The Wheel of Time Reread

The Wheel of Time Reread: A Memory of Light, Part 5

Hail, WOTers! I bring you, with probably more phlegm and mucus than is strictly sanitary, a Wheel of Time Re-read!

Today’s entry covers Chapter 2 of A Memory of Light, in which no one asks for permission for anything, and sometimes it’s awesome and sometimes it really isn’t.

I didn’t mean for this to be another one chapter post, but see above re: phlegm and mucus. Also, eye-watering, itching, and hacking up a lung or two, no big. So far 2013 is FIRED as far as my immune system is concerned.

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. The index for all things specifically related to the final novel in the series, A Memory of Light, is here.

This re-read post, and all posts henceforth, contain spoilers for the entire Wheel of Time series. If you haven’t read, read at your own risk.

And now, the post!

 

Chapter 2: The Choice of an Ajah

What Happens
Pevara sits alone with Androl, trying to pretend she is not terrified being among men who can channel. She comments that the rain does not seem natural, and she and Androl realize that the people walking past outside are ghosts. She thinks of the some forty villagers who had burst into flame for no reason some days earlier, and thinks that the world is unraveling. Turning to their more immediate problems, she points out to Androl that she is the only one left of the Aes Sedai in the Black Tower who has not been turned, and perhaps they can use that. Androl rejects the notion of using her as bait, opining they should sneak her out instead, and she replies that she is not a maiden in need of rescue. Androl counters that this is not her fight.

“Let me explain something to you, Asha’man,” Pevara said, leaning in. “This is my fight. If the Shadow takes this tower, it will mean terrible things for the Last Battle. I have accepted responsibility for you and yours; I will not turn away from it so easily.”

“You’ve ‘accepted responsibility’ for us? What does that mean?”

She says the Black Tower needs guidance, but Androl says she means they need corralling. He asks why the White Tower sent Red sisters to bond Asha’man, and Pevara answers that the Red Ajah is dedicated to dealing with men who can channel. Androl argues that the Red Ajah only exists to destroy them, but Pevara counters that the purpose of the Reds is to keep men who can channel from harming themselves or others.

“I would like to believe that, Pevara, but I’ve seen the way you and yours look at us. You see us as… as some stain that needs to be cleansed, or poison to be bottled.”

Pevara shook her head. “If what you say is true, and the Source is cleansed, then changes will come, Androl. The Red Ajah and the Asha’man will grow together in common purpose, over time. I’m willing to work with you now, here.”

“Contain us.”

“Guide you. Please. Trust me.”

Androl says he wishes he could believe her, as she does not seem like other Reds, who hate men (Pevara privately admits that many do, but sidesteps the accusation), but says he cannot believe she is truly their ally. Frustrated, Pevara tries to change the subject, but Androl challenges her to state that she doesn’t find him repulsive; cornered into a straight answer, Pevara admits that men who can channel do disturb her, and she thinks what they do is unnatural, but she insists that that does not mean she finds the men themselves “repulsive.”

“You are just a man trying to do your best, and I hardly think that is worthy of disgust. Either way, I am willing to look beyond my inhibitions in the name of common good.”

“That’s better than I could have expected, I suppose.” He looked back toward the rain-splattered windows. “The taint is cleansed. This isn’t unnatural any longer. I wish… I wish I could just show you, woman.”

He asks about these circles she mentioned, and she explains the basics to him, and also that in a circle with one man and one woman, he would have to lead. They try it, and Pevara has a moment of panic when it works. She fights it down when she senses that Androl is just as frightened, and tries to see if she can tell that saidin is clean, but the power is so foreign to her she cannot be sure. Androl is amazed at her strength compared to his, and wonders if he could break the block on gateways with it. Pevara grows nervous, and asks him to release her. Androl ignores her, using her saidar to move things in the room, and she cannot stop him. She panics, and he finally notices this and breaks the link. Without thinking, she lashes out, sending Androl to his knees, and afterwards realizes she has bonded him. Androl is incensed when he realizes what she’s done, and retaliates in turn, bonding her with the Asha’man version.

“You bonded me?” she said, horrified.

He groaned, rolling over. “You did it to me first.”

She realizes she can not only feel his emotions but even has an impression of his thoughts, and declares she will release her bond if he releases his, but Androl replies that he doesn’t know how to release his. They are interrupted then by Evin, who charges into the workshop to report that Welyn and his Aes Sedai Jenare are back, but they have been turned. Androl groans, because Welyn had been with Logain.

“[Logain] isn’t here,” Evin said, “but Androl, Welyn says Logain will come back soon—and that he’s met with Taim, and they have reconciled their differences. Welyn is promising that Logain will come tomorrow to prove it. Androl… that’s it. We have to admit it now. They have him.”

Pevara could feel Androl’s agreement, and his horror. It mirrored her own.

Aviendha silently sneaks into Elayne’s camp at Merrilor, easily avoiding the wetlander sentries and guards while contemplating what to do about the Aiel, and Rand. She reflects that the Aiel will need a purpose after Rand is done with them, but rejects the notion of returning to the Three-Fold Land, thinking that would only invite attack from the Seanchan. She remembers that in her vision, both the Seanchan and the Aiel had waited almost a generation before escalating to full war, and wonders why. She dodges the sentries outside Elayne’s tent and slips inside, where she sits and listens to Elayne argue with Lord Lir about the futility of trying to retake Caemlyn. Elayne declares that they will try and rescue any remaining refugees from the city, but that they will wait until the Trollocs eventually abandon the city before attempting to engage them.

“We will begin sending in scouts before the night is through, trying to find pens of civilians to save, and Aviendha, what in the name of a bloody goat’s left stone are you doing!

Aviendha looked up from trimming her fingernails with her second knife. Bloody goat’s left stone? That was a new one. Elayne always knew the most interesting curses.

The three High Seats at the table jumped up, scrambling, throwing down chairs and reaching for swords. Elayne sat in her place, eyes and mouth wide.

“It is a bad habit,” Aviendha admitted, slipping her knife back into her boot. “My nails were growing long, but I should not have done it in your tent, Elayne. I am sorry. I hope I did not offend.”

Elayne splutters at first, but then becomes extremely amused to realize Aviendha had snuck through her entire camp, into the command tent, and got within five feet of Elayne herself without anyone noticing. Elayne dismisses the very unnerved High Seats and embraces Aviendha warmly. Aviendha is uncertain as to whether she’s done something wrong, but Elayne just tells her she is “a gem.” She sobers, though, when Aviendha asks after Caemlyn, and tells her that it must have been an inside job, opening the Waygate to let the Trollocs in. Aviendha asks if her plan to starve the Trollocs out of the city means Elayne will attend Rand’s meeting tomorrow. Elayne confirms it, and adds that he’d better not give them “theatrics and stalling” while her city burns. A messenger brings a letter, which Elayne uses the Power to open; at Aviendha’s look, she sheepishly explains that now that she can use saidar reliably again she keeps finding excuses for it. The letter proves to be from Rand, and Elayne is both annoyed and amused by it.

“He insists that I return to Caemlyn to see to my people. He gives a dozen reasons why, going so far as to ‘release me from my obligation’ to meet with him tomorrow.”

“He should not be insisting on anything with you.”

“Particularly not so forcefully,” Elayne said. “Light, this is clever. He’s obviously trying to bully me into staying. There’s a touch of Daes Dae’mar in this.”

Elayne wonders why Rand wants her at the meeting so badly, and hopes it is not because he thinks her feelings for him will influence her. Aviendha says she must go to him that night, as there might not be another chance, which is part of why she came to Elayne. Elayne gives her blessing. Aviendha regrets that she does not have the time to get to know Min better as well, but thinks that Min feels better about her than she did, and asks Elayne to send for her so that all three of them may speak together. Elayne agrees.

Commentary
Re: the first half of this chapter, I didn’t buy for a moment that Logain had already been turned, but nevertheless: Dun!

So it’s always great fun, not, when you have two characters whom you like a great deal go and behave like utter boneheads. Case in point: Pevara and Androl. Like, seriously, guys. Seriously?

As I said in my initial review: no consent issues here! Of course, it’s a bit hard to decide where to lay the blame when (or so it seems to me) both parties are equally culpable. An argument can be made, of course, that it was more Pevara’s fault than Androl’s, because she did do the involuntary bonding first, but I tend to think that’s balanced by the fact that she knew her version of the bond could be undone, while Androl retaliated with no such knowledge, which is equally shitty if you ask me.

Whatever, you can certainly quibble about it if you want, but at the end of the day they were both giant idiots and that’s pretty much about the size of it, in my opinion. Which is actually strangely nice, in a way.

And what I mean by that is: one thing I definitely really enjoyed about the Pevara/Androl relationship is that throughout its evolution, it has always unquestionably been a relationship between equals. Far more so, in fact (or at least far more obviously so), than many of the other male/female relationships in the series, romantic or otherwise—and definitely more so than I think pretty much any of the Asha’man/Aes Sedai relationships thus far (with the dubious exception of Rand and Elayne, I suppose). There is the familiar dynamic of pushme/pullyou between them, but Androl and Pevara in particular seem to harbor a hell of a lot more mutual respect in the process than we generally have seen—or at least that’s how it seems to me.

Of course, there is the point that Androl and Pevara’s relationship has developed under circumstances completely unlike nearly every other relationship between Asha’man and Aes Sedai thus far. It’s entirely post-Cleansing, for one (and Pevara’s skepticism notwithstanding, that does make a difference), and it’s also past the point at which even the White Tower has basically given up pretending the Black Tower is not actually a real organization. By which I mean, by the time Androl and Pevara meet the Asha’man have gained both legitimacy as a political entity and (uneasy) respect as a fighting force to be reckoned with. Not to mention, there’s nothing like being thrown headfirst into a life-threatening crisis of conspiracy with someone to make each respective party shut up, get on with it, and quit sweating the small stuff.

And hey, involuntary telepathy helps too, it turns out!

Which isn’t to say it’s all smiles and roses, but part of that feeling of equality this relationship gives off is due to the fact that Androl and Pevara both seem to be very good at acknowledging their own prejudices to each other, even if they can’t (yet) argue each other out of those prejudices. Pevara’s statement, by the way, that she is trying to work past her own ingrained biases re: men channeling is about as mature a response as one can possibly hope for on the subject—especially given that, unlike so many other prejudices, Pevara’s actually has a basis in reality. Or at least it used to until very recently. (And, actually, kind of still does, when you consider that Androl and many other Asha’man are, technically, still insane.)

Speaking of which, the frustrating thing about Pevara and Androl’s argument about the Red Ajah is that they are not actually arguing about the same thing, though I don’t think either of them really realizes it. (People who have these kinds of arguments rarely do, in my experience.) Because while Pevara’s pro-Red arguments are perfectly valid based on the theory of the Red Ajah, Androl’s anti-Red arguments are based on how that theory works out in practice, which is to say, not all that closely to the theory.

This is the problem when your nice, shiny, smooth principles come in contact with the dirty, lumpy, jagged-edged world they have to live in. It ain’t generally pretty, is what I’m saying.

However, again they are at an impasse: Pevara is right that in the pre-Cleansing era, something like the Red Ajah was unavoidably needed, and Androl is right that their necessity did not prevent their work from corrupting them. But just because the ugly grimy practical world is going to inevitably ding up your glossy shiny theoretical paint job is not sufficient cause to say “fuck it” and have no principles at all, I suppose.

Which I think means I just made a basically pro-Red Ajah argument, sort of, so now I have to go lay down for a while.

Or, change the subject to Aviendha, who made me laugh aloud in this chapter. It’s been a while, I think, since we’ve gotten to see Aviendha be badass in and of herself; the Wayback Ter’angreal episode aside, she’s mostly spent the last couple of books doing pointless about-to-be-a-Wise-One chores and somewhat unrealistically managing to never be in the same room with Rand, or so it seems. So this was a nice reminder that girl’s got skillz.

Though I do think it is pretty damn foolish of Elayne to not have had any kind of ward around her tent, even one just to warn of an approach. Hello, have you not noticed what’s been happening to you for the past couple of years? Or what’s happening currently? It’s Apocalypse Now, honey! Paranoia, it’s a virtue, embrace it! Jeez.

That said, Elayne’s reaction to Aviendha’s stunt was priceless, so I’ll let it slide. And “a bloody goat’s left stone” is actually a pretty good epithet, if you ask me. Goats are automatically funny. Though I’m not sure if an actual direct reference to genitalia counts as cheating, in WOT profanity terms.

Aviendha’s thoughts on the Aiel-Seanchan conflict as predicted by her vision were interesting. I’m a bit fuzzy on whether this was clarified before we got to the Tuon portions of AMOL, but I think the inference that’s meant to be made is that in the vision timeline at least, the reason for the delay on the Seanchan side is that nothing happened until after Tuon died and a new Empress/Emperor was raised. Or is that only in the new timeline? I has a confuse. Well, whatever, I’ll come back to that.

Is it just me, or is Rand’s letter actually pretty simplistic by Daes Dae’mar standards? Plain old reverse psychology? I don’t know, that’s kind of basic stuff there. But then again, I guess it’s only amateur if you assume that Rand assumed that Elayne wouldn’t see through it. If you suppose that he knew she would see through it… well, in that case I’m not sure why he would have bothered, then. Maybe he actually knew that it would amuse her? *shrug*


And that’s what I got for this one, y’all. Send Claritin, and I’ll see you next Tuesday!

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