The Wheel of Time Reread

The Wheel of Time Re-read: Lord of Chaos, Part 21

Guten tag, Berlin! Es ist Das Rad der Zeit! Ich bin ein Re-reader!

Jelly doughnut? Why, thanks, don’t mind if I do.

That legend totally isn’t true, by the way. But nevertheless, we soldier on! Today’s post covers Chapters 36-37 of Lord of Chaos, in which we get all Machiavelli on your ass. Or something. The Prince? Consolidating power in a new reign? Geddit?

…You haven’t read it, have you. HAVE YOU. For shame! *points* The fact that I haven’t read it either in no way mitigates your ignominy! *points more*

Um. Anyway. Previous entries are here. This and all prior posts contain spoilers for the novel of the Wheel of Time series up to and including Knife of Dreams, so if you haven’t read, don’t read.

The Prologue of The Gathering Storm, “What the Storm Means,” is available for download here on Tor.com or at multiple online vendors. Chapter 1 is still available as well. Please refrain from posting spoilers for either the Prologue or Chapter 1 in the posts for the Re-read, in order to protect those who have not yet read them, or do not intend to before the release of the entire book. Spoiler discussion is going on at the respective posts announcing the two releases, linked above; please keep them there. Thanks.

And now, the post!

Chapter 36: The Amyrlin is Raised

What Happens
Egwene is wakened by Chesa, her maid, in the room Anaiya had prepared for her, whose taste runs unfortunately toward lace and ruffles. Egwene reflects on the discussion last night, in which most of her own information and questions had been ignored; they had told her an embassy under Merana was on its way to Rand, and other embassies had been sent to every sitting ruler, and that since the Whitecloaks were mysteriously quiescent they were fine to stay in Salidar while Bryne built up their army. They had mentioned almost in passing that Nynaeve had Healed Logain as well as Siuan and Leane, and Egwene was not to worry over any of it. After they left, Romanda had barged in with a list of “suggestions”, and she was followed by Lelaine with her own list. None of their advice was much like Sheriam’s, but all three had hinted of dire consequences unless Egwene let herself be guided by each, and should not listen to either of the others. Chesa, who has immediately fallen into the manner of a old familiar retainer, tells Egwene mock-severely that she should not lie abed. Chesa helps her dress, and lets Egwene know obliquely that she won’t breathe a word of Egwene’s bruises to anyone. Egwene smiles, thinking that Sheriam might have chosen Chesa, but she was clearly loyal to Egwene. When she comes down into the room where she had been raised the night before, the Sitters are all waiting for her, along with Sheriam; Egwene is to give a speech, and does not understand why she does not feel nervous. Outside, Romanda announces to the large crowd gathered around the building that they have an Amyrlin Seat, and introduces Egwene, who is lifted up on a platform of Air above the crowd’s heads. A huge cheer greets her, and Egwene begins her speech, which she had made her own adjustments to from the ridiculously lengthy version she had been given.

“We are gathered together in a quest for truth and justice that will not end until the false Amyrlin Elaida is removed from the place she usurped.” The only change in that was “will not” for “cannot,” but she thought it stronger and better. “As Amyrlin, I will lead you in that quest, and I will not falter, as I know you will not.” And that was quite enough exhortation; in any case, she had no intention of remaining up here long enough to repeat everything they wanted said. It all amounted to what she already had said anyway. “As my Keeper of the Chronicles, I name Sheriam Bayanar.”

Sheriam is caught off guard, having expected a much longer interval before her introduction, and gives Egwene an annoyed look as she comes out. Egwene continues her speech, announcing that all Accepted and novices are absolved of penances in honor of the day, which is customary, and decrees that Theodrin Dabei, Faolain Orande, Nynaeve al’Meara and Elayne Trakand are hereby raised to full Aes Sedai, which is definitely not customary. She finishes the speech by declaring the day one of feasting and celebration; the crowd cheers tumultuously, and Sheriam all but hustles her inside the moment she gets down from the platform. In her study, Egwene brightly apologizes for editing the speech, but that she felt “such a mudgin standing up there”, and she got the gist of it in, after all. Sheriam replies slowly, yes, but there will be questions about the other changes; Theodrin, Faolain, and Elayne are one thing, but Nynaeve still can’t channel a hair unless she “yanks her braid at someone first”. Romanda and Lelaine enter without knocking, and Romanda says that was exactly the point she was going to raise, only adding “Mother” belatedly.

“It seemed necessary,” Egwene said, widening her eyes. “I thought of it last night. I’ve been raised Aes Sedai without being tested or taking the Three Oaths, and if I was the only one, it would just point me out. With four others, I won’t seem quite so odd anymore. Not to people here, at least. Elaida might try to make something of it when she hears, but most folk know so little about Aes Sedai, they won’t know what to believe anyway. It is the people here who matter most. They must have confidence in me.”

Romanda nearly splutters, but they are all stymied; Egwene had announced it publicly, and they could not very well go against her on her first day. Romanda and Lelaine are reduced to hoping ominously that Egwene will consult with the Hall next time, and Egwene assures them earnestly that she will do so before asking them to go, saying she really needs to speak with her Keeper. Lelaine and Romanda have no recourse but to obey, and once they are gone Sheriam comments with surprise that she handled that very well, but that she must confide in Sheriam and the other five so that they may help her. Egwene promises, and says she’d like to see Elayne and Nynaeve now. Sheriam leaves to get them, adding that Siuan will be coming to give her lessons on etiquette for the Amrylin Seat. Soon after, Nynaeve and Elayne enter, still in Accepted dresses, and both curtsy deeply, calling her “Mother”.

“Please don’t do that,” Egwene said. Actually, it was more of a wail. “You’re the only two friends I have, and if you start…” Light, she was almost ready to cry!

Elayne reached her first by a hair, throwing her arms around her. Nynaeve was silent, fiddling nervously with a slim silver bracelet, but not Elayne. “We’re still your friends, Egwene, but you are the Amyrlin Seat. Light, remember I told you one day you’d be the Amyrlin when I was… ” Elayne grimaced faintly. “Well, in any case, you are. We can’t just walk up to the Amyrlin and say, ‘Egwene, does this dress make me look fat?’ It would not be proper.”

Egwene shoots back that they should tell her such things – in private, anyway; she needs people who see Egwene, and not “this bloody stole”. She pulls up the chair, noting with a smile that Chesa had put cushions on it, and asks them to tell her everything that’s been going on. Elayne and Nynaeve exchange glances, and only seem willing to talk about Nynaeve’s Healing stilling and Elayne’s work with ter’angreal; Egwene’s tale of life among the Aiel seems to amaze them, and they agree that Rand is in over his head and needs guidance. Elayne says halfheartedly that Min is with the embassy to Caemlyn, and may be able to help.

“Min is a better woman than I am.” For some reason, that got a sympathetic look from Nynaeve. “I wish I were there,” Elayne went on in a stronger voice. “To guide him, I mean.” She looked from Egwene to Nynaeve, red touching her cheeks. “Well, that, too.” Nynaeve and Egwene began laughing so hard they nearly fell out of their chairs, and Elayne joined in almost immediately.

Egwene then sobers, and tells Elayne she is sorry to hear about Morgase, but adds that she has good news: Rand intends to give her both the Lion Throne and the Sun Throne. Elayne, far from being pleased, replies icily that Rand has no right to give her what is already hers; Egwene protests that he loves Elayne, and is sure he didn’t mean it that way, but Elayne only replies that it’s not that simple. Egwene says now that they are Aes Sedai, they can go to Rand anytime they want, but Nynaeve answers that the Hall isn’t letting anyone just pick up and leave, and besides they think they have found something more important. They explain to her about the bowl ter’angreal in Ebou Dar, and say Egwene just needs to send them there and maybe they can fix the weather. Egwene tells them she will see what she can do; Elayne doesn’t understand why there would be any problem.

Grimacing, Egwene shifted on the cushions. “I’m the Amyrlin, but… Elayne, Sheriam doesn’t have to think very hard to recall a novice named Egwene, staring goggle-eyed at everything and being sent to rake the New Garden walks for eating apples after bedtime. She means to lead me by the hand, or maybe push me by the scruff of my neck. Romanda and Lelaine both wanted to be Amyrlin, and they see that novice too. They intend to show me where to put my feet as much as Sheriam does.”

Nynaeve is worried, and Elayne indignant; Egwene continues that she thinks that’s why they made her Amrylin in the first place, so she will do what they want. She says she means to be Amrylin in truth, but she must move carefully, especially at first. Once more rulers and nobles have heard she’s been raised she can be more assertive, but until then it would be far too easy to disappear her and pretend it never happened if she proves troublesome. Elayne asks what she intends to do, and Egwene smiles at her confidence and tells them the fact that they are “trying to fit [her] for three different leashes” will help; she can pull on one to push on another.

“I would like to say I raised you because you deserved it, but the truth is, I did it because you’re my friends, and because I hope as full sisters you can help me. I certainly don’t know who else I can trust except you two. I will send you to Ebou Dar as soon as I can, but before and after, you are who I can discuss things with. I know you will tell me the truth. That trip to Ebou Dar may not take as long as you might think. You two have made all sorts of discoveries, so I hear, but if I can puzzle a few things out, I may have one of my own.”

“That will be wonderful,” Elayne said, but she sounded almost absentminded.

Commentary
Ha ha, awesome. Even now, I get an unholy amount of glee out of Egwene’s wide-eyed playing of Sheriam and the others. This is where I truly started rooting for Egwene.

Political intrigue in fiction is a funny thing; I’ve often found it walks something of a tightrope between being utterly fascinating and abjectly boring. It’s all in the execution, I think. More specifically, I think it’s about maintaining a fine balance between throwing up enough obstacles to keep the protagonists realistically challenged, while simultaneously providing enough triumphs to keep the reader cheerfully sure that it will all come out right in the end. This is, like so many things, harder to do than it sounds.

As far as this bit goes, I remember I was all but bouncing in my chair in anticipation of Egwene and Co. adroitly outwitting the rest of the rebels. This is where LOC really got into gear as far as I was concerned.

I also remember I was rather overjoyed at this long-overdue reunion of the Supergirls. And like the lordening of the Superboys, I was intrigued by Egwene’s elevation, and Elayne and Nynaeve’s immediate acceptance of it. I’m always fascinated by the effects that power (either the gain or loss of it) has on personal relationships between characters, mostly because I think it’s one of the quickest ways to show a character’s true, uh, character. I think, therefore, that this chapter reflects remarkably well on all three of the Supergirls, especially Egwene. It’s a mark of Egwene’s maturity by this point that she recognizes her concerns about keeping Rand’s head unswelled apply just as much to her as they do to him.

Chesa: The idea that Chesa is a Darkfriend was a pet theory held for a long time by a bunch of people. I’m not a hundred percent sure the idea has been conclusively disproved, but I have to say I never bought it in the first place. Sometimes a dippy maid is just a dippy maid.
Chapter 37: When Battle Begins

What Happens
In a rush, Nynaeve confesses to Egwene that she captured Moghedien and is holding her with an a’dam; besides themselves, only Siuan, Leane, and Birgitte know. Elayne quickly adds that they know they should have turned her in, but the Aes Sedai would have executed her immediately, and there is so much she knows; she is where all their “discoveries” came from, except Nynaeve’s Healing stilling and Elayne’s work with ter’angreal. Egwene is almost dazed with the news, and tells them to bring her here, and Nynaeve dashes out. Egwene’s inadvertent remark about keeping secrets makes Elayne flush, and Egwene realizes she’s thinking about Birgitte and the secret Egwene is not supposed to know; then she realizes Nynaeve had mentioned Birgitte knew about Moghedien, and is slightly indignant that Nynaeve apparently knows what Elayne won’t tell Egwene, but tries to reassure Elayne that she won’t ask about “anybody I’m not supposed to know about”. Elayne jumps, and says maybe she can say something about it tomorrow; Egwene decides to drop it, and moves on. She and Elayne discuss the Wise Ones and their different ways of handling training in the Power, and Egwene says she intends to let anyone who wants to become a novice if they can learn, no matter how old they are; she thinks the strictures are too harsh as they are.

“But the tests are to make sure you’re strong enough,” Elayne protested. “Not just in the One Power; in yourself. Surely you don’t want Aes Sedai who will break the first time they come under pressure? Or Aes Sedai who can barely channel?”

Egwene sniffed. Sorilea would have been put out of the Tower without ever being tested for Accepted. “Maybe they can’t be Aes Sedai, but that doesn’t mean they are useless. After all, they’re already trusted to use the Power with at least some discretion, or they wouldn’t be sent off into the world. My dream is for every woman who can channel to be connected to the Tower somehow. Every last one.”

Elayne winces, knowing this includes the Windfinders, and Egwene tells her she betrayed no one; it’s a miracle they kept their secret as long as they did. Elayne nods, but insists that if the Aiel Wise Ones get dispensation to teach their own channelers, then the Sea Folk should too. Egwene agrees. Elayne asks if this is about Rand and his amnesty, and Egwene says, in part. Neither of them can believe he would do such a thing. Then the door opens and “Marigan” enters with wine on a tray, followed by Nynaeve, who has managed to find time to change out of her Accepted’s dress. She introduces “Marigan” to Egwene, and shows her Moghedien’s true appearance, explaining about inverting and disguising weaves; Egwene thinks that the Forsaken looks proud to be wearing her real face again, and tells Nynaeve to put her disguise back, which she does before giving the a’dam bracelet to Egwene. Egwene tries not to let the memories the thing calls up affect her, and puts it on.

Egwene thought of who it was she was looking at; one of the Forsaken, a woman whose name had been used to frighten children for centuries, a woman whose crimes deserved death a hundred times over. She thought of the knowledge in that head. She made herself smile. It was not a pretty smile; she did not mean it to be, but she did not think she could have made it one if she tried. “They’re right. I have been living with the Aiel. So if you expect me to be as gentle as Nynaeve and Elayne, put it out of your mind. Set just one foot wrong with me, and I’ll make you beg for death. Only, I won’t kill you. I will just find some way to make that face permanent. On the other hand, if you do more than put a foot wrong… ” She widened her smile, until it was just showing teeth.

Moghedien starts to tremble, while Elayne and Nynaeve stare at Egwene, who wonders irritably how they expected her to treat a Forsaken. She closes on Moghedien, making her cower back, and tells her the day she catches Moghedien in a lie is the day she executes her herself.

“Now. I have considered traveling from one place to another by boring a hole, so to speak, from here to there. A hole through the Pattern, so there’s no distance between one end and the other. How well will that work?”

Moghedien answers, not at all; that is how a man Travels, and a woman trying it would be sucked into “space between the threads of the Pattern, maybe”, and never return. Nynaeve and Elayne are furious at themselves for not thinking of Traveling, and Egwene asks, then how? Moghedien replies that you make the two places in the Pattern identical; Egwene replies, “Like this?” and weaves a gateway to the Aiel Waste; she is rather surprised that it works, but doesn’t show it. Elayne is amazed, and says she thinks she could do it if she sees the weaves again.

“Remember what?” Nynaeve practically wailed. “How did she do it? Oh, curse this cursed block! Elayne, kick my ankle. Please?”

Moghedien licks her lips and asks who taught Egwene that; Egwene smiles mysteriously and answers that Moghedien should never be sure she doesn’t already know the answer to a question. Then she laughs and apologizes to Elayne and Nynaeve about just taking over like this, but they are both thrilled to have Moghedien off their hands, and Nynaeve comments they couldn’t take her to Ebou Dar anyway. Through the a’dam, Egwene feels a shock go through Moghedien as Nynaeve spoke, but is not sure what triggered it. Then Siuan enters, calmly taking in the situation, and asks if she should return later; Egwene kicks Moghedien out with a warning, and tells Siuan she knows everything.

Siuan tilted her head. “Sometimes knowing gives no advantage whatsoever. Sometimes it only means sharing the danger.”

“Siuan!” Elayne said, half-shocked and half-warning, and to Egwene’s surprise Siuan did something she had never expected to see Siuan Sanche do. She blushed.

“You can’t expect me to become somebody else overnight,” the woman muttered grumpily.

Egwene gently dismisses Elayne and Nynaeve, and once she and Siuan are alone, regards her silently for a long moment before telling her she needs Siuan to teach her what it is to be Amrylin, and she will have her help with no strings attached.

“Sheriam and Romanda and Lelaine may think I still wear novice white under this stole—maybe they all do—but you are going to help me show them differently. I’m not asking you, Siuan. I—will—have—your—help.” All there was to do then was wait.

Siuan regarded her, then gave a slight shake of her head and laughed softly. “They made a very bad mistake, didn’t they? Of course, I made it first. The plump little grunter for the table turns out to be a live silverpike as long as your leg.” Spreading her skirts wide, she made a deep curtsy, inclining her head. “Mother, please allow me to serve, and advise.”

Egwene answers, as long as it is only advice; Siuan remarks that she never really liked Egwene, and thinks maybe it’s because she saw so much of herself in Egwene. Egwene replies dryly, in that case she can call her Egwene in private. Siuan sits down, and they start to plan.

Romanda and Lelaine have private meetings with their factions, and each wonder where Delana is.

Delana stares at Halima in her room, and protests that she cannot continue supporting every faction without getting caught, but this does not concern Halima, who instructs Delana that she must continue campaigning to have Logain either re-gentled or killed, since Halima cannot get to him to do it herself. Delana doesn’t understand why Halima is so afraid of a man shielded night and day, but she is afraid of Halima, and meekly agrees.

Siuan meets with Lelaine, and complains about having to teach Egwene. She slips in the remark that Egwene had said something about Romanda wanting to stay here instead of marching for Tar Valon.

Nynaeve meets with Romanda, with the excuse that she wants to work on her block, and is almost distracted from her task by her indignation at Romanda making her jump on one foot. But she manages to mention the Amrylin having said something about Lelaine wanting to stay in Salidar.

Elayne meets with Sheriam to give her a new dream ter’angreal, and tells Sheriam she thinks that Lelaine and Romanda have been at Egwene about not moving yet because of the danger. Sheriam replies slowly that she agrees with that actually, and Elayne says yes, but now Egwene is worried that agreeing with them makes it look like she can’t say no to them. She begs Sheriam to help, and Sheriam finally answers she will do what she can.

Egwene enjoys her bath, and thinks about the day.

She had taken her first step as Amyrlin, marshaled her outnumbered army and begun her attack. She remembered hearing Rhuarc say once that when battle began, a battle leader no longer had any real control of events. Now all she could do was wait. “Even so,” she said softly, “I think the Wise Ones would be proud.”

Commentary
This is a great chapter, one of my favorites in LOC.

Not only do we have Egwene showing to Moghedien (and Elayne and Nynaeve) the leet I’m The Boss Of You skillz she’s learned from the Wise Ones, but we also finally get some real teamwork going. After so much time spent watching people run around at cross purposes with each other, knowingly or otherwise, to see competent folks actually formulating and executing a coherent plan of action is a lovely breath of fresh air. Of course, we’re hardly finished with people running around at cross purposes with each other, by a long shot, but it’s nice to get some leavening of the frustration in there.

Also, political shenanigans yay; it’s early enough in the process that this was where all the Aes Sedai politicking was fascinating, as opposed to annoying, which it kind of gets to be at various points later. Plus it’s always fun to root for the underdog.

Nynaeve: Heh. Her begging Elayne to kick her so she could see the flows made me snort out loud.

Siuan: Is still awesome, and again shows how she is a consummate politician in her ability to work well with people she doesn’t like. Her confrontation/détente with Egwene in this chapter was really well done in terms of being true to their respective characters, I think.

Delana: Once again, as with Isendre, I am put in the position of kind of feeling sorry for a Darkfriend. But then, Delana’s kind of odd for a villain, in that we never (to my recollection) see her doing anything particularly evil, or even learn of evil things she did in the past; the FAQ describes her as “something of a wet hen for a Black Ajah”, which I think is quite apt. Except for one passing remark about regretting the necessity of killing Aes Sedai (which is in itself wishy-washy!), the only thing we see Delana do is be intimidated by Halima. And vote for things. Ooh, scary.

Moghedien: Her start at Nynaeve’s mention of Ebou Dar slightly confuses me, since she’s been effectively out of commission since the end of TFOH, and in any case I don’t see how she could have found out about the *greal stash in Ebou Dar even if she had been loose… right? She does end up in Ebou Dar, but that’s on Moridin’s orders after being mindtrapped, so, eh? There’s something I’m missing here.


All right, I’ve had about enough of your lip. We out! See youse Friday!

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