Hey there, hi there, ho there, and welcome to another Wheel of Time Re-read post-type thingy!
Today’s entry covers Chapters 30 and 31 of A Crown of Swords, in which Chicks Totally Rule. Whoo! Yeah! Whoo! Yeah!
Previous re-read entries are here. The Wheel of Time Master Index is here, in which you can find links to news, reviews, and all manner of information regarding the newest release, The Gathering Storm, and for WOT-related stuff in general.
This re-read post contains spoilers for all currently published Wheel of Time novels, up to and including Book 12, The Gathering Storm. If you haven’t read, read at your own risk.
Scheduling note: Next week may be wacky, as I am finally at long goddamn LAST moving into my brand-shiny-new Apartment. And can I just say, you have NO IDEA how thrilled I am that this is going to be over soon. Unless you live or have lived in New York City, in which case you probably know exactly how thrilled I am that this is going to be over soon, because HOLY HELL.
So that is all wonderful and cool, but it may introduce posting issues, as I don’t know how long it will take to get Internetty things up and running and, you know, just generally get my ducks in a row. Or even find my ducks, or unpack them. I’m just saying, there may be a shortfall of properly-aligned duckage for a bit.
So I’m going to try to get Friday’s post up as usual, but just be aware. HOWEVER, there is good news to follow: once I do have my waterfowl in a suitable parade formation, I intend to return to my previous schedule of two posts a week. You are allowed to show your pleasure.
Just don’t make me break out the hose, jeez.
And, that is how all that is, and it is generally awesome. And if you’ll click on through you can be treated to even MORE awesome. Because that is how we roll.
Before we start, I want to take a moment to give mad props and thanks to my commenters in the previous entry, for conducting (to my great relief) what is one of the more reasoned, tactful, and non-flammable discussions of the Mat/Tylin thing I’ve personally come across in WOT fandom.
And then staging Cage Deathmatches, of course. As is only right and proper. Y’all’re so adorable.
Chapter 30: The First Cup
Elayne stands before Merilille, Adeleas, Vandene, Careane, and Sareitha in the Palace, and protests that she doesn’t understand why they are so upset, when she and Nynaeve have found the Bowl of the Winds. To herself, she thinks they as good as have done so, anyway, judging from Nalesean’s admittedly rather confused report of what Mat had shouted at him earlier. A visibly angry Merilille answers that she has endangered a secret kept for over two thousand years; Elayne demands to know what secret, but Vandene tells her there will time enough for that “when [she’s] been properly raised”. Careane suggests that perhaps Elayne should not be faulted for revealing a secret she knew nothing about, but Sareitha quickly counters that Tower law does not allow for excuses, and Elayne notices that the women are arranged as they would be for a formal trial. Sareitha suggests that “the child”, and Nynaeve as well, be confined in the palace until they leave, along with “regular doses of the slipper”.
Elayne swallowed. Confined? Perhaps they did not need to name this a trial for it to be one. Sareitha might not yet have achieved the ageless face, but the weight of the other women’s years pressed at Elayne. [ ] Not one of them approached her own strength in the Power, but . . . All that experience as Aes Sedai, all that knowledge. All that . . . authority. A heavy reminder that she was only eighteen and had been in novice white a year ago.
Elayne tries once more to defend herself, but Merilille cuts her off, and proposes they pass sentence. The others consent, and Merilille is about to speak when they are interrupted by Merilille’s maid, Pol, who is very nervous about interrupting Aes Sedai but has a note for Elayne brought by the Queen herself, who said it was about “the child’s” mother. Furious that even the servants are calling her that now, Elayne snatches the letter without waiting for permission and opens it. It is from Jaichim Carridin, who tells her he has “joyous news”, that Morgase is alive and the guest of Pedron Niall in Amador, and offers Elayne an escort through Altara to be reunited with her mother.
The paper crumpled in her fist. How dare he? The pain of her mother’s death, without even a body to be buried, was only beginning to fade, and Carridin dared mock her this way?
Elayne flings the paper in the air and channels Fire to burn it to ashes. Merilille leaps up and shouts that Elayne was not given permission to channel, and Elayne interrupts her to tell Pol to leave, now. Pol obeys, surprised that she is doing so.
“What has gotten into you, child?” Pure fury submerged the remnants of Merilille’s regathered calm. “Release the Source immediately, or I vow, I’ll fetch a slipper myself this minute!”
“I am Aes Sedai.” The words came out like winter stone, and Elayne meant them to. Carridin’s lies and these women. Merilille threatened to slipper her? They would acknowledge her rightful place as a sister. She and Nynaeve had found the Bowl! As good as, anyway, and the arrangements for its use were under way. “You propose to punish me for endangering a secret apparently known only to sisters, but no one bothered to tell me this secret when I attained the shawl. You suggest punishing me like a novice or Accepted, but I am Aes Sedai. I was raised to the shawl by Egwene al’Vere, the Amyrlin you claim to serve. If you deny that Nynaeve and I are Aes Sedai, then you deny the Amyrlin Seat who sent me to find the Bowl of the Winds, which we have done. I will not have it! I call you to account, Merilille Ceandevin. Submit to the will of the Amyrlin Seat, or I will call judgment on you as a rebellious traitor!”
Merilille is speechless, and Careane and Sareitha look about to choke to death, but Vandene and Adeleas look at Elayne as if seeing her for the first time. Elayne channels to float a chair over to herself, sits, and tells Merilille she might as well sit too; she is startled when Merilille actually obeys. Still inwardly enraged, Elayne coolly informs Merilille that her authority comes from the Hall, but Elayne’s and Nynaeve’s come from the Amyrlin, and therefore supercedes Merilille’s. Merilille starts to splutter a protest.
“Merilille!” Elayne said sharply, leaning forward. “Do you still deny the authority of your Amyrlin? Do you still dare?” Merilille’s mouth worked soundlessly. She wet her lips. She shook her head jerkily. Elayne felt a thrill of exultation; all that about Merilille taking direction was stuff and nonsense, of course, but she would be acknowledged. Thom and her mother both said you must begin by asking for ten to get one.
She reminds herself not to push it too far, and instructs Vandene and Adeleas to fill her in on this secret they say she endangered; do they mean to say the Tower has known about these “Kin” all along? Adeleas explains that there have always been women put out of the Tower for failing tests or various other reasons, and a number of them gathered in what would eventually become Ebou Dar, taking in wilders and others put out of the Tower. Elayne is confused, because Reanne et al had seemed very concerned about making Elayne and Nynaeve prove they weren’t wilders, but Adeleas continues that none of the women stayed long, and it is supposed that after a while they gave up the Power and went off to do something else. Elayne thinks that she doesn’t know why the Aes Sedai assume the Power is that easy to give up. Vandene goes on that the Tower has always known about the Kin, who have always behaved exactly as the Tower would wish them to, never drawing attention to themselves. Elayne briefly interrupts to ask Careane to bring Adeleas and Vandene some tea; Careane looks startled, but obeys, and Elayne asks why they haven’t been scattered long ago. Adeleas answers, because of the runaways, and then begins to ramble.
“Runaways,” Elayne prompted, taking a cup from Careane with a smile of thanks. She had not asked one for herself, but she realized absently that the woman had offered her the first.
Adeleas explains that the Kin help runaways from the Tower, and no runaway has made it off the island without their help since the Trolloc Wars. This way, the Tower knows nine out of ten times exactly where a runaway has gone; before the Kin, they lost two out of three. Elayne understands, then, why the Tower has guarded the secret of the Kin so jealously, as it preserves its own reputation for infallibility. She stands, and to her surprise so do all the others, even Merilille.
Vandene noticed her surprise, and smiled. “Another thing you might not know. We are a contentious lot in many ways, we Aes Sedai, each jealous of her place and prerogatives, but when someone is placed above us or stands above us, we tend to follow her fairly meekly for the most part. However we might grumble about her decisions in private.”
“Why, so we do,” Adeleas murmured happily, as if she had just discovered something.
Merilille took a deep breath, absorbing herself for a moment in straightening her skirts. “Vandene is right,” she said. “You stand above us in yourself, and I must admit, you apparently have been placed above us. If our behavior calls for penance . . . Well, you will tell us if it does. Where are we to follow you? If I may ask?” There was no sarcasm in any of that; if anything, her tone was more polite than Elayne had heard out of her before.
Astonished, Elayne suppresses an urge to protest that she is too young and inexperienced, and reminds herself that Egwene is the same age as she. She smiles and tells the others that the first thing to remember is that they are all sisters, and must work together, and starts telling them her own information about the Kin. She thinks Nynaeve is going to die from shock when she finds out about this.
Moghedien is being carried through the streets of Ebou Dar when she spots “the woman” alighting from a carriage.
A wide feathered mask covered her face more completely than Moghedien’s did, but she would have known that determined stride, known that woman, from any angle in any light.
Moghedien yells for the chair bearers to stop, and watches as Nynaeve boards a boat. She is frightened of Moridin’s reprisal should he discover her deviation from his orders, but decides to risk just a short delay. She leaps out of her chair and rushes to an inn, flinging people out of her way with the Power, and Compels the innkeeper inside to show her to the roof, fuming about the rich red and black silk dress she wore, knowing it to be servant’s livery, however elegant. On the roof, she debates killing the innkeeper but decides to Compel her to go to sleep instead, deciding it is less risky to leave her maybe slightly brain-damaged, but alive. The innkeeper hurries off to obey.
As the door thumped down flat into the dusty white-tiled roof, Moghedien gasped at the sudden feel of fingers stroking her mind, palping her soul. Moridin did that sometimes; a reminder, he said, as if she needed any more. She almost looked around for him; her skin pebbled as though at a sudden icy breeze. The touch vanished, and she shivered again. Coming or going, it did remind her. Moridin himself could appear anywhere at any time. Haste.
She finds the boat on the water, but just as she channels balefire, she is startled by pigeons taking flight, which throws off her aim; instead of punching through the passenger cabin, the balefire had destroyed the rowers at the front of the vessel. She snarls, but sees that because of the effects of balefire, the boat sinks almost instantaneously. Moghedien suddenly realizes with terror that she has channeled enormous amounts of saidar in broad daylight, and races back down to her chair, commanding her bearers to run. They obey, and she shakes with fear.
He had not forbidden this. He might forgive, or even ignore her independent action here, if she carried out his instructions swiftly, efficiently. That was her only hope. She was going to make Falion and Ispan crawl!
Seriously, I think I clapped, the first time I read this scene with Elayne. I put down the book, and clapped, and picked it up again. And ignored the funny looks from the guy at the next table, because OH SNAP, GIRLFRIEND.
(I really should stop reading books that may contain Crowning Moments of Awesome in coffee shops.)
(Warning: do not click that link. Seriously, we may never see you again.)
Of course, as CMoAs go, even just within the Wheel of Time this one is not even close to being the most awesome, but I must say it holds a special place in my heart, even more so than some of the empirically more awesome Moments of Awesome in the series. I think this is mainly due to three factors.
First, to date this is really the only CMoA Elayne has had, all by herself. I’ve always felt she’s been a tad shortchanged in this area compared to the rest of our Super Six, and thus I kind of feel obligated to give this one extra-special appreciation.
Secondly, Elayne’s turning point here was even more of a great payoff than it otherwise might have been, simply because it’s where we finally come out of quite a stretch of crappy happenings in the plot, where many of Our Heroes have been subjected to humiliation after humiliation, and so the turnaround is made even more dramatically gratifying by comparison.
(This is what people who point out all the crappy shit that happens in ACOS when I say it’s my favorite in the series aren’t getting, I think. The thing is, I never said crappy shit doesn’t happen in ACOS; I’m saying the payoff of Awesomeness we get as a result makes it all worth it. Which is not something I can honestly say about every novel in the series. More on this later.)
Anyway. And lastly, I think I just appreciated this moment because it’s one of the few Moments of Awesome in WOT that is accomplished not by giant displays of Phenomenal Cosmic Power or Rampant Badassery, but by doing something that anyone could reasonably picture themselves doing. Which is, to finally reach your social event horizon of Bullshit Up With Which You Will No Longer Put.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for giant displays of Phenomenal Cosmic Power and/or Rampant Badassery (this is an epic fantasy I’m recapping here), but I find Elayne’s facedown of Merilille in some ways even more satisfying. Because we have all, without exception, dreamed of having the balls to finally stand up to your oppressor/bully/personal nemesisisis/pointy-haired boss/whatever and just be all Sit the goddamn hell down and shut the goddamn hell up, you no-talent assclown and have it actually work. Instead of, you know, just getting you fired or sued. Or arrested.
Real life sucks, sometimes.
But in fiction, contrariwise, you should never underestimate the power of getting really, really, royally pissed. The “royally” part, of course, being rather literal in Elayne’s case. And it is beautiful to behold. So beautiful that I’m not even particularly interested in revisiting the silliness of letting an eighteen-year-old boss you around just because she has the biggest muscles, because the Rule of Cool always trumps Fridge Logic.
(Seriously, TV Tropes is like the indelible ink of pop culture criticism; once it seeps into your vocabulary, it is practically impossible to get back out again. I still can’t decide whether to thank the person who first directed me to that site, or smack them. Hard.)
So, in conclusion, yay Elayne awesome.
Random note here, in that most of the time Jordan doesn’t tend to be terribly overt in altering his writing style to indicate a character’s “voice”, but Elayne is something of an exception. Because Elayne is rather dramatic, you see, and she really likes to emphasize her words, with italics. This is something I can see some people finding rather annoying, but as I have something of an itchy < i > finger myself (shaddup), I’m going to err on the side of not throwing stones in my little glass house.
(I’m even worse about the italics when I’m talking. Think of that, and shudder. Shudder.)
Oh, and also, Moghedien is in this chapter. And I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that she really, really, really doesn’t like Nynaeve. Obsessive hatred much, Mogs? Also, mindtraps now very high on my list of things I am glad do not actually exist, because eurgh.
Chapter 31: Mashiara
In the boat cabin, Nynaeve scowls as she thinks of how her weather sense is telling her that a terrible storm should be on the way. She mocks Elayne’s rationale for sending Nynaeve to the Sea Folk instead of herself, thinking that Elayne just wanted to avoid seeing Nesta again, and also thinks that Aviendha had seemed bizarrely almost frightened at Nynaeve’s attempt to get her to go instead. The boat lurches, eliciting a curse from Nynaeve, which she then berates herself for.
If she had to endure those Sea Folk for long, she would have as much filth coming off of her tongue as Mat did. She did not want to think about him. One more day folding her hands for that . . . that man . . . and she would yank every hair out of her head! Not that he had demanded anything unreasonable so far, but she kept waiting for him to, and his manner . . . !
She tries to distract herself by thinking about the extremely rich outfit and jewels she’s wearing, in an attempt to impress the Sea Folk. Her necklace is from Tylin (who called it “a gift for bringing Mat”, which Nynaeve doesn’t get), and Nynaeve is thinking about Aviendha’s over-the-top reaction to her asking to borrow her rose-and-thorns ivory bracelet when she senses saidar being channeled in huge amounts, and then suddenly finds herself floundering underwater. She swims upward and finds an air pocket in the otherwise submerged and upside down cabin, just as the boat hits the bottom of the river. Nynaeve doesn’t understand what happened, but knows she has to get out before the air pocket runs out. She swims down to where the door to the cabin should be, only to find it is completely blocked in with mud. She realizes she is trapped.
She hammered a fist against the seat until she felt it bruise, fighting for the anger that would allow her to channel. She would not die. Not here. Alone. No one would know where she had died. No grave, just a corpse rotting at the bottom of the river. Her arm fell with a splash. She labored for breath. Flecks of black and silver danced in her eyes; she seemed to be looking down a tube. No anger, she realized dimly. She kept trying to reach for saidar, but without any belief that she would touch it, now. She was going to die here after all. No hope. No Lan. And with hope gone, flickering on the edge of consciousness like a guttering candle flame, she did something she had never done before in her life. She surrendered completely.
Saidar flowed into her, filled her.
She was only half-aware of the wood above her suddenly bulging outward, bursting. In rushing bubbles of air she drifted up, out through the hole in the hull into darkness.
She attempts to swim, and then is grabbed by something; in a panic, Nynaeve lashes out and feels her fist connect with something, but then tries to scream and almost drowns herself. Half-conscious, she lets herself be pulled to the surface, where someone squeezes the water out of her lungs and tows her to a boat. Two deckhands haul her aboard and then turn to help in her rescuer, and Nynaeve vomits all over the deck. Then she hears Lan’s voice, and almost wails aloud, horrified that he should see her like this after so long. She embraces saidar and channels all the water off herself and washes the vomit away, then leaps up and turns to face him. She thinks he is the most beautiful man she’s ever seen, and is admiring him when she sees the bruise on his face.
“Oh, no! Oh, Lan, I’m so sorry! I didn’t mean to!” She was not really aware of crossing the space between them; she was just there, stretching up on toetips to lay fingers gently on his injury. A deft weave of all Five Powers, and his tanned cheek was unblemished. But he might have been hurt elsewhere. She spun the weaves to Delve him; new scars made her wince inside, and there was something odd, but he seemed healthy as a prime bull. He was also very wet, from saving her. She dried him as she had herself; water splashed around his feet. She could not stop touching him. Both hands traced his hard cheeks, his wonderful blue eyes, his strong nose, his firm lips, his ears. She combed that silky black hair into place with her fingers, adjusted the braided leather band that held it. Her tongue seemed to have a life of its own, too. “Oh, Lan,” she murmured. “You really are here.” Somebody giggled. Not herNynaeve al’Meara did not gigglebut somebody did. “It isn’t a dream. Oh, Light, you’re here. How?”
Lan tells her that he would have been here yesterday if Mandarb hadn’t lost a shoe, and one of the deckhands murmurs that she may be Aes Sedai, but she is “one duckling who means to stuff herself in that wolf’s jaws”; Nynaeve flushes and hustles Lan into the cabin (grabbing his stuff with Air). Inside, she goes to touch him again, and Lan tells her quietly that Myrelle now holds his bond, and is lending him to Nynaeve until she finds her own Warder. Nynaeve slaps him, three times, cursing him, and asks how could he when he knew she was waiting; seeing that her slaps are having no effect, she tries punching him in the ribs, but only succeeds in hurting her hand. Lan tells her she should be glad she is not bonded to him, and she seizes his hair with Air and tells him not to dare give her “that drivel” about a widow’s weeds and so on. Lan answers that he debated not telling her about what happens when a Warder’s bond to his Aes Sedai is snapped, but decided she had a right to know, and explains; Nynaeve is horrified, understanding now the cold bleak look in his eyes, and tries not to cry.
“So you see,” he concluded with a smile that touched only his mouth; an accepting smile, “when it’s done, she will have a year or more of pain, and I will still be dead. You are spared that. My last gift to you, Mashiara.” Mashiara. His lost love.
Nynaeve struggles to control herself, and informs him that she waited and wished with Moiraine, but refuses to do so for Myrelle; Myrelle will give Nynaeve Lan’s bond (if she has to “drag the woman to Tar Valon and back by her hair”, she thinks to herself). When Lan starts to protest, she cuts him off and lies that in the Two Rivers, when a man gives a woman a ring, it means that they are betrothed, and now they are getting married, today. Lan answers that he’s dreamed of that, but it cannot be, and starts to say something about Myrelle; Nynaeve gags him with Air and politely tells him she would appreciate it if that name were not mentioned again.
He nodded, and she released the flow, but as soon as he had worked his jaw a moment, he said, “Naming no names, Nynaeve, you know she’s aware of everything I feel, through the bond. If we were man and wife . . . “
She thought her face might burst into flame. She had never thought of that! Bloody Myrelle! “Is there any way to make sure she knows it is me?” she said finally, and her cheeks nearly did flash to fire. Especially when he fell back against the cabin wall laughing in astonishment.
“Light, Nynaeve, you are a hawk! Light! I haven’t laughed since . . . ” His mirth faded, the coldness that had dimmed in his eyes for an instant returning. “I do wish it could be, Nynaeve, but”
“It can and will,” she broke in. Men always seemed to get the upper hand if you let them talk too long.
She plunks herself in his lap, and tells him he belongs to her, and she to him, and he will be her Warder and her husband, and she will not let him die, and he might as well accept that she is going to be stubborn about this. Lan dryly agrees about the stubborn part. Then she wonders where they are going, and Lan tells her he told the boatmen to take them back to the dock. Nynaeve resists getting angry with him, and tells him she can’t go back yet, she has to go to the Sea Folk. Lan tells her what he saw when her boat sank, and that it had to be balefire. Nynaeve breathes, “Moghedien”, and Lan reassures her that if she has to face Moghedien again, he will make sure she is angry enough to channel.
“You’ll never make me angry again,” she began, and stopped, staring at him wide-eyed. “I’m not angry,” she said slowly.
“Not now, but when you need to be”
“I’m not angry,” she laughed. She kicked her feet in delight, and pounded her fists on his chest, laughing. Saidar filled her, not just with life and joy, but this time, with awe. With feathery flows of Air, she stroked his cheeks. “I am not angry, Lan,” she whispered.
“Your block is gone.” He grinned, sharing her delight, but the grin put no warmth into his eyes.
I will take care of you, Lan Mandragoran, she promised silently. I will not let you die.
Suddenly she thinks of something, and asks about the crew and bodyguards on her boat, but Lan shakes his head, to her sorrow. She gets up and asks him to tell the boatmen to turn around, and find a comb if they have one. Lan sweeps her a bow (“As you command, Aes Sedai”), and leaves. Speculating that he is laughing at her, Nynaeve bets herself that someone aboard the Sea Folk ship could perform a marriage.
And from what she had seen of the Sea Folk, she would wager Lan Mandragoran would find himself promising to do as he was told. They would see who laughed then.
Elayne stands at the Kin’s door and knocks, hard. The maid (Cedora) answers, and begins to berate Elayne angrily when Elayne lowers her mask, but then Merilille, Careane, Vandene, and Adeleas (and Sareitha) reveal their faces; Cedora panicks and tries to shut the door, but Birgitte darts in and grabs her in an armlock, and Elayne tells her to take them to Reanne. Cedora leads them upstairs to a room where Reanne and a dozen more women are conferring; most of them show visible signs of aging, and all of them can channel. Reanne jumps up in a fury at the sight of Elayne, but stops dead as Merilille et al enter; one of the other Kin drops down in a faint, but no one else moves.
No one seemed to breathe. Elayne felt a great desire to shout “boo” just to see what would happen.
Reanne tries to calm herself, then wobbles over to Merilille, sinks to her knees and begs forgiveness, assuring them that they are “only a few friends”, whatever “this girl” told them; Merilille cuts her off to tell her that she must address herself to “Elayne Sedai”.
Reanne’s head jerked up in a most satisfactory way. She stared at Merilille, then by slow increments turned eyes as big as her face to Elayne. She licked her lips. She drew a deep, long breath. Twisting around on her knees to face Elayne, she bowed her head once more. “I beg your forgiveness, Aes Sedai,” she said leadenly. “I did not know. I could not” Another long, hopeless breath. “Whatever punishment you decree, we accept humbly, of course, but please, I beg you to believe that”
“Oh, stand up,” Elayne broke in impatiently. She had wanted to make this woman acknowledge her as much as she had Merilille or any of the others, but the groveling sickened her. “That’s right. Stand on your feet.” She waited until Reanne complied, then walked over and sat in the woman’s chair. There was no need for cringing, but she wanted no doubts who was in charge.
She asks Reanne if she still denies knowing about the Bowl, and Reanne answers a bit disingenuously that none of them would dream of using a ter’angreal or any object of the Power, and states again that they are just a few friends. Elayne informs her that the Tower has always known about the Kin; one of the other women shrieks a little, and another faints. Reanne looks at the other Aes Sedai, and sees what she interprets as disapproval or distaste on their faces, though Elayne knows that’s due to the fact that they disapprove of what Elayne is about to tell the Kin.
They had all accepted Elayne’s decision, but no amount of “Yes, Elayne . . . ” could make them like it. They would have been here two hours ago if not for a great deal of “But, Elayne . . . ” tossed in. Sometimes leading meant herding.
Reanne asks if she means to destroy the Kin, and Elayne answers that the Amrylin Seat wishes any woman who can channel be connected to the Tower, and the offer is open to any of the Kin who wish to accept. The Kin are frozen in shock a moment, and then begin babbling excitedly until Reanne shuts them up. Reanne asks if they really can go to the Tower, and when Elayne confirms it, whispers “I can be Green” to herself, and Elayne has to resist the impulse to hug her. Merilille is not so thrilled, and asks Reanne how many Kin are they talking about here; Reanne answers that she can’t imagine anyone refusing, and says that at the moment there are one thousand seven hundred and eighty-three of them. Misunderstanding the shocked silence, Reanne asks if they are disappointed, expecting more.
“We are not disappointed in the least,” Elayne assured her, making soothing gestures. Disappointed? She very nearly giggled hysterically. There were nearly twice as many Kinswomen as there were Aes Sedai! Egwene could never say she had not done her part to bring women who could channel to the Tower. But if the Kin refused wilders . . .
Elayne brings up the Bowl again, but before Reanne can tell her where it is, they all sense a woman channeling downstairs, followed by a scream. Reanne starts for the door, but Elayne stops her and murmurs she isn’t Green yet (Reanne smiles), and the Aes Sedai and Birgitte head for the door. Mat enters, pushing Derys ahead of him, and grins, saying he thought he’d find them here when he found “a bloody great lot of Warders drinking at my least favorite tavern”. He tells Elayne he just got back from following a Wise Woman to the Rahad, to a building he’d bet anything has the Bowl in it. Derys tries to kick him, and Elayne informs Mat that they already know all about it, enjoying his stunned look. Then she feels disapproval from Birgitte, and steels herself and adds that it is still all due to him, and thanks him, to his astonishment. Mat recovers, and proposes they get the bloody Bowl and leave Ebou Dar that night; Elayne counters that they are not roaming the Rahad in darkness, nor are they leaving Ebou Dar until they’ve used the Bowl. Mat tries to argue, but is distracted when Derys starts chasing him around the room, trying to kick him again. Elayne asks Reanne how old she is (a question she could not have brought herself to ask an Aes Sedai).
The woman hesitated, glancing at Mat, but he was still dodging to keep a grinning Birgitte between him and Derys. “My next naming day,” Reanne said as if it was the most ordinary thing in the world, “will be my four hundred and twelfth.”
Merilille fainted dead away.
SING IT, Y’ALL.
I am a You-Tubing fool this post, I swear. But sometimes a good sound clip is worth a thousand written representations of me jumping around and yelling “WHOO!”s of triumphant geekery. Though we can do those too, of course.
My initial reaction to this scene (and I don’t think I’m alone here) was a dropped jaw of Holy Shit, For REALS?? At this point Nynaeve’s block had become such a seemingly immovable (and regularly worked-around) roadblock that I had more or less concluded it was always going to be there, as a kind of permanent handicap for Nynaeve, who after all was (at this point) the most powerful female channeler for the Light.
Of course, in retrospect that doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, since there are plenty of other characters on both sides of the conflict with far greater strength in the Power than Nynaeve already running around completely handicap-free (well, mostly Rand’s got definite issues, at least), and they’re not even all guys. (Well, I suppose you could fight about that, since we don’t know when precisely Stupid-Powerful Lanfear became Only-Mildly-Dumb-Powerful Cyndane, but whatever.)
In other news, I do love me a parenthetical aside. Possibly even more than italics!
Anyway. It’s interesting to compare this CMoA with Elayne’s in the previous chapter. There’s a certain amount of clever irony in that peacemaker Elayne gets her awesome on by finally getting full-on spitting mad, while Ms. Anger Non-Management Nynaeve gets hers by finally not getting angry. I See What You Did There, Mr. Jordan. Nice.
The other element of total awesome to the scene, of course, is Nynaeve’s reunion with Lan, which is one of my favorite romantic interludes in WOT, probably because it involves Nynaeve, and therefore I find it both hilarious and touching at the same time. Her line, “Is there any way to make sure she knows it is me?”, is practically a CMoA all by itself. HAH. Priceless.
Meanwhile, the results of Elayne’s CMoA continue to bear fruit in the (temporary) resolution of the Kin storyline. I admit I got a rather unhealthy amount of vicarious satisfaction out of Reanne’s comeuppance, though it may be rather balanced in that I genuinely went “aw” when she whispered about becoming a Green.
I didn’t understand initially why the Kin were made such a big deal out of in ACOS, but later it becomes clear that the purpose here was to set up one of the Tower’s biggest fails, in its assumption that channelers are a much rarer commodity than they actually are. This is emphasized by Elayne’s thoughts about the Kin’s refusal to take in wilders; if the Kin only take in Tower rejects and runaways, and at that outnumber Aes Sedai two to one, how many more wilders (or women who have never been taught) must be wandering around out there?
Which, of course, comes into play when Egwene scrounges up a thousand new novices on her way to Tar Valon. One must assume this is eventually going to be a decisive factor in the Last Battle, that someone on the Light side thought to tap this resource, because you know for damn sure the villains are doing the same. I mean, I assume at some point we’re going to see the much-hyped Dreadlords we’ve heard so much about.
Also, I’ve said this before, but you have to love the Tower’s sheer arrogance in assuming that other women would simply give up using their Phenomenal Cosmic Power, just because they don’t get to be in the Aes Sedai Sooper Sekrit Club. Many points go to the Supergirls for always thinking this outlook was idiotic, though I think many of the Aes Sedai who actually got out in the world (like Moiraine and Cadsuane) were perfectly well aware it was nonsense as well; they just didn’t bother to disabuse their ivory-towered compatriots of the notion. Which is a whole separate kind of fail, actually, but that’s another topic.
We also see Elayne continuing the Supergirl policy of actually asking non-Aes Sedai politely for things and offering options to people instead of bulldozing them, which I gather is what Merilille et al’s objections were based around. And granted, from a strictly practical expediency point of view being nice to people is the less efficient way to get them to actually do what you want them to, but all things considered I much prefer it when my heroes maintain the moral high ground, even at the expense of pragmatism. So There.
Hokay, there may be more to say here but I is fork-sticking Done, and so here’s where we stop. I will keep you guys posted on the status of, um, posting, and until then, wish me Moving Luck!