

“I can think of a hundred,” Larissa said. “I intend to break her block if it’s the last thing I do.”

Magla Daronos shouldered her way into the group, and she had the shoulders for it. She looked as if she worked the sword, or a blacksmith’s hammer. “You will break it, Larissa? Hah! I do have several ways in mind already to draw it out of her.”

Nynaeve just wanted to scream.

Siuan fights the urge to just hold saidar, knowing she might start crying again, as all the Aes Sedai gather around to warmly welcome her back. She hugs Lelaine and Delana, her two closest old friends after Moiraine and Leane, though they had grown apart after she became Amyrlin. She’s filled with joy, and does not begrudge the Aes Sedai their distance earlier, knowing she would have insisted on that same barrier. She marvels that now it will never be necessary to treat stilled women that way again. She catches sight of Bryne heading upstairs, and excuses herself to go after him. He tries to step around her, saying he’s busy, but she plants herself in front of him and tells him she’s been Healed, and can channel again. Bryne only nods, to her amazement, and remarks that maybe now that she can use the Power his shirts will actually get clean. Astonished, she replies that she is Aes Sedai again; does he really expect an Aes Sedai to do his laundry? To demonstrate, she embraces saidar and tries to pick him up with Air – but cannot do it, to her shock. Before, she had been able to lift three times her own weight. Bryne asks dryly if this is supposed to impress him, and tells her he has no intention of letting her out of her oath, Aes Sedai or not. He tells her to let him go, or he’ll “turn [her] upside down and smack [her]”. She lets him go dazedly, and is unable to hold back tears at the shock of her discovery.

Gareth was cupping her face in his hands before she knew he had moved. “Light, woman, don’t tell me I frightened you. I didn’t think being dropped in a pit with a pack of leopards would frighten you.”

“I am not frightened,” she said stiffly. Good; she could still lie. Tears, building inside.

“We have to work out some way not to be at one another’s throat all the time,” he said quietly.

“There is no reason for us to work out anything.” They were coming. They were coming. Oh, Light, she could not let him see. “Just leave me alone, please. Please, just go.” For a wonder, he hesitated only a moment before doing as she asked.

She manages to get alone before breaking down in sobs, and knows she is crying for her dead Warder, Alric, killed in the coup.

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. Huddled against the wall, bawling, she was only glad Gareth was not seeing this. I have no time to fall in love, burn him!

Shocked by the thought, she tells herself it is impossible, and then sees Leane standing there. She asks how Leane dealt with her Anjen’s death, fifteen years ago, and Leane answers that she cried every night for months, and then gradually it got less, but that is why she never bonded another after. Now, though, she thinks she could handle three or four. Siuan asks if Leane thinks “they” are ready; Leane thinks maybe, but asks if Siuan is sure she wants to go through with this. Their Healing has changed everything, and now they are not as strong as they were before. Siuan thinks it has to be risked. She is Aes Sedai again; does that not mean she is also Amyrlin again too?

Nynaeve staggers into her and Elayne’s room and flops onto her bed, trying to decide which of the Yellows is the most horrible woman alive. Elayne takes it they made her angry enough to channel; Nynaeve answers miserably that she demonstrated for every last Yellow in Salidar, and they have her on a rotating schedule starting tomorrow, and they are competing over who is going to break her block first. Elayne comments that she’s sorry she didn’t take Nynaeve’s suggestion to leave earlier; they could have woven disguises the way Moghedien taught them, and walked right out. Nynaeve stares at her in horror, and says she never even thought of that, and Elayne chastises herself for letting that slip, since she had been hoping Nynaeve wouldn’t ever think of it. Then Siuan and Leane enter, carrying a tray with soup and bread and a little flower arrangement, and Leane says she’d heard Nynaeve might be hungry. Nynaeve eyes them suspiciously, but takes the tray.

“I heard a rumor you addressed the Hall, Siuan,” Elayne said carefully. “Should we have curtsied?”

“Do you mean are we Aes Sedai again, girl? We are. They wrangled like fishwives on Sunday, but they granted that much at least.” Siuan exchanged glances with Leane, and Siuan’s cheeks colored faintly. Elayne suspected she would never learn what had not been granted.

Leane adds that she thinks she will choose Green; Nynaeve chokes on her spoon, and asks, is that allowed? Siuan replies that normally, no, but the Hall decided that all their ties were severed when they were stilled. Tomorrow she intends to petition the Blues to allow her back, though she wouldn’t be surprised if they refused, the way things are going. Elayne asks what she means, and Siuan tells them that Logain had tried to break free when he found out they knew he’d been Healed, and if fewer sisters had been holding his shield he might have succeeded.

“So he’s as strong as he ever was, or close enough to make no difference. I’m not. Neither is Leane. I want you to try again, Nynaeve.”

“I knew it!” Nynaeve flung her spoon down on the tray. “I knew you had some reason for this! Well, I’m too tired to channel, and it wouldn’t matter if I wasn’t. You can’t Heal what has been Healed. You get out of here, and take your vile-tasting soup with you!” Less than half the vile-tasting soup remained, and it was a big bowl.

“I know it won’t work!” Siuan snapped back. “This morning I knew stilling couldn’t be Healed!”

Leane points out that they are taking a big risk, coming here together like this; Aes Sedai can be made to do penance as much as any Accepted. They want to make a fresh start. Elayne asks why they didn’t go to one of the Yellows, who must know as much about it as Nynaeve by now (Nynaeve glares indignantly), and Siuan reluctantly explains that if they go to a sister, there will be no keeping it secret.

“If Nynaeve does it, maybe anybody who managed to weigh us today will think they were mistaken. Supposedly, all sisters are equal, and there have been Amyrlins who barely managed to channel enough to earn the shawl, but Amyrlins and the heads of Ajahs aside, by custom, if another is stronger in the Power than you, you’re expected to give way to her.”

This is news to Elayne, who reflects that she had long suspected that your education in being Aes Sedai didn’t really start until after you earned the shawl. Siuan continues that everything is accounted in the ranking: how long you were a novice or Accepted, how fast you learn, etc. Leane thinks being stilled and then Healed might count against them the same way being a wilder does; if Nynaeve can get them up to even two-thirds their former strength, it would help, but as it stands, their rank would be fairly low.

“The hierarchy isn’t supposed to rule anything except everyday life, but it does. Advice from somebody with higher standing is given more weight than from somebody with lower. It did not matter while we were stilled. We had no standing at all; they weighed what we said on merit alone. It will not be that way now.”

“I see,” Elayne said faintly. No wonder people thought Aes Sedai invented the Game of Houses! They made Daes Dae’mar look simple.

Siuan tells Nynaeve that she gave her back her life, and she wants Leane’s fresh start too; she offers friendship, or at least “crewmates on the same boat”. Elayne says she likes friendship better, but Nynaeve has a question first, about what Sheriam et al learned from the Wise Ones the night before. Leane kicks Siuan, and Siuan finally tells them that Elaida’s embassy has reached Rand in Cairhien, and Rand appears to be toying with them; also, Egwene will be at the next meeting. Nynaeve wants to know who the captain on Siuan’s hypothetical boat will be, and Siuan starts to snarl that she is, until Leane clears her throat, and reluctantly amends it to “equal shares”. But she gets to steer! Nynaeve tries to push for them to get her and Elayne out of the kitchens, but that doesn’t go over well. They take their leave; Leane hugs them both, whispering “Friends” to Elayne, and Siuan hugs Nynaeve gruffly too. After they are gone, Nynaeve remarks that Siuan was about to cry, and maybe she should be nicer to her, right before she falls asleep sitting up. Elayne puts her to bed and worries over Rand dealing with Elaida’s embassy until finally falling asleep herself. The next morning Siuan and Leane return, but the second Healing make no difference.

Delana takes tea with Siuan, reflecting on the bizarreness of the situation, and thinks that the most shocking thing was realizing that she was now much stronger in the Power than Siuan. She feels sympathy for the woman who she used to get into mischief with as novice and Accepted, and promises to do what she can regarding Siuan’s plan to get Sheriam to let her come to the meetings with the Wise Ones, though Delana comments she can’t imagine why Siuan would want to go. The plan involves a ploy to get Romanda to try to confiscate the dream ter’angreal for the Hall’s use, and Siuan is sure Lelaine and Janya will go along, though she cautions Delana that the proposal must not actually pass, as Romanda would likely put the Wise Ones’ backs up all over again.

Delana kept her smile inside as she escorted Siuan to the front step and gave her a hug. Yes, it would be very important to the Hall to keep the Wise Ones pacific, though Siuan had no way of knowing that. She watched Siuan hurry down the street before going back in. It seemed she was going to be the one doing the protecting now. She hoped she made as good a job of it as her friend had.

A novice appears and tells her a woman arrived this morning named Halima Saranov, and Anaiya Sedai said she should go to Delana. Delana starts to say she’s never heard of a Halima, but stops dead when the woman herself appears, fingers arranged in the sign that indicates she is Black Ajah. She dismisses the novice and demands to know what Halima is about, daring to use that sign when she can’t even channel; Halima gives her a mocking smile and points out that Delana would obey a beggar if he gave the right signs. Halima informs Delana that her cover story is that she was companion to a sister named Cabriana Mecandes, who died from a fall, and her Warder soon after of grief. Halima continues that Cabriana told her a great deal before she died, including about the White Tower’s plans for the rebels and the Dragon Reborn. Delana is displeased, but replies that she supposes Halima wants her to get this information to the Hall, and hopes that Halima knows enough about Cabriana to pass, as Delana barely knew her. Halima smiles and replies she “could recite Cabriana’s life”. She further informs Delana that being a guest is not good enough; Delana will take her on as her secretary and/or companion, for Halima needs to make sure the rebels’ Hall is guided carefully.

“Now you listen to me! I—!”

Halima cut her off without raising her voice. “I was told to mention a name to you. A name I use, sometimes. Aran’gar.”

Delana sat down heavily. That name had been mentioned in her dreams. For the first time in years, Delana Mosalaine was afraid.

 

Commentary
Good God, this was an effin’ long chapter. Which is probably why I quoted so much of it. Hokay, I’m going to just kind of follow the bouncy ball here.

Logain: Two things on him. First there is the revelation of his Talent, which most people have assumed is the same as Siuan’s (to see ta’veren), but from the way he put it might possibly be an odd sort of Foretelling. Of course, maybe he only said it that way because he didn’t know what he was seeing – i.e., ta’veren. So, yeah. Either way it was a nice detail, and now makes me wonder what it is like for him to actually be around Rand, like he is later. I would think talking to a guy who glows all the time just might be a tad distracting.

The other thing is my profound relief, the first time through, that Logain didn’t do what I totally expected him to when Nynaeve lost her shield, which was to make a break for it. That… would not have ended well. For anyone. I know he tried later, but he couldn’t have expected that to succeed, really. The time he would have been able to do the most damage was right at that moment; that he didn’t is why I suspect he’s secretly a good guy (as well as a Good Guy). Mostly, anyway; we still don’t know exactly what this prophesied glory of his entails, after all.

Siuan and Leane: Aw. How completely cool. It all starts going pear-shaped immediately after, of course, but for that one moment it was truly awesome to see some unadultered joy in WOT. It’s really pretty rare.

AND we got two Made Of Awesome moments in a row, which is extra lovely. Have I mentioned I heart Nynaeve? I think I might have mentioned that.

The other Aes Sedai I ain’t so much in love with at the moment, but I forgive Sheriam a lot for how warmly she welcomed Siuan back. Also, surprisingly, we get a small amount of Awesome from Carlinya, of all people, who is the one with the balls to point out the hypocrisy of re-gentling Logain when they’re contemplating supporting Rand. And really, she is so freaking right.

And logic aside, I wanted to smack Nisao for even suggesting it. To give him back such a thing, and then take it away again? Holy hell. Of course, I realize I’m looking at this from a slightly hindsight-being-20/20 perspective; they don’t know that saidin will be cleansed before Logain has a chance to go nuts, after all. But still.

Siuan and Bryne: *headdesk*

I’m trying really hard to ignore the spanking thing, you guys, I really am, but it is like nails on chalkboard to me every time. Back during the original Spanking Debate Debacle, someone commented to the effect that like it or not, spanking seems to be a generally accepted form of corporeal punishment for adults in Randland, and suggested that therefore it does not carry the same intensely degrading overtones that it would otherwise. I can see where this argument is coming from intellectually, but viscerally I really don’t buy it. Mostly because I still observe that the only people we’re seeing getting spanked in WOT are women; the fact that it is as often administered by other women as men does not mitigate this lopsidedness in the slightest. In fact, if anyone can come up with an example in the text of an adult male character in WOT getting spanked – an adult, mind you! – I’d love to hear about it, because I can’t think of a single one, and I’m sorry, the whole thing just… gah.

Moving on. I can’t believe Siuan honestly thought there was a ghost of a chance the rebels would actually reinstate her as Amyrlin. Under any circumstances, really, but especially in light of what we learn in this chapter regarding Aes Sedai hierarchy. Which, sigh, I guess means I have to talk about it now.

I’ve already commented in passing (and I’m hardly the first to do so) on the inherent dumbness of basing leadership on such an arbitrary factor as strength in the Power. The problem is that when you look at it, this is not much different from how leadership is often decided in the real world. No, getting elected to high office doesn’t solely depend on your wealth (power), your connections (leverage, which equals power) and your looks (a type of wealth, ergo power), but anyone who thinks these don’t carry a serious amount of weight in how people get ahead in the world is fooling themselves. Sure, there are those who buck the trend and get there on merit (just as Siuan mentions that there have been Amrylins who can barely channel), but these are the exceptions, not the rule. Sucks, don’t it?

So yeah, it’s stupid, but not in the sense of plot stupidity, so much as art stupidity imitating life stupidity. Whee.

As far as it goes on a plot level, I get the sense that this has been a political wrinkle Jordan had brewing subliminally all along, but here, for whatever reason, is where he decided to really go with it and bring it into play. You can tell by the fact that right about here is where fans started making flowcharts to keep track of what the hell is going on with the Aes Sedai.

I kind of both love and hate this. If I may be allowed to enter the realm of video game metaphor (as all serious literary critics do), this is the part of the game you groan at because it takes sixteen hundred years to get all the stupid special items you need together and talk to the right zombie mercenary and earn enough to buy the right armor and, I dunno, breed the right giant chicken or knock over the right ATM or whatever, but you slog through all that because even while you hate it, you get a sense of achievement out of beating it all down and figuring it all out, and thus it is kind of perversely fun. And, of course, it lets you get to the really fun stuff after it.

What I’m trying, convolutedly, to say is that the whole Aes Sedai Daes Dae’mar thing is something I find simultaneously frustrating and fascinating, and thus probably should have gone into politics, except for how I can’t stand politicians. And also, have no money or connections. Uh, so, probably good call sticking with the fantasy novels, really.

I sense I have strayed from the point. But I think the point was fairly well made and/or you’re tired of me talking about it, so I’ll leave it there.

Last note! Delana: I really don’t get it. How can you be all concerned and protective of a woman of whose cause (and life, and planet) you are simultaneously plotting to destroy? Is there no cognitive dissonance there at all? Shouldn’t her head spin around or something? It’s freaking me out, maaaan.

Also, enter Halima. Dun? I dunno, I’m kind of exhausted now. I’ll have to come back to her.


And that is the end! There’s no more to send! I’ll see you again..d! Byeeee!

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