The Wheel of Time Reread

The Wheel of Time Re-read: Towers of Midnight, Part 25

Holy sleep deprivation, Batman, it’s a Wheel of Time Re-read!

Today’s entry covers Chapter 45-47 of Towers of Midnight, in which there is a reunion, a segue, bees with knees, a negotiation, headdesking, a cameo, and a total lack of sufficient brain to list these things in any remotely clever and/or amusing way.

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 45: A Reunion

What Happens
Elayne wakes with Egwene’s dream-sent message in her mind: “The serpent has fallen. Your brother’s return was timely.” Elayne is intensely relieved at the news of Mesaana’s defeat, and pleased at the implication that Egwene and Gawyn have worked things out. Elayne basks in the warmth coming from her bond with Rand recently, which she’d been feeling ever since the cloud cover around Andor had broken. She is reflecting on the progress of the dragons when Melfane enters, and Elayne attempts perhaps overzealously to appear cheerful for her. Then she feels her babies kicking and exclaims in excitement for Melfane to come feel. Melfane chastises her for overtiring herself, but admits for the first time that she believes Elayne about being pregnant with twins.

“There are two heartbeats in your womb, sure as I have two arms. Don’t know how you knew it.”

“You heard the heartbeats!” Elayne exclaimed, elated.

“Yes, they’re there, sure as the sun.”

Elayne meets with Norry later that morning. Dyelin is also present, which intrigues Elayne since Dyelin doesn’t usually attend this meeting. Norry goes through the usual business, then Elayne orders him to go through with the plan to deploy several companies of the Band of the Red Hand to Cairhien to “lend aid in restoring order.” Dyelin interjects to say Elayne must find a way to take the Sun Throne without making it look like Andor is subsuming Cairhien; if the Cairhienin suspect they are not being treated as equals with the Andorans, Elayne will have more scheming on her hands than she can handle, and going in with armies will not help.

“The Cairhienin are a proud people. To think of themselves living conquered beneath Andor’s Crown…”

“They lived beneath Rand’s power.”

“With all due respect, Elayne,” Dyelin said. “He is the Dragon Reborn. You are not.”

Norry chimes in to report that he has heard rumors of rebellion against Elayne in Cairhien, going back as far as when Rand had first declared the throne was to be hers, for fear that if she should take power she would strip the Cairhienin nobility of their titles and give them to Andorans instead. Elayne exclaims that that is ridiculous, and wonders who stands to benefit the most from starting such rumors. At length she speculates that those in the best position to take power if Elayne is blocked are those nobles who neither opposed Rand openly nor supported him wholeheartedly, and orders Norry and Dyelin to get her those names. She is also worried about the invasion info from Chesmal, though Dyelin thinks she meant the Borderland incursions. They are interrupted when Birgitte enters, followed by two figures shrouded in black cloaks. Elayne guesses one is Mat, but is shocked to see it is Galad. She greets him warmly, but he does not move to take her hands, warning her instead to brace herself.

Elayne frowned as the second, shorter figure lowered her hood. Elayne’s mother.

Elayne gasped. It was her! That face, that golden hair. Those eyes that had so often looked at Elayne as a child, judging her, measuring her—not merely as a parent measured her daughter, but as a queen measured her successor. Elayne felt her heart beating in her chest. Her mother. Her mother was alive.

Morgase was alive. The Queen still lived.

Morgase locked eyes with Elayne, then—oddly—Morgase looked down. “Your Majesty,” she said with a curtsy, still remaining beside the door.

Elayne controls her shock with an effort and bids Morgase to sit. Morgase obeys, and Elayne wonders why she keeps addressing Elayne as “your Majesty,” and then realizes that Morgase must have renounced the throne. Morgase confirms it, to Dyelin’s loud relief. Morgase explains that she was held by the Whitecloaks; Elayne curses them, upon which Galad pointedly uncovers his cloak and tells her he is the Lord Captain Commander of the Children of the Light. He explains what happened in part, but Elayne asks if he could join her for dinner that evening to hear more. He agrees, and Elayne declares that news of her mother’s abdication must be proclaimed immediately, and sends Dyelin, Galad and Norry out. Only then do Elayne and Morgase embrace tearfully. Morgase is thrilled by Elayne’s accomplishments, and Elayne breaks the news to her that she is to be a grandmother, and that Rand is the father. Morgase is less than thrilled by that, but Elayne pleads with her to ignore the rumors she has heard about him.

Morgase drew her lips into a thin line. “I shall withhold judgment. Though in a way I still feel that I should have thrown that boy in the Palace dungeons the moment we found him skulking in the gardens. I didn’t like how he looked at you even then, mind you.”

They discuss the political situation Morgase’s return could precipitate, but Elayne insists that she is glad Morgase revealed herself to her. Elayne confirms to Morgase that Gaebril was Rahvin, a Forsaken, and that he used Compulsion on her. She offers to have someone from the Tower Heal it, but Morgase says she has found another to give her affection to. They move on to discuss Perrin Aybara, and Morgase tells Elayne that he had been instrumental in Morgase’s safe return.

“He is an honest man, and honorable as well. But also a rebel, despite his good intentions. You will not have an easy time of it if you come to blows with that one.”

“I’d rather avoid it.” She grimaced. The easiest way to deal with it would be to find him and execute him, but of course she wasn’t going to do that. Even if reports had her fuming enough to almost wish that she could.

Morgase goes on to explain her story, and Elayne rejoices that at least this one thing had turned out all right.

Aviendha sits on a ridge overlooking Rhuidean, and contemplates how Rand had inadvertently broken the city’s significance, by clearing the mists from it, by bringing it water, but most importantly, Aviendha thinks, by making its original purpose for the Aiel – the revelation of their secret history – irrelevant. She is uncomfortable with the idea of ignoring tradition, but reflects that it is a strength to be able to accept change when it cannot be avoided. She worries what her own fate as an Aiel will be, tied as she is to Rand and Elayne in the wetlands.

So troubling, both for herself and her people. Traditions should not be maintained just because they were traditions. Strength was not strength if it had no purpose or direction.

She studies the city, reflecting that at least it remained a place of peace, and decides to go ahead with the ritual of passing through the glass columns. She thinks that even if it is less meaningful now, she still wishes to see what the others had seen.

Besides, knowing one’s past was important in order to understand the future.

Wise Ones and clan chiefs had been visiting this location for centuries. They returned with knowledge. Maybe the city would show her what to do about her people, and about her own heart.

Morgase and Elayne’s reunion is another situation in which I am not sure that I am right to be rather underwhelmed by. It becomes obvious further into the chapter that both Morgase and Elayne were holding back on their reactions for the sake of the other people in the room, and yet… eh, I dunno. I just felt like it wasn’t handled correctly, or sufficiently, and yet at the same time I question my own objectiveness in the matter.

Part of the problem of evaluating almost anything that happens in the latter books of this series, really, is that certain events have been hanging fire for so incredibly long (in reader time) that it feels rather like no matter how they go down it’s not going to be enough to match the fandom anticipation of them occurring. But this is the problem with hype, I guess. It warps your perceptions of what you’re reading/watching/consuming, sometimes to the point that, I think, there is literally no way the execution of any given thing can match the anticipation of that thing happening.

I kind of feel like there is a whole dissertation here, really, in how the connectiveness and synergy of modern day fandoms have irrevocably changed the way we relate to the media those fandoms consume, but that frankly goes beyond the scope of what I’m doing here, and WOT fandom is not even the best example of that phenomenon anyway—though I feel like we come pretty close, sometimes.

I did enjoy that Elayne was totally dissing the Whitecloaks in front of Galad and he was all, “um, hi” with his uniform. It could have been played for a bigger laugh, maybe, but it was still pretty amusing.

As for the Cairhienin thing, I really don’t feel like I have much to say about it, except applause, I suppose, for keeping their national stereotype character consistent. Oh, Cairhienin nobles are scheming, stop the presses.

The Aviendha bit was good, but all setup for what’s coming, so I’ll discuss it when we get to the main event.


Chapter 46: Working Leather

What Happens
Androl Genhald sits in his workshop, carefully stitching together a leather armguard, reflecting that it was nice to create something instead of destroy it for once. He discovers that someone has nicked his shears, and instead improvises a tiny, inch-wide gateway to cut the leather. He remembers how it was his Talent with gateways that had caused Logain to go to the Lord Dragon, against the M’Hael’s wishes, in order to get Androl promoted from soldier to Dedicated despite Androl’s relative weakness in the Power.

Logain was a hard man, broken around the edges, like an old scabbard that hadn’t been properly lacquered. But that scabbard still held a deadly sword. Logain was honest. A good man, beneath the scuff marks.

He finishes his work and heads out into the small village that is the Black Tower, though the foundations have been laid for a real Tower and a city that he thinks will eventually rival Tar Valon. Black-coated men are everywhere, using the Power to blast and build. Androl thinks the strangest sight is the children running blithely around in the midst of men channeling saidin, when they used to be horror tales used to scare children. He gives the children candy and shoos them off, and goes to where a number of soldiers, most from the Two Rivers, are blasting out a canal. He gives them advice on shoring up the sides, and they listen to him respectfully and beam at his compliments.

It was good to have them, particularly compared to the quality of men Taim had been recruiting lately. The M’Hael’s scouts claimed they took whoever they could find, yet why was it that most they brought back had such angry, unsettling dispositions?

One of the men asks Androl if he’d heard anything about Logain, but Androl has not, and worries about how Logain has been gone for weeks, along with three of the most powerful Dedicated loyal to him (Donalo, Mezar and Welyn). He advises the Two Rivers lads to keep their heads down for now, but is distracted by the shadows beginning to creep toward him, as they always did when he held saidin for too long. He releases the Power and the shadows go away. The soldiers watch him uncomfortably, and Androl wonders why anyone listens to him when he is weak in the Power and partially insane to boot. He leaves them and heads to the practice range, where Asha’man are leveling hills (explosively) to clear farmland, and notes with unease how clear the division is between the M’Hael’s cronies and those loyal to Logain. He also notes that the weaves used by the M’Hael’s men are wilder and more destructive than Logain’s men. He approaches the latter group (Canler, Emarin, Nalaam, and Jonneth Dowtry), where Nalaam is spinning outrageously tall tales (and occasionally talking in gibberish). Emarin, whom Androl thinks is a former nobleman, speaks aside with Androl, asking how they are to fight for the Lord Dragon with these divisions among themselves.

“They say that no man favored of Logain has had the Dragon pin in weeks. There are many, like Nalaam there, who should have had the sword pin long ago—but are denied repeatedly by the M’Hael. A House whose members squabble for authority will never present a threat to other Houses.”

Emarin suggests that Androl try to calm the others from being goaded into something rash. Androl doesn’t see why it should be him, and Emarin tells him that Logain trusts him, as do the other men. Androl changes the subject by giving Jonneth the armguard, to the other’s delight, and Jonneth demonstrates his impressive Two Rivers archery skills. Androl tries the bow, but finds he can barely draw it. They are interrupted by Coteren, a full Asha’man and personal friend to the M’Hael, who comes over to taunt Androl for his weakness in the Power, forcing him to demonstrate it. Androl endures the bullying without complaint, but the others get riled up on his behalf. It comes near to a confrontation until Androl talks them down. Coteren laughs and leaves. Nalaam comments that they’ve lost a dozen men to Taim’s side in the last few weeks, and they discuss who is still trustworthy, which is a depressingly short list and includes no full Asha’man.

“The men who take Taim’s private lessons learn too quickly,” Nalaam said. “Nensen was barely powerful enough to be considered for Dedicated just a short time ago. Now he’s full Asha’man. Something very strange is going on. […] And that Kash. Where did he even come from, and how did he grow so powerful so quickly?”

Jonneth adds that Taim’s men have spread rumors that the Lord Dragon has abandoned them and/or gone mad, and opines that Taim himself is the source of the tales. Canler wonders if there isn’t some truth to the rumors, but Emarin disagrees, saying he’d met the Lord Dragon before he came to the Black Tower, and that he trusts him. Canler points out that Logain had been cursing that the Lord Dragon won’t listen to his warnings about Taim, and Jonneth suggests that perhaps they could try to find proof that Logain is right. They all look to Androl, who still doesn’t understand why they defer to him, but agrees to the idea. He tells them to bring Evin, Hardlin and Norley in on it, but no one else, and bring him whatever they find; meanwhile he will try to find a way to contact Logain.

Each man nodded, somber. Light help us if we’re wrong, Androl thought, looking back at Taim’s favorites. And Light help us more if we’re right.

I remember when I first started reading this chapter and realized it was actually about the Black Tower I got seriously excited, because I have been bellyaching for years about the appalling dearth of screen time in WOT devoted to the Asha’man and the Black Tower. So my reaction was definitely along the lines of ZOMG, FINALLY. Finally, maybe we get to find out what the deal is here!

That alone would have made the chapter interesting, but I also think it stands on its own merits as well. I just really, really liked this chapter all around. Not only for the glimpse into Asha’man society that I’ve only been wanting since LOC it provides, but also because it is a fabulous example of how to succinctly introduce a character we’ve never met before and yet also make us (or me, anyway) completely root for that character instantly.

Because Androl is awesome, you guys, I don’t care what anyone says. He spends the whole chapter wondering why everyone thinks he’s the bees’ knees, and the fact that he doesn’t get why is precisely the reason he is. The bees’ knees, I mean.

I don’t know, maybe it’s just me who has a particular soft spot for characters (or people) who don’t bother to truck with ego or posturing or any of that, but just quietly have all their shit squared away. And not because of any outside pressure, but because to them, that’s just the way it ought to be. Those people are badass, in my opinion. They are exactly the people you want at your back, in any situation. Or in front, even.

Competency, y’all, I heart it. And not just in the sense of being good at something. I mean “competency” in the sense of knowing exactly what your limits are, and instead of being emo or pissy about those limits, just working to be the best you can inside the parameters you’ve been given. Real strength isn’t raw, brute power; strength is knowing exactly when and how to apply precisely the smallest amount of force needed to accomplish your goal. Yeah.

So, great characterization, if you ask me. I totally believed that Androl would be the guy all the other Asha’man would look to in the situation they’re in, so it all just worked wonderfully.

Aside from that, we’re of course being set up here for the Big Twist re: Taim’s Dreadlord Assembly Lines, but I also noticed the hints about some of Taim’s acolytes becoming way stronger than they should be, and I’m not sure what that’s about. Egwene’s experiences with the Seanchan taught us about “forcing” channelers to their full potential, but this seems like something different. I dunno, maybe it’s just as simple as Taim handing out angreal to his favorites so they can pretend to be stronger than they really are, but I get the feeling there’s more to it than that. Perhaps the 13×13 trick has other effects as well? *shrug*

Also, if I’m supposed to know where Logain is or what he’s been doing at this juncture, I am having a serious brain fart on that score. But I’m guessing we’re not supposed to know. I’m 95% certain that the last time we’ve seen Logain on screen was back in the TGS Prologue, in the immediate aftermath of Semirhage’s attack on Rand, and not since then. So presumably Logain is off doing something at Rand’s behest, but if it’s been indicated anywhere what that is, I sure don’t remember it.

(Actually, now that I look at it, I am totally unclear on how much time has elapsed between the TGS prologue and this chapter, because I don’t know if Androl is on Rand’s timeline, or on Perrin and Elayne’s, which is in the process throughout TOM of catching up to Rand’s. If the latter, then maybe Logain’s still with Rand’s party in Androl’s timeline and there is no mystery to it at all. Have I mentioned how frustrating it is not to have an unambiguous chronology of events in these latter two books?)

Well, whatever Logain’s doing, he’d better finish it and get back to Androl et al, like stat. You hear me, dude? Glory and (hopefully) M’Hael ass-kicking are on your To Do list marked “Urgent” and everything! So get on that, like pronto! Scoot!


Chapter 47: A Teaching Chamber

What Happens
Faile tries to contain her nervousness as she and Perrin Travel to Caemlyn to meet with the Queen of Andor, along with an honor guard from each contingent of their forces. She knows Perrin is concerned that Grady had tried to make a gateway to the Black Tower earlier and it had not worked. As they move through the city Faile is disconcerted to see the perfect circle of clear sky over it, and notes the growing amount of refuse and refugees in the streets. They reach the Palace and continue on with smaller contingents to the throne room, where an obviously pregnant Elayne awaits them in state, with Morgase at her side. Perrin bows, not too low, and Alliandre’s curtsey is deeper than Faile’s, by design. Elayne greets them, distinctly failing to grant any title to Perrin. She thanks them formally for the return of her mother, and asks if there is a boon they ask in return.

Obviously, Elayne expected them to ask for him to be named formally a lord. Or, perhaps, to ask forbearance for impersonating one, along with a formal pardon. Either direction could be a result of this conversation.

Faile was tempted to demand the first. It would be a simple answer. But perhaps too simple; there were things Faile had to know before they could proceed. “Your Majesty,” Faile said, carefully, “might we discuss this boon in a more intimate setting?”

Elayne grants the request, and Perrin, Faile and Alliandre follow Elayne and Morgase into a small sitting room, leaving the rest (including Grady) behind, despite Faile’s misgivings. She wonders whether the father of Elayne’s child could possibly be Rand himself.

“So,” Elayne said, “explain to me why I shouldn’t just execute you both as traitors.”

Faile blinked in surprise. Perrin, however, snorted. “I don’t think Rand would think very highly of that move.”

“I’m not beholden to him,” Elayne said. “You expect me to believe that he was behind you seducing my citizens and naming yourself a king?”

Faile counters that Perrin never named himself a king, and Elayne retorts that raising the flag of Manetheren contradicts that. Perrin asserts that he took that flag down. Elayne puts on what Faile considers a rather unsubtle show of Power in serving tea, and Alliandre opines that executing the Two Rivers’ leader would surely throw the region into rebellion. Elayne replies that they are already in rebellion as far as she is concerned, and reveals that her envoys have been turned away with the message “The lands of Lord Perrin Goldeneyes refuse your Andoran taxes. Tai’shar Manetheren!” This is a shock to Faile and Perrin, but she rallies by pointing out that the Two Rivers has hardly been a concern for Andor before now, and Perrin adds that most people there didn’t even know they were part of Andor before now, and further points out that when the region was attacked by Trollocs, Andor’s forces were nowhere to be found. Elayne hesitates.

“The Two Rivers has rediscovered its history,” Faile said carefully. “It couldn’t rest forever, not with Tarmon Gai’don looming. Not after sheltering the Dragon Reborn during his childhood. Part of me wonders if Manetheren had to fall, if the Two Rivers had to rise, to provide a place for Rand al’Thor to be raised. Among farmers with the blood—and obstinacy—of kings.”

Elayne offers them forgiveness for pretendership as their boon, but Perrin replies that the Two Rivers will have lords now. Elayne points out that recognizing Perrin’s title is tantamount to announcing that anyone who wants to can claim to be a lord, but Perrin replies that he will not step down. The situation is about to escalate when Morgase interjects to caution Elayne to step carefully when dealing with ta’veren.

“I’ve traveled with this man. I’ve seen the world bend around him; I’ve seen bitter enemies become his allies. To fight the Pattern itself is to try to move a mountain with a spoon.

[…] “Andor is strong, but I fear it could break itself against this man. He does not want your throne, I promise it, and the Two Rivers does need supervision. Would it be such a terrible thing to let them have the man they themselves have chosen?”

Elayne considers, and then asks what their demands would be. Faile counters with an offer, to suppress all ideas of Manetheren rising again. She points out that at this juncture civil war with Andor will benefit no one. She suggests making Perrin High Lord over the Two Rivers, ranking above other noble Houses in Andor but beneath the Queen. She also argues for tax exemption, to Elayne’s displeasure, arguing that the Two Rivers has been ignored by Andor for generations and this is simply maintaining the status quo.

“So nothing changes,” Faile said again. “Except that you gain a powerful province to the west. Perrin, as your ally and subject lord, will agree to marshal troops in your defense. He will also call up his sworn monarchs to your allegiance.”

Alliandre acknowledges her oath of fealty to Perrin. Faile points out that the Seanchan have forged a great pact of nations beneath them, as has Rand al’Thor, and that “Andor looks smaller by the hour.” She further points out that Faile herself provides a tie to the throne of Saldaea, Alliandre brings Ghealdan, and Berelain might be persuaded to bring in Mayene as well.

“We could create our own pact. Five nations, if you count the Two Rivers as one—six, if you do take the Sun Throne, as rumor claims you will. We are not the most powerful nations, but the many are stronger than the one. And you would be at our head.”

Elayne has concerns about how close in the line of succession Faile is for Saldaea, and Alliandre suggests splitting the inheritance between Faile and Perrin’s children, if it comes to that. Elayne is amenable, and also suggests that one of their offspring could marry into the Andoran royal line as well. Perrin will not promise it, saying he wants his children to make their own choices, but Faile says they could strongly encourage it. Elayne concedes the point, and moves on to the problem of reconciling the other Andoran nobles to the title of “High Lord.” Morgase suggests giving the Two Rivers to the Dragon Reborn, as payment for Andor’s debt to him, and appointing Perrin’s line as his stewards. Elayne is enthusiastic about the idea, adding that it will also give her a plausible excuse for the tax exemption. Faile isn’t thrilled by this, but Perrin thinks it sounds reasonable. Faile then asks whether Elayne knows what’s happening with Rand. Elayne calls him an “ox-brained lummox” for riling Egwene up; Faile is amazed by the revelation that Egwene is Amyrlin, and wonders why Perrin is not surprised.

“What’s he gone and done?” Perrin asked.

“He says he’s going to break the remaining seals of the Dark One’s prison,” Elayne said, frowning. “We’ll need to stop him, of course. Foolish plan. You could help with that. Egwene’s gathering a force to persuade him.”

“I think I could be of help,” Perrin said.

Faile asks if Elayne knows where Rand is, and Elayne replies that she knows where he’s going to be.

Fortuona Athaem Devi Paendrag enters the Teaching Chamber, where damane are trained/broken, and sits upon the throne. Beslan enters, with head shaved and nails lacquered but still dressed in Altaran clothing, and Fortuona reflects that she is surprised to learn that Beslan hasn’t plotted once to have her assassinated, whereas Captain-General Galgan had made obviously-meant-to-be-discovered inquiries as soon as he gained her favor for the successful assault on the White Tower.

In many ways, his careful maneuvering was more comforting to her than Beslan’s apparently unwavering loyalty. The first, she could anticipate. The second… well, she wasn’t certain what to make of it yet. Would Matrim be equally loyal? What would it be like, to have a Prince of the Ravens whom she did not have to plot against? It seemed almost a fantasy, the type of tale told to common children to make them dream of an impossible marriage.

The der’sul’dam Melitene steps forward with a damane named Suffa, whom she instructs to show the Empress “the Power of slicing the air.” To everyone’s horror, the damane speaks directly to Fortuona, claiming to be the Amyrlin Seat and offering to exchange ten or even twenty women to take her place if she is returned. Melitene shuts her up with great pain through the a’dam, and nervously apologizes to Fortuona for not having trained Suffa correctly. Fortuona lets it go, and Melitene eventually threatens and cajoles Suffa into doing her trick. A portal opens in the air to a forest glade.

Fortuona covered her own surprise. So it was true. Traveling wasn’t a myth or a rumor. It was real. This changed everything about the war.

Beslan is astonished, Galgan thoughtful. Fortuona wants to know if any of the marath’damane knew about the weapon used outside Ebou Dar, and Melitene says not. Galgan asks for permission to interrogate the damane Suffa about the parameters of this ability. Beslan points out how easy it would be to use these holes to attack within the walls of the palace, and Fortuona surmises that her sleeping chambers will soon be on rotation. She stands and announces that there are still hundreds of marath’damane in the White Tower, and they are the key to holding this land and to the Last Battle. She says that every damane in the land is to be brought back to the city to learn this Traveling.

“And then we will go, in force, to the White Tower. Before, we struck them with a pinprick. Now, we will let them know the full weight of our sword. All of the marath’damane must be leashed.”

Selucia points out to her that she cannot let word of their knowledge of Traveling spread, and also that the strike will need to be soon. Fortuona agrees, and thinks to herself that the White Tower is doomed.

Thom, Mat and Perrin sit in a private room in The Happy Throng Inn, catching each other up on what’s happened to them. Perrin teases Mat for being married to an Empress, and then asks about Verin’s note. Mat has no idea what it’s about, but refuses to open it until he “gets back.” They are interrupted by Grady, who does not appreciate Mat’s wit, and reminds Perrin that midnight is approaching. He leaves, and they discuss the bounties on Mat and Perrin’s heads. Perrin doesn’t see how he can keep a low profile at this point, and Thom tells a story about a tribe of savages who painted their leader red to make him easier for the enemy to find. Mat snorts and comments on how he’d go about using that to defeat them.

“Actually,” Thom said, taking a sip of his ale, “that’s exactly what Villiam Bloodletter did during his first, and last, battle with them. ‘The Song of a Hundred Days’ talks about it. Brilliant maneuver. I’m surprised you’ve heard of that song—it’s very obscure, and the battle happened so long ago, most history books don’t even remember it.”

For some reason, the comment made Mat smell nervous.

Thom suggests that Perrin use Grady to make gateways in his tent at night, so he can sleep elsewhere while leaving his tent boobytrapped for assassins. Mat then goes on to explain to Perrin why he needs a gateway, to rescue Moiraine from the Tower of Ghenjei. Mat is surprised to learn that Perrin knows of the tower, and explains that they think Moiraine is inside, being held by the snakes and foxes (“bloody cheats”). Perrin is confused, but offers to send one of the Asha’man with them, or go himself. Mat tells him about Moiraine’s letter, and how only three people can go. Perrin tells him he’s not making any sense, and Mat sighs and settles in to tell him the whole story.


A knock came at the door, then it creaked open, revealing the innkeeper, a younger man named Denezel. He was tall, with a lean face and a head he kept shaved. The man was all but Dragonsworn, from what Perrin had seen, even going so far as to have a portrait of Rand commissioned and hung in the common room. It wasn’t a bad likeness.


Sorry, I have to go laugh for two hours now, brb

Heh. I would try to pretend to be all jealous that Jason actually got a speaking role cameo (ooooooh!), but I’m too terribly amused to pull it off. I think I dropped the book on first reading at this point because I had to text him a million AHAHAHAHAHAs immediately. *snort, snicker*

By the way, in case it’s not completely obvious, I totally disagree with the opinion that the fan cameos Brandon’s been putting in are jarring, and I’m not just saying that because I got one. (*shakes spear* ha ha made a pun) If you weren’t in WOT fandom (and really, possibly even if you were) and just casually reading the series, there’s absolutely nothing in the above quoted paragraph that should jump out at you as unusual or out of place. It’s just an inside joke for those in a position to know (or care) what the reference is, and invisible to everyone else. No harm, no foul, and some extra fun for the hardcore fans.

It’s sort of like the sets for Star Trek: The Next Generation (which I got to look at once up close because I worked on Paramount’s lot once upon a time), which had all these little jokes worked into them where they would never be seen by the cameras but were there just for the cast and crew to enjoy. (The ones I remember are the rubber duck icon in Engineering, and a diagnostic in Sickbay that was labeled “Medical Insurance Remaining.” It was pretty cool.)

Anyway, Mat and Perrin. Who… talked in an inn. And… um. Set the next thing up?

Right, moving on!

As far as the scene with Elayne and Perrin goes, it was all fine except for the way Elayne kept casually referring to executing Perrin, which was just bullshit. It was bullshit in the first place because it was a straight-up lie—because there was absolutely no way she was really going to chop off the head of one of Rand’s closest childhood friends. I mean come on. And it was bullshit in the second place because it was bullshit to keep bringing it up when it was such bullshit. As the ancient proverb says, don’t write checks with your mouth that your ass can’t cash, Elayne. Sheesh. That’s just tacky.

Also, I think we’re supposed to be left with the impression that Perrin is all about supporting Elayne and Egwene in stopping Rand with his seal-breaking plan, but while I could of course be wrong I also totally call bullshit on that too. At least, I would like to think that Perrin will not be going along with the Supergirls’ totally non-inflammatory-oh-yeah-sure plan to confront Rand at Merrilor, because really.

Other than that, I liked the negotiating back and forth re: the disposition of the Two Rivers, but am probably most amused that if you look at the scene, it’s really Alliandre and Morgase who brokered all the key points in the deal. Also, I guess we’d better hope Perrin’s got good swimmers, because he’s now basically on contract to come up with at least three offspring to distribute among this new alliance. No pressure, dude!

As for Fortuona and Suffa:

*headdesk* *headdesk* *headdesk* *headdesk*

First of all, GOD. Why couldn’t Elaida have gotten herself decently killed in the raid and put us all out of her misery? WHYYYYYY. I ask for so little, really, WHY DO YOU DENY ME.

Bah. Although I suppose it really was inevitable that the Seanchan would get hold of Traveling anyway. And also, I suppose, it’s really Beonin I should be wanting to kick in the teeth, for being an idiot traitor and teaching Elaida Traveling in the first place. Urg, so much idiocy, so little time for proper wedgies. Bah, I say!

Second of all, this:

[Fortuona] commonly came here, to watch the damane being worked or broken. It soothed her.

And this:

Damane were among the most important tools the Empire had, more valuable than horses or raken. You did not destroy a beast because it was slow to learn; you punished it until it learned.

And this:

She enjoyed breaking marath’damane as much as her brother Halvate had enjoyed training wild grolm.

Someone’s going to have to remind me why I don’t despise Tuon, because right now I’m having a really hard time remembering. Ick, y’all. Just—ick.

The Seanchan suck, the end.

Also, I was going to be all sneer-y about how Tuon thought the White Tower raid was a success when from our point of view they got their asses kicked, but on reflection Tuon’s actually perfectly correct: from her point of view, it really was a raging success. They set out to go rope themselves a bunch of marath’damane (ugh), and that’s exactly what they did. Not to mention, the coup of gaining Traveling, via fucking Suffa, is by itself enough to make the whole venture worth it regardless of the losses incurred. Dammit.

Well, let’s hope that the next time she tries invading the White Tower there is no ambiguity whatsoever over whose ass gets handed to them (i.e. Tuon’s), because I am officially Over this slavery crap. I know I’m probably not going to get my wish of having the Seanchan wiped off the map, and when I’m not feeling so ickified over the damane thing I’m sure I’ll remember why that would not be cool anyway, but right now… gah.

And I have now officially lost whatever dwindling amount of brain I still possess, so we’re stopping here. Go vote if you’re a fellow American, and I’ll see you next week, same Bat time, same Bat channel!


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