The Wheel of Time Reread

The Wheel of Time Re-read: Towers of Midnight, Part 13

If you’ll be my bodyguard, WOTers, I can be your long-lost pal! I can call you Betty, and Betty, when you call me you can call me Wheel of Time Re-read!

Today’s entry covers Chapter 20 and 21 of Towers of Midnight, in which there are incidents and accidents, hints and allegations, and also belated revelations, incipient revolutions, and some perhaps overly-hasty resolutions.

Thanks to everyone who wished me well in my family medical issue, which I am pleased to report seems to have come to a satisfactory conclusion, i.e. false alarm. Whew.

Previous re-read entries are here. The Wheel of Time Master Index is here, which has links to news, reviews, interviews, and all manner of information about the Wheel of Time in general, including the upcoming final volume, A Memory of Light.

This re-read post contains spoilers for all currently published Wheel of Time novels. If you haven’t read, read at your own risk.

And now, the post!

 

Chapter 20: A Choice

What Happens
Nynaeve follows Rosil (Yellow), the new Mistress of Novices, deep into the Tower. Rosil suggests that Nynaeve move her Serpent ring to the third finger of her left hand, where Accepted wore it, but Nynaeve declines. She explains that she is honoring the declaration of the Amyrlin which has already made her Aes Sedai, which mollifies Rosil somewhat. Nynaeve thanks her and the other Yellows (Niere and Meramor) who have welcomed her more warmly than Nynaeve had expected. They reach the room where the testing ter’angreal is held, to find that Egwene herself is there, and all the other sisters performing the test are Sitters, which is unusual. Notably, Romanda, who had been very hard with Nynaeve, is one of them. Rosil begins the ritual questions, but several of the sisters frown when Nynaeve answers the third and fourth:

“For what reason should you be tried?”

“To show that I am worthy,” Nynaeve said.

[…] “And…for what would you be found worthy?”

“To wear the shawl I have been given,” Nynaeve said. She didn’t say it to be arrogant. Once again, she simply stated the truth, as she saw it. Egwene had raised her. She wore the shawl already. Why pretend that she didn’t?

She disrobes while Rosil explains that she may not channel until she reaches the first six-pointed star, and must leave by walking steadily toward the second, remaining calm at all times, a hundred times over, while Saerin weaves something to do with memory over her. The sisters activate the ter’angreal, and Nynaeve steps through to find herself in a village on an island. A volcano erupts, and Nynaeve wants to help the villagers, but goes to the star instead and weaves the first weave and leaves via the second star, remembering only that she must be calm and complete the weave at all costs. She passes through a doorway and is in a cave that leads to the Aiel Waste. Odd-looking Trollocs attack as she walks to the star, and she thinks it is ridiculous that she must walk calmly when under attack, but does so anyway, and uses the second weave to burn the Trolloc-like creatures into cinders before stepping through the archway marked with the second star. By the time she reaches the forty-seventh weave she is exhausted, and is obliged to jump off a spire hundreds of feet tall to fall through the gateway to the next portion. She can’t remember why this is happening, but finds herself growing more and more angry about it.

She’d completed forty-seven of the hundred weaves. She knew that, but nothing else. Other than the fact that somebody very badly wanted her to fail.

She wasn’t going to let them win.

The next test involves weaving while being attacked by hundreds of black-flies, which bite her bloody and crawl down her throat before she is done. The test after that finds her in an abandoned orphanage, with sick children crying feebly to her to save them, and Nynaeve cries as she leaves them to go to the star. After that more of the tests involve leaving people to be drowned, beheaded, buried alive, or eaten by spiders. By the eighty-first weave she is covered in scratches and welts, and finds herself in the Two Rivers, where Master al’Vere and Perrin and others she knows (Mistress al’Donel, Aeric Botteger) are fighting enormous Shadowspawn. They call to her to help, but the star is the other way, and she begins walking calmly to it.

That was stupid. An Aes Sedai had to be calm. She knew that. But an Aes Sedai also needed to be able to act, to do what was needed to help those who needed it. It didn’t matter what it cost her personally. These people needed her.

So she started to run.

Something tries to stop her when she reaches the star, but she bursts through the shield. She channels the required weave (three rings of Fire), but makes them gigantic and uses them to destroy the Shadowspawn, before forcing herself to leave via the second star. By the hundredth weave, Nynaeve can barely move, covered in wounds, her braid burned away, weeping over all those she had been forced to abandon. She finds an Accepted dress, but spurns it, and finds she is in the Blight, and then recognizes she is in what had once been Malkier. She finds the star and begins the weave, but as she finishes Lan appears, fighting an entire pack of Darkhounds by himself. She screams his name, and then sees the second star.

This was a test. She could remember that now. It was a test to force her to choose between him and the White Tower. She’d made that choice once, but she’d known it wasn’t real.

This wasn’t real either, was it? She raised a hand to her head, mind cloudy. That is my husband down there, she thought. No. I will not play this game!

She weaves Fire, attacking the Hounds, but it has no effect, and so she weaves balefire instead, which destroys the Darkhounds but also makes the whole landscape shudder. She reaches Lan and Heals his wounds, and they fight together, each of them tiring rapidly. She creates a crater between them and the pack, precipitating an earthquake, and she and Lan run up the hill. He falls, but she hauls him up and through the doorway – and emerges alone in the Tower, remembering everything, covered in wounds. She collapses to the ground, weeping, and Saerin calls for someone to Heal her. Rosil does so, but the exhaustion is ten times worse, as is the emotional pain.

“Well,” Saerin said from nearby, “seems that she’ll live. Now, would someone please tell me what in the name of creation itself that was?” She sounded furious. “I’ve been a part of many a raising, even one where the woman didn’t survive. But I have never, in all of my days, seen a woman put through what this one just suffered.”

Rubinde says she had to be tested “properly,” and Saerin retorts that the test had been “downright vengeful,” and declares they should all be ashamed. Barasine (Red) interjects coldly that it doesn’t matter, as Nynaeve has failed the test: she did not show “proper decorum.” Lelaine agrees, and Seaine reluctantly points out that Nynaeve had been openly furious by the end of the test, and ran instead of walked, and then used the forbidden weave of balefire. Nynaeve forces herself to stand, and replies that she did what she had to do.

“Who among you would not run if you saw people in danger? Who among you would forbid herself to channel if she saw Shadowspawn attacking? I acted as an Aes Sedai should.”

“This test,” Barasine said, “is meant to ensure that a woman is capable of dedicating herself to a greater task. To see that she can ignore the distractions of the moment and seek a higher good.”

Nynaeve sniffed. “I completed the weaves I needed to. I maintained my focus. Yes, I broke my calm—but I kept a cool enough head to complete my tasks. One should not demand calmness for the mere sake of calmness, and a prohibition on running when there are people you need to save is foolish.

“My goal in this test was to prove that I deserve to be Aes Sedai. Well, then, I could argue that the lives of the people I saw were more important than gaining that title. If losing my title is what would be required to save someone’s life—and if there were no other consequences—I’d do it. Every time. Not saving them wouldn’t be serving a higher good; it would just be selfish.”

Nynaeve walks away, and Egwene joins her while the others consult. She tells Nynaeve that she angered and confused the other sisters by being able to flout the rules within the test, which she should not have been physically capable of doing. Egwene says she warned them that Nynaeve’s experience in Tel’aran’rhiod might make her capable of breaking the rules, and that she thinks it might help go in her favor, by proving that Nynaeve was too experienced to have been given this test in the first place, especially since Nynaeve performed the required weaves with ease. Nynaeve asks if Egwene had been the one to create the Two Rivers scenario and the one with Lan; Egwene admits that she was, and starts to apologize, but Nynaeve stops her, saying it showed her something.

“I realized that if I had to choose between becoming an Aes Sedai and going with Lan, I’d choose Lan. What people call me doesn’t change anything inside of me. Lan, however… he is more than a title. I can still channel—I can still be me—if I never become Aes Sedai. But I would never be myself again if I abandoned him. The world changed when I married him.”

Egwene says she’d better hope the others don’t realize Nynaeve has loyalties superseding the White Tower, and Nynaeve replies that she thinks having no passion or love beyond the Tower risks arrogance; she does not think they should guide the world while making themselves separate from it. Egwene looks troubled, and warns her to keep that to herself for now. She apologizes again for the brutality of the test, and says she should have put a stop to it, but Nynaeve replies that it taught her a great deal about herself, and about the Aes Sedai.

She wanted to be Aes Sedai, fully and truly embraced. She wanted it badly. But in the end, if these people chose to refuse her their approval, she knew she could continue on and do what she needed to do anyway.

The others approach, and Saerin tells Nynaeve that her use of balefire could have destroyed the ter’angreal and perhaps killed all of them, and wants her to promise never to use it again. Nynaeve refuses, and points out that she will be fighting in the Last Battle with Rand, and asks if they would truly make her choose between making a foolish oath and saving the world. She says they will have to trust her judgment on balefire, or not raise her at all.

“I would be careful,” Egwene said to the women. “Refusing the shawl to the woman who helped cleanse the taint from saidin—the woman who defeated Moghedien herself in battle, the woman married to the King of Malkier—would set a very dangerous precedent.”

The others look at each other, and at length Saerin declares that Nynaeve has passed the test – narrowly. Rosil declares that none of them shall ever speak of what passed here, and tells Nynaeve she will spend the rest of the night in prayer and contemplation. Nynaeve says she has one important thing to attend to first.

She takes a gateway to the camp where Egwene’s envoys to the Black Tower are stationed. Nynaeve was surprised to find them still outside the walls, but the guards had told her that “others had the first choice.” She arrives at Myrelle’s tent and calls her outside, and tells her she has something that belongs to her. Myrelle thinks that depends on opinion, and Nynaeve tells her she was raised today, and they are equals now. Myrelle tells her to return tomorrow, and Nynaeve catches her arm and thanks her, for helping him live, but says this is not the time for Myrelle to push her.

“I swear to you, woman, if you do not pass me Lan’s bond this very moment, I will step into that tent and teach you the meaning of obedience. Do not press me. In the morning, I swear the Three Oaths. I’m free of them for one more night.”

Myrelle froze. Then she sighed and stepped back out of the tent. “So be it.” She closed her eyes, weaving Spirit and sending the weaves into Nynaeve.

It felt like an object being shoved physically into her mind. Nynaeve gasped, her surroundings spinning.

Myrelle turned and slipped back into her tent. Nynaeve slid down until she was sitting on the ground. Something was blossoming inside her mind. An awareness. Beautiful, wonderful.

It was him. And he was still alive.

Blessed Light, she thought, eyes closed. Thank you.

Commentary
Yeah, I knew I was right to heart Nynaeve.

Not that there was really much doubt of her badassery before this, but it’s always nice to have extra confirmation.

And this chapter was doubly cool in the Nynaeve badassery front, in that it showcased not only her prowess in kicking physical ass, which we all knew about already, but in her calling out, with stinging accuracy, the flaws in the infrastructure of the White Tower and its rituals, and their lack of applicability to real life, and how that can, and will, present a very real danger to its inhabitants in the very large dose of Real Life (so to speak) looming on their horizon.

The Tower, in this series, has always been mainly symbolic of two things: of the Roman Catholic Church specifically, and more generally of the “ivory tower” mentality that very old, very ritualized institutions like the RCC tend to develop. Humans, as a general rule, have a great fondness for ritual and tradition, and the older those rituals are the more we tend to revere them. The progression and logic, therefore, behind the Tower’s gradual recession from “ordinary” life and descent into arcane, rigid ritualism over the past few millenia makes perfect sense, and yet that does not mean that that progression should be condoned.

Quite the opposite, in fact. Just because an idea is older than dirt doesn’t necessarily mean it’s worth more than something that isn’t. People believed for thousands of years that the earth was flat; that didn’t make them any less wrong.

And while the Tower is probably not going to appreciate it anytime soon, it is very lucky that women like Nynaeve have the will and conviction (and, incidentally, the power and political connections, as Egwene points out) to challenge that mentality, to demand that its traditions be required to prove their usefulness and validity, instead of the Tower continuing to allow things to be done merely because that is the way they have always been done.

Not that she made that demand here, exactly, or at least not that she was able to make it stick very well. Yet. But she definitely made a good start.

I kind of like the inkling of the team dynamic that’s started here between Egwene and Nynaeve, as well. I’m sure there will be those that will be annoyed with Egwene for her defense (however half-hearted) of the status quo, but to my mind, as the leader of the Tower that’s a line Egwene is obliged to walk. Nynaeve is (or will be) free to be the wild-eyed revolutionary of the pair, but as Amyrlin it will be Egwene’s job to find the balance between Nynaeve’s necessary reformist ideas, and sustaining enough of the tradition and structure of the Tower to keep it from falling apart. No change at all is bad, obviously, but overly rapid change often proves to be worse.

All that said, it’s a shame that the need for such moderation makes any retribution against the sisters who basically tortured Nynaeve in this chapter unlikely. Because that shit is NOT COOL. Grr.

The only real sour note in this chapter for me was the coda at the end where Nynaeve acquires Lan’s bond. Not in what actually happened, because FINALLY, YAY, but because again, I felt like the moment got rather short shrift.

I’m not going to belabor this too much, because honestly I’m not going to claim I know how the moment should have gone, but all I can tell you is that when I first read it, my primary response was disappointment that it happened so fast. I will say that it worked a little better for me on re-reading, so there’s that, but still it was… abrupt.

As a final note, Myrelle’s one of the Tower envoys to the Black Tower? Eeek. Myrelle’s never been my favorite Aes Sedai, but I believe I’m on record as saying no one deserves what’s going down in that joint. Let’s hope Androl and Pevara fix that shit before Egwene’s people get their turn at the mangler. Yeesh.

 

Chapter 21: An Open Gate

What Happens
Perrin listens to Seonid’s report from Cairhien, trying not to be distracted by thoughts of his lessons in the wolf dream. Seonid says Cairhien is still a mess, but Elayne Trakand has apparently finally secured Andor’s throne, so may be coming to Cairhien next. There are rumors that the Lord Dragon is in Arad Doman with his Aiel (which Edarra and the colors confirm), perhaps to meet the Seanchan there, and Perrin tries not to imagine what a battle between Wise Ones and damane would be like. Seonid also reports that King Darlin is gathering an army in Tear, and campaigns hopefully for a trip there, but Perrin thinks it makes more sense to go to Andor and talk to Elayne first.

Faile smelled worried.

“Lord Aybara,” Seonid said, “do you think the Queen will welcome you? With the flag of Manetheren, and your self-endowed title of Lord…”

Perrin scowled. “Both of those fool banners are down now, and Elayne will see things right, once I explain them to her.”

He tells Alliandre that she and her troops will be going back to Jehannah once they’ve dealt with the Whitecloaks; they’ve ignored his requests for a further parley, so Perrin is of “a mind to give them a fight.” They discuss the Seanchan, and Annoura comments that it would be wise to have an alliance with the Seanchan for the Last Battle, but Edarra counters coldly that the Seanchan have chained Wise Ones, and not just Shaido; there is talk of declaring blood feud. Perrin points out that he doubts Rand would want that.

“A year and a day,” Edarra said simply. “Wise Ones cannot be taken gai’shain, but perhaps the Seanchan ways are different. Regardless, we will give them a year and a day. If they do not release their captives when we demand them after that time, they will know our spears. The Car’a’carn cannot demand any more from us.”

The pavilion grew still.

Perrin is irritated to learn that the Wise Ones had also sent Maidens to scout in Caemlyn, but they are not impressed, and Seonid says that it was important, as there had been rumors that one of the Forsaken was operating there. Perrin nods and comments that Rand had said it was Rahvin, that he was impersonating a local nobleman named “Gabral or Gabil or some such,” and that he had made the Queen fall in love with him before killing her.

A serving tray hit the ground with a muted peal. Porcelain cups shattered, tea spraying into the air. Perrin spun, cursing, and several of the Maidens leaped to their feet, clutching belt knives.

Maighdin stood, looking stunned, arms at her sides. The fallen tray lay on the ground before her.

Maighdin asks Perrin if he was certain of what he’d said, and Perrin is confused, but replies that Rand was sure. Sulin confirms it, saying that she had been there when Rand fought him with the One Power, and there was no doubt that “Gaebril” had been one of the Shadowsouled. Edarra adds that the Car’a’carn had spoken of it, saying that Gaebril had been using the One Power to twist the minds of the people in the palace, making them do what he wanted. Perrin asks Maighdin what’s wrong, but she only replies that she must be excused, and leaves. Faile apologizes for her awkwardly, and they move on. Grady confirms that he and Neald are more or less completely recovered, and Perrin says he wants to start sending the refugees home. Tam points out, though, that most of them have started training, and will not want to leave.

“Some will want to check on family,” Tam said, “but only if you’ll let them back. They can see that sky. They know what’s coming.”

Perrin decides to deal with it later, and tells Balwer to write the Whitecloaks and tell them to pick a place to fight, even though it feels wrong to kill so many who could be fighting the Shadow instead. The meeting breaks up, and Perrin notes suspiciously that Faile and Berelain are walking together, chatting amiably even though they both smell angry. Balwer intercepts him to tell him again that the rumors that Rand is pursuing a treaty with the Seanchan are probably not idle, and also to show him the sketches of Mat and himself, which have been circulating among the criminal element in Cairhien with promises of large sums of money attached for anyone who kills them.

“And you discovered these while visiting the scholars at Rand’s school?” Perrin asked.

The pinch-faced scribe displayed no emotion.

“Who are you really, Balwer?”

“A secretary. With some measure of skill in finding secrets.”

Perrin isn’t buying it, and wants to know what his problem with the Whitecloaks specifically is about. At length, Balwer confesses that his previous employer was “killed by the Children”, and he worries that some of them may recognize him. Perrin backs off and compliments his skills, and tries to offer him a raise, but Balwer refuses vehemently, and points out that one of the easiest ways to sniff out a spy is to check whether he’s being paid more than he should be. He says working with Perrin is reward enough, and Perrin shrugs and lets it go. Balwer leaves, and Perrin examines the sketch of him again.

He’d bet these pictures were in Andor, too, placed by the Forsaken.

For the first time, he found himself wondering if he was going to need an army to keep himself safe. It was a disturbing thought.

Ituralde watches from the base of the hill as the Trolloc horde surges over the top of it. His forces are arranged in such a way that is designed to give ground slowly to the coming assault. The archers loose, and the Trollocs meet the pike line, dying in  droves but pressing on over the corpses of the others. The rest of the troops begin their retreat, and Ituralde worries over whether the Asha’man will be too exhausted to hold the line once the pikes fall back.

If they were able to break the Trolloc advance, his army would fall back southward. That retreat would take them past the safety of Maradon, but they would not be allowed in. Those inside had rebuffed all Ituralde’s attempts at communication. “We do not abet invaders” had been the reply each time. Bloody fools.

Ituralde has the archers fire on a group of wolf-like Trollocs, which often tend to be smarter than many of the other kinds, and thinks he is not looking forward to when the Fades will join in, and hopes that his plan for retreat works. He tells himself again that the Dragon Reborn will keep his promise. Then he sees one of his lieutenants, Lidrin, breaking the line to surge forward, and rides to shout at him to get back. Lidrin is crazed, though, and shouts that they’re all going to die anyway, and ignores him. He goes down, and the pike line breaks. The Trollocs howl and surge toward the hole in Ituralde’s defenses, and he joins the line himself, trying to hold it. The fight is brutal, and the men are losing. Then to Ituralde’s horror, someone sounds the retreat too soon, meaning some of the pikes retreat and others do not.

The lines around Ituralde burst, men scattering as the Trollocs swarmed over them. It was a disaster, as bad a disaster as Ituralde had ever been part of. His fingers felt limp.

If we fall, Shadowspawn destroy Arad Doman.

Ituralde falls back long enough to order the cavalry and the Asha’man to attack, and then the Fades and Draghkar join in the fight, and the battle dissolves into total chaos, the weakened Asha’man not able to hold them off. Men are dying all around him, and Ituralde thinks that at least they’d given the Shadow a fight. His horse gets shot out from under him and Ituralde falls wrong, feeling his leg break. He forces himself to sit up and grab a pike, spearing a Trolloc from the ground, but then a Fade sees him, and Ituralde knows he is a dead man. He prepares to die, but then out of nowhere a dozen arrows slam into the Fade, and Ituralde sees with amazement that thousands of horsemen are charging the field.

The Dragon Reborn! He came!

But no. These men flew the Saldaean flag. He looked back. The gates of Maradon were open, and Ituralde’s tired survivors were being allowed to limp inside. Fire was flying from the battlements—his Asha’man had been allowed up top to get a vantage on the battlefield.

The Saldaean sally is enough to break the Trolloc charge momentarily. A Saldaean soldier introduces himself to Ituralde as Yoeli, and says he is charge for the moment. He pulls Ituralde up to ride with him, and they retreat back to the city with the rest of Ituralde’s forces. Ituralde comments that it took them long enough, and Yoeli replies that he hopes Ituralde is worth it, as what he’s just done may cost Yoeli his life.

“What?”

The man didn’t reply. He simply bore Ituralde on thundering hooves into the safety of the city—such as that safety was, considering the city was now besieged by a force of several hundred thousand Shadowspawn.

Morgase walks out of camp into the woods, and tries to come to grips with what she’d just been told. She thinks of all those who had manipulated her over the years, whether she knew it or not, Taringail and Valda as well as Gaebril. Tallanvor appears and announces he is going to Tear, to join the army gathering there. Morgase says that they said Tallanvor was as single-minded in searching for her as Perrin had been for Faile.

“I’ve never had a man do that for me,” she continued. “Taringail saw me as a pawn, Thom as a beauty to be hunted and romanced, and Gareth as a queen to be served. But none of them made me their entire life, their heart. I think Thom and Gareth loved me, but as something to be held and cared for, then released. I didn’t think you’d ever let go.”

Tallanvor says he won’t, but Morgase points out that he just said he was leaving. Tallanvor replies that his heart will stay, but she has made it clear that his attentions are not welcome, and that she has still not gotten over Gaebril, even after what he did to her.

“You fawned over Gaebril, and he all but ignored you. That’s how love is. Bloody ashes, I’ve all but done the same thing with you.”

He says that’s why he’s going away, and makes to leave. She tells him Gaebril was one of the Forsaken, and he stops dead. She explains what she learned, and tells him about Compulsion and what it does. She tells him that she cannot help but desire Gaebril even now, but she loathes him at the same time.

She turned and looked down at Tallanvor. “I know love, Tallanvor, and Gaebril never had it from me. I doubt that a creature like him could comprehend love.”

Tallanvor met her eyes. His were dark gray, soft and pure. “Woman, you give me that monster hope again. Be wary of what lies at your feet.”

She tells him she needs time to think, and asks if he will wait. Tallanvor bows and tells her he will do anything she asks, and leaves.

Commentary
I’m not really sure why this chapter was divided up the way it was – it seems like it would be much more logical to have the Morgase scene follow immediately upon Perrin’s, and close with the Ituralde battle stuff – but oh well.

I’ve said this before, I’m sure, but it bears repeating: Morgase continues to be a very troubling character for me, defined as she is entirely by either the men who have loved her, or those who have victimized her. That she herself recognizes this fact in this chapter doesn’t change it, only draws attention to it. In fact it exacerbates the problem, by establishing that her history of being defined by the men in her life extends back over, apparently, her entire life.

Morgase, in fact, is practically the embodiment of every one of the more subtle negative stereotypes that plague female characters, particularly in epic fantasy. She is passive rather than active; a moral object, rather than a moral actor. She doesn’t do things; things are done to her. The one truly decisive action she’s taken in the entire series regarding her own life, that wasn’t at the behest of or coerced by others, is her escape from Rahvin, and since then she has basically been blown about wherever the other characters she meets or travels with decide to take her. Not to mention how the vast majority of her plotlines revolve around who she is or is not sleeping with, voluntarily or otherwise, which, the less said how I feel about that the better.

This is especially notable in a series like the Wheel of Time, in which the authors have generally done extraordinarily well in making female characters active rather than passive, in giving them agency in directing their own lives (Nynaeve in the previous chapter being a rather shining example of that). So well, in fact, that this is one of the things that made the series stand out originally. I suppose it’s possible to argue that Morgase is therefore the exception that proves the rule, but for my money it just makes her lack of agency all that much more jarring and disappointing by contrast.

All of the characters of WOT are blown about by the winds of fate, of course (this is, after all, one of the central themes of the series), but Morgase is nearly unique (among the major characters) in how little control she has ever even tried to take over that fact. She even talks in this chapter about how she gained the throne by being passive!

Seriously, if that’s really the case then Morgase is not a thing like her daughter, and Elayne should feel grateful the apple apparently fell so far from the tree. Sheesh.

And yes, I grant you that there is an actual outside reason why her free will is a bowl of mush, namely that she had her brains scrambled by Compulsion, but this is only a mechanical/magical extension of the entire passive victimization trope in the first place. Not to mention, this chapter makes it clear that her passivity extended to well before Rahvin ever came on the scene.

Sigh. But, it’s nice that she’s on her way to getting her terrible, awful, no good, very bad mess of a character arc wrapped up. And I was pleased that she did finally find out about Gaebril = Rahvin, so at least theoretically she can stop beating herself up about that particular instance of… that.

I think this chapter was also supposed to be a bit of a character moment for Balwer, but I think it fell rather flat, owing to the fact that Balwer still wasn’t completely honest with Perrin about who he really was (or had been). Honesty being a more or less absolute prerequisite in WOT for getting any kind of resolution on anything, Balwer still fails the criteria, in my opinion. I can’t remember if he does fess up more later, but I hope he does.

Also, nice bit of foreshadowing here, thanks to Edarra. I barely noted what she said about the Seanchan and blood feud here the first time around, but now it strikes me as ominous indeed. We will obviously be talking about this much more later on.

Oh, and there was a battle. Which I liked very much, don’t get me wrong, but battles tend to be pretty straightforward in terms of plot movement and also fairly low on character development, so there isn’t always very much to say about them other than “hey, that was cool.” Ituralde is badass, but I’m pretty sure you don’t need me to tell you that.


And that’s what I got for this one, peoples. Give yourselves an upbeat piccolo solo and an unexplained cameo from Chevy Chase, and I’ll see you next week!

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