The Wheel of Time Reread

The Wheel of Time Re-read: Lord of Chaos, Part 26

Haaaay, WOTrians. Have a Wheel of Time Re-read, whydontcha? You will? Ehhhxcellent.

Today’s post covers Chapter 46 of Lord of Chaos, for it is long and headdesky, and ye shall view mine wrath on’t. WHETHER YE WANT TO OR NOT, BUDDY.

Previous entries are here. This and all prior posts contain spoilers for all currently published novels 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, and Chapter 2 is available in audio format. Please refrain from posting spoilers for either the Prologue or Chapters 1-2 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 releases, linked above; please keep them there. Thanks.

And that’s all the news that’s print to fit, so let’s get to it, shall we?

Chapter 46: Beyond the Gate

What Happens
Perrin makes absentminded goodbyes to Rand, staring at the man in the corridor who he is certain is Faile’s father, judging by the “cold fury” he reeks of. Perrin introduces himself to Bashere, who answers “we will talk” and marches off, Perrin following. In Bashere’s rooms, Bashere opens by supposing that Zarine told him all about Bashere’s estates, and “the Broken Crown” before he married her; Perrin has no clue what the crown business is about, but answers (to Bashere’s astonishment) that Faile told him at first that her father was a fur trader, then a lumber merchant, then an ice pepper merchant, but she slipped up one too many times, and when Perrin found out who Bashere really was he almost didn’t marry her, except Faile had made her mind up, and he loves her. Bashere demands to know who this “Faile” person is, and Perrin explains that she took the name when she became a Hunter for the Horn; Bashere is momentarily distracted by pleased surprise over that, but then scowls again and gets back to their “supposed marriage”. Perrin, trying to remain calm, informs him that their marriage was legal in every way, but Bashere counters that by Saldaean law Zarine isn’t old enough to marry without her mother’s permission.

“She is with Deira right now, and if she doesn’t convince her mother she’s old enough to be married, she goes back to the camp, probably doing duty as her mother’s saddle. And you…” Bashere’s fingers stroked the hilt of his sword, though he did not seem aware of it. “You,” he said in an almost jolly tone, “I get to kill.”

“Faile is mine,” Perrin growled. Wine slopped over his wrist, and he looked down in surprise at the winecup, crushed in his fist. He set the twisted piece of silver on the table carefully, beside the pitcher, but he could do nothing about his voice. “Nobody can take her from me. Nobody! You take her back to your camp—or anywhere!—and I’ll come for her.”

Bashere points out mildly that he has nine thousand men with him, and Perrin snarls back that they can’t be any harder to kill than Trollocs, and if Bashere tries taking her, they’ll find out if they are. Bashere studies him and says it might be a shame to kill him, as they need some new blood in his House; the line is getting soft, Zarine being an example. This dumbfounds Perrin, especially the notion of Faile being “soft”, and Bashere continues that Zarine told him a lot about “Lord Perrin of the Two Rivers, Slayer of Trollocs”, and he approves of the Trolloc killing, but he wants to know what kind of man Perrin is. Perrin reluctantly decides to start with the truth.

“The fact of it is, I am not really a lord. I’m a blacksmith. You see, when the Trollocs came…” He trailed off because Bashere was laughing so hard the man had to wipe his eyes.

“Boy, the Creator never made the Houses. Some forget it, but go far enough back in any House, and you’ll find a commoner who showed uncommon courage or kept his head and took charge when everybody else was running around like plucked geese. Mind you, another thing some like to forget is the road down can be just as sudden.”

Bashere doesn’t care about that, he wants to know if Perrin knows how to treat a wife. Perrin replies that he treats Faile as well as he knows how, and Bashere informs him that women are like doves, to be held carefully lest you hurt them, and if he hurts Faile it’ll be the last thing he does. Then Bashere decides it’s time to go to Deira and Faile before their “discussion” moves to the killing phase, advising Perrin to remember that just because a woman believes something, it doesn’t mean the thing is true. They head to Deira’s apartments, and as they approach Perrin hears raised voices followed by two slaps, which makes him very leery of going inside, but Bashere (who can’t hear this) knocks and goes right in. Deira is much more formidable than Perrin expected after Bashere’s talk about “fragile doves”; Faile has a handprint on her cheek (as does Deira), but she smiles at him before going to greet her father affectionately, which disgruntles Perrin a bit, and Perrin hears her whisper that “it depends on him, now”, as Deira eyes him contemptuously. Before he can say anything, Deira tells him that “yellow eyes do not make a wolf”, and from what she hears he’s a complete pushover, letting Faile manipulate him. Perrin answers carefully that he disagrees, and Deira sniffs, pokes Perrin, and opines that a woman wants a man stronger than she, and she’ll never forget the “magnificent” first time Davram proved he was the stronger of them.

“If a woman is stronger than her husband, she comes to despise him. She has the choice of either tyrannizing him or else making herself less in order not to make him less. If the husband is strong enough, though . . . ” She poked him again, even harder. “ . . . she can be as strong as she is, as strong as she can grow to be. You will have to prove to Faile that you’re strong.” Another poke, harder still. “The women of my family are leopards. If you cannot train her to hunt on your command, Faile will rake you as you deserve. Are you strong enough?” This time her finger drove Perrin back a step.

Perrin growls at her to stop that, and answers that he indulges Faile because he wants to, and has no intention of trampling her; they love each other and that’s all that matters. Bashere puts in that Perrin claims he will take Faile back if they take her away, a few hundred bowmen against nine thousand Saldaean horse. This gives Deira pause, but she remains unconvinced until Bashere tells her “enough” mildly, and he thinks Perrin will do well enough; Deira bows her head meekly and acquiesces, then shoots Perrin a “See?” look. Faile manages to look submissive too, and Perrin wonders if he’s married into a family of madmen.

Rand lounges on a chair after Perrin leaves, hoping Perrin gets on well with Bashere but also thinking that if he doesn’t that might make him more amenable to Tear. Lews Therin is giggling in the background about friends and betrayal when Min comes in, having now been put on the Maidens’ short list of people who get sent in no matter what Rand’s doing. Min’s already taken advantage by barging in on him during his bath. Min gets herself some punch and plops down on his lap, as usual, and as usual Rand pretends not to notice. He asks if she enjoyed talking with Faile, and Min answers they didn’t talk long before Bashere interrupted them.

“You didn’t like her?” he said, and Min’s eyes widened, her lashes making them look even larger. Women never expected a man to see or understand anything they did not want him to.

“It isn’t that I dislike her exactly,” she said, drawing the words out. “It’s just . . . well, she wants what she wants when she wants it, and she will not take no for an answer. I pity poor Perrin, married to her. Do you know what she wanted with me? To make sure I had no designs on her precious husband.”

She continues that they’re obviously besotted with each other, and that Perrin would never look at another woman, but Min doesn’t think that will do any good; Perrin’s found his falcon, and Min wouldn’t be surprised if she kills him when the hawk shows up. Then she looks guilty, and Rand knows this is a viewing of hers, and also knows she’ll tell him about it if he asks, though she doesn’t want to. So he asks if she’s seen anything concerning himself instead, and gratefully she replies that when he and Perrin were together, she saw the fireflies and darkness vision again.

“But with the two of you in the same room, the fireflies were holding their own instead of being eaten faster than they can swarm, the way they do when you’re alone. And something else I saw when you were together. Twice he’s going to have to be there, or you . . . ” She peered into her goblet so he could not see her face. “If he’s not, something bad will happen to you.” Her voice sounded small and frightened. “Very bad.”

Rand tries to cheer her by saying he’ll just have to keep Perrin around, then, but Min answers that she doesn’t know if that’s enough; it will happen if Perrin’s not there, but it might still happen even if he is. Rand is surprised to see that she is crying, and says he didn’t know the viewings hurt her so much, but Min claims it’s just the dust, and says she has to get back to the inn. Rand entreats her to be careful lest Merana and the others find out what she’s doing, but Min laughs off his concerns, pointing out that he wouldn’t have known that the Aes Sedai were meeting with the nobles if she hadn’t been coming so often. Rand repeats that he doesn’t want her hurt.

For a moment she studied him silently, then rose up enough to kiss him lightly on the lips. At least . . . well, it was light, but this was a daily ritual when she left, and he thought maybe those kisses were getting a little less light every day.

Despite all his promises to himself, he said, “I wish you wouldn’t do that.” Letting her sit on his knee was one thing, but kisses were carrying the joke too far.

“No tears yet, farmboy,” she smiled. “No stammer.” Ruffling his hair as if he were ten, she walked to the door, but as she sometimes did, she moved in a gracefully swaying fashion that might not have produced tears and stammer but certainly did make him stare however hard he tried not to. His eyes whipped to her face as she turned around. “Why, sheepherder, your face is flushed. I thought the heat never touched you now. Never mind. I wanted to tell you, I will be careful. I’ll see you tomorrow. Be sure to put on clean stockings.”

She leaves, and Rand considers begging and stammering to see if that would stop it, but rejects the idea of being cold and distant, as he could never do that to Min, and wonders how she makes him so comfortable even while she taunts him. Lews Therin begins talking about the Aes Sedai and how he would have to do something about them if they’re plotting with the nobles, ignoring Rand’s yells at him to go away.

I am not dead! the voice howled. I deserve death, but I am alive! Alive! Alive!

You are dead! Rand shouted back in his head. You are dead, Lews Therin!

The voice dwindled, still howling Alive! when it faded from hearing.

Shaking, Rand gets more punch, thinking that the voice was getting more persistent. He knows that if the Aes Sedai are plotting with the nobles, he was going to have to do something; he just doesn’t know what.

Demira Eriff heads to the Origan Gate, hoping her informant in the Caemlyn Palace library had gotten her message to meet her there with information on books about the seals on the Dark One’s prison. She’s aware that she’s been followed by a group of Aielmen since leaving the inn, but doesn’t attach much importance to this. Her informant doesn’t show, and disappointed, she heads back, detouring into an alley to avoid the men leering at her on the street (making a mental note to stop wearing dresses from her native Arad Doman). She is met in the alley by a group of five or six Aielmen coming the other way; one of them asks her pardon, and they squeeze to either side to let her pass.

Wondering if they were the same who had followed her—one of those faces looked familiar, that of a squat fellow with villainous eyes—she nodded and murmured thanks as she started past.

The spear going into her side was such a shock she did not even cry out. Frantically she reached for saidar, but something else pierced her side, and she was down in the dust. That remembered face was thrust into hers, black eyes mocking, growling something she ignored as she tried to reach saidar, tried to . . . darkness closed in.

Sulin guides Perrin and Faile back to their rooms, Perrin drenched with sweat and feeling like he’d been beaten, Faile smiling and pleased as punch. Sulin curtsies and almost falls over every other second while grinding her teeth, and insists on showing them every last detail of their rooms, until even Faile starts staring at her; finally Perrin gives her a gold coin and kicks her out politely but firmly. Faile compliments him on his technique, and adds, now if he would only be that way with their servants. She asks him to unbutton her dress, and as he complies he asks if Faile really meant any of “that nonsense” she told her mother.

“Have you not tamed me, my husband,” she said without looking at him, “and taught me to perch on your wrist when you call? Do I not run to please you? Am I not obedient to your smallest gesture?” She smelled amused. She certainly sounded amused. The only thing was, she sounded as if she meant it, too, the same as when she told her mother practically the same thing, head high and as proud as she could be. Women were strange, that was all there was to it. And her mother . . . ! For that matter, her father!

He asks her what a broken crown is, and Faile suddenly changes the subject to tell him that Rand is gone from the palace. Perrin asks how she knows, and she confesses that Bain and Chiad taught her a little handtalk, even though she thinks they were really not supposed to, and she “overheard” the Maidens talking about it in the halls. He asks why it matters what Rand’s doing, and she replies that Perrin should remember Rand is like a king, “a king of kings”, and kings sometimes use up their friends even if they don’t mean to. They then have an argument over whether Faile is allowed to spy on Rand, which Faile derails by bringing up Deira’s demands re: grandchildren, and saying she thought maybe they could work on it if Perrin ever gets her buttons undone.

After months of marriage she still blushed, but that grin never faded. “The presence of a real bed after so many weeks makes me forward as a farmgirl at harvest.”

Sometimes he wondered about these Saldaean farmgirls she was always bringing up. Blushes or no blushes, if they were as forward as Faile when he and she were alone, no crops would ever be harvested in Saldaea. He broke off two more buttons getting her dress undone, and she did not mind a bit. She actually managed to tear his shirt.

Demira is surprised to wake up in the inn, alive, with her Warder Stevan hovering anxiously over her; she worries that this will give him the high ground in their ongoing struggle over whether he gets to treat her like a wayward daughter. Merana and Berenicia are there too, and they explain that a man came into the common room of the inn to tell them he saw Aiel following an Aes Sedai and saying they were going to kill her. The man got away before anyone thought to detain him, no doubt part of the same warning. Demira says, then they meant the Aes Sedai to know Aiel had killed her, or maybe she was meant to be found before dying.

She had just recalled what that villainous-faced fellow had growled at her. “I was told to tell you all to stay away from al’Thor. Exact words. ‘Tell the other witches to stay away from the Dragon Reborn.’ I could hardly deliver that message dead, could I?”

They argue over how to respond: Berenicia wants to find the Aiel responsible and “make an example”, but Demira points out that they were clearly under orders, and only one man in Caemlyn can order the Aiel around. Merana agrees, and Berenicia switches targets, insisting they cannot let al’Thor think he can get away with this. Demira thoughtfully observes that if they charge him openly, al’Thor will of course deny it, and they have no proof. So perhaps it would be better to say nothing, and let him stew, wondering why. Verin enters and announces that al’Thor must respect Aes Sedai or there will be no working with him; she sits, and impatiently tells Merana and Berenicia to sit too before telling Demira that as the victim of the attack, she should have a say in their response. Merana tries to interject an opinion, but Verin cuts her off; Demira holds her breath, but Merana only stares at Verin a moment before bowing her head. Demira suggests that no one go to the Palace for the next few days, either with no excuse or one he will see through, and watch Min to see when he is “nicely on the boil…”

Whatever they decided to do, she wanted to be part of it. It had been her blood, after all, and the Light only knew how long she would have to put off her researches in the library now. That last was almost as much reason to teach al’Thor a lesson as his forgetting who Aes Sedai were.

Commentary
Oh, Perrin. Did you marry into a family of nutcases, you wonder? Let me answer that for you: YES, YES YOU DID. Leopards and falcons and doves, ho crap.

I’m not even sure I’m up to addressing the insanity of Deira’s notion of relationships, except to say that you can talk about leopards and being fierce and whatever all you want, but when you assert that the man must be able to put the woman in her place (!!) for the relationship to work, then what that is, is sexist bullshit. It might be sexist bullshit turned inside out and backwards, but that doesn’t change the fact that it is sexist bullshit, and it is sexist bullshit that is just as unfair to the man as it is the woman, I might add. I would assume that when most guys get married, what they want is a wife; if they for some insane reason are hankering instead for a snarling clawing leopard to train (!!), I say they can goddamn well go and join the circus, then. Holy Christ.

I mean really. If the ideal marriage, as Deira would apparently have it, is a daily survival-of-the-fittest mad scrabble for supremacy, you can count me out. Thanks, but I’ve got enough stress in my life. Hi, equal partnerships? Sharing the load? Mutual support and respect? Not equating an entire half of the human race to a freaking feral cat? Hello? Is this thing on?

Of course, this whole thing is at least partially a “haze the new in-law” performance from both Deira and Bashere, a practice which is older than dirt and will probably never die, and for a long time I tried to convince myself that Deira was bullshitting Perrin the whole time. Unfortunately, I’m pretty sure she was perfectly serious, and now I need a hug and a cookie, because I am sad when people are stupid.

Bashere’s no better than Deira, by the way, at least when it comes to relationship advice. The fact that following this advice later works for Perrin only points out how utterly barmy Faile’s upbringing really was, if you ask me. Aaaaand I am getting off this merry go round before my head explodes.

I will say that when he’s not talking about women, Bashere gives some of the better bits of wisdom in WOT. His quote here to Perrin about how lords are made through circumstance struck me strongly at the time, and is still one of the passages I tend to recall most clearly from LOC. I’m not sure why it made such an impression, except that perhaps it was the sheer obviousness of the truth of his statement, combined with the fact that (at the time) I had never really thought of it that way before. Very much a “Huh.” moment. And one that tends to make me considerably less inclined to be critical of the semi-feudal system Randland’s got going. Not completely so, I haven’t lost my mind (YET), but a little less so.

Min: Has totally got Faile’s number, I must say. Though I don’t think she is in a position, to be fair, to give Faile credit for her good qualities. Which she does possess, you guys, but Min can be forgiven, since all she’s really seen is the jealousy, both in person and in the persona of the hawk and falcon glaring at each other in her viewing. Altogether not the kind of thing inclined to give you the most charitable view of a person. I myself am not feeling charitable enough at the moment to defend Faile, though. Maybe later.

(“Leopards.” *headdesk*)

(The Saldaean farmgirl thing was cute, though. I guess. Leopards. God.)

ANYWAY. Min’s viewing about Perrin is another one of hers that I am uncertain whether it has been fulfilled or not; obviously Dumai’s Wells counts as one time, but there are a number of semi-shaky candidates for the second time, and it’s hard to tell if any of them are the second time, or not, since Min’s viewing leaves it open-ended as to whether Perrin actually gets there in time or not. So, in conclusion, dunno. You’re welcome.

Let’s move on, to the other most annoying thing in LOC! Namely, of course, the attack on Demira.

I remember, I read this and was like NOOOOO! GodDAMMIT, you people and your stupid stupidness, with the not communicating and the mistrust and the LAAAAADDYY. Why? Why, why, WHYeeeee?

Of course, I know why. Chaos, plot movement, yadda yadda yadda Dumai’s Wells. Yes. I get it. But aaaaaah, I was screaming for them not to decide to say nothing to Rand! Why, WHY couldn’t they have at least considered the idea that it was a set-up, a ruse, a framejob? Yes, why would they, Occam’s Razor, the simplest explanation etc., but AAAAGGGHH.

This is really the point where I realized that everything in LOC was going off the rails, and Jordan must be complimented, perversely, for the sense of frantic dismay it engendered in me the reader. Lord of Chaos, indeed. At this point it’s like a freaking runaway train here. And it only get worse!

As for whodunit, the FAQ’s article on the attack is a little outdated, but I still agree with its general conclusion, that Taim is by far the most likely person to be behind the attack. Whether he did it at a Forsaken’s orders or on his own initiative is fairly irrelevant to my mind; either way, as far as means, motive, and opportunity goes, Taim is the clear front-runner. And, also, an asshole. GodDAMMIT. I really hope we get to see him get smacked down. HARD.

More tangentially, I continue to be amazed that the ranking hierarchy is so strong in Aes Sedai society that it can trump the equivalent of governmental appointments. It’s interesting (though ultimately pointless) to speculate what the Salidar embassy’s response would have been if Merana had remained in charge, and what their eventual actual response says about Verin’s intentions. Discuss!


Okay, I’ve about used up my quota of all caps exclaimage for the day, so we’re going to stop here. Please to return on Friday for Moar, yes? Yes! D’accord, je t’aime, au revoir, au revoir!

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