Good news, everyone! I’ve just invented a brand new Wheel of Time Re-read post!
Aaand now you’ll be hearing the rest of this entry in Professor Farnsworth’s voice, won’t you. WON’T YOU. Mwhahaha.
Ahem! Anyway. Today’s installment covers Chapters 32-33 of The Fires of Heaven, in which we encounter post-coital ambushes, acrimonious fashion disputes, and unexpected arts and crafts skills. Hooray!
Previous entries can be found here. Please note that this and all other posts contain spoilers for all currently published novels in the Wheel of Time series, so if you haven’t read, don’t read.
Which I think covers the basics, so happy Friday, and click the link for more!
Chapter 32: A Short Spear
As they prepare to leave, Rand and Aviendha have a short argument over how to divide the blankets, which Rand loses, but he notes that she had not sounded angry or insulted him this time.
Maybe something good besides a memory had come out of this. She can’t really mean never again. He suspected that she meant exactly that, though.
He opens up the igloo, and they are both surprised to see it is daylight outside. Rand falls over pushing the block of ice out, and sees a huge lizard-like shape flying overhead, with two people on its back. They are clearly looking for something, and Rand ducks back inside and tells Aviendha to leave the blankets behind. They head out, and Rand sees an ocean off to the east, which along with the snow confirms that they are nowhere near the lands they know. Aviendha is having trouble plowing through the snow with her skirts, and Rand picks her up and carries her, which she allows rather grumpily. He heads back to the clearing with the gateway, and sees four women on horseback and twenty footsoldiers between him and the gateway. Two of the women are wearing silver bracelets connected to collars on two gray-clad women standing beside them; Rand sees that and the lacquered, insectlike armor of the officer beside them, and realizes where they must be.
“The two women on leashes can channel,” he whispered. “Can you block them?” Hurriedly he added, “Don’t embrace the Source yet. They’re prisoners, but they still might warn the others, and even if they don’t, the women with the bracelets might be able to feel them sense you.”
She looked at him oddly, but wasted no time on foolish questions such as how he knew; they would come later, he knew. “The women with the bracelets can channel also,” she replied just as softly. “It feels very strange, though. Weak. As if they had never practiced it. I cannot see how that can be.”
He asks if she can shield all four, and she answers smugly that Egwene has been teaching her to handle several flows at once. Then she frowns, saying that will leave the rest for him to handle, and glares at him and tells him that she knows little of Healing. Rand can’t figure out why she’s angry all of a sudden, but assures her he will take care of the rest. He seizes saidin and touches her arm, and they both channel at once. The Seanchan cry out in shock and struggle against their bonds as Rand grabs Aviendha and drags her through the snow toward the gateway. As he gets closer, he sees with dismay that it is showing a blank grayness instead of the inside of his room, and he sees that the grayness is woven of saidin. He knows it might be a trap, perhaps set by Asmodean, but they cannot stay here. He looks at the immobilized Seanchan, and sees that one of the other two women has a raven and tower embroidered on her cloak, while the other is clearly of the Blood. Rand doesn’t care about them, but wants to save the damane if he can.
He put a hand to the collar of the nearest, and felt a jolt that nearly numbed his arm; for an instant the Void shifted, and saidin raged through him like the snowstorm a thousand-fold. The damane’s short yellow hair flailed as she convulsed at his touch, screaming, and the sul’dam connected to her gasped, face going white. Both would have fallen if not held by bonds of Air.
Rand tells Aviendha to try it, and she does so, without success; the damane wails in terror, crying to her sul’dam to “save Seri” from the marath’damane, and the other sul’dam suddenly tells the noblewoman, Lady Morsa, that “it is he”, and Morsa looks at Rand with an expression of horrified recognition. Rand looks at her and guesses she was at Falme.
“I was.” The noblewoman looked faint, but her slow, slurring voice was coolly imperious. “I saw you, and what you did.”
“Take a care I don’t do the same here. Give me no trouble, and I will leave you in peace.”
The woman with the raven on her cloak, Jalindin, cuts in, remarking that there have been rumors that the Ever Victorious Army “tasted defeat” at Falme. Morsa answers scathingly that Seekers should know when to keep silent; the Empress herself has forbidden talk of the Corenne until she calls it again, and Morsa asks if Jalindin would like to be “tongueless in the Tower of Ravens” for speaking of it. Rand listens, wishing he understood what they were talking about, but at least it seemed that their invasion had been called off for the moment. He sees that the gateway is getting narrower, and tells Aviendha to hurry; she answers that she is trying.
“You nearly killed the other two, and maybe yourself. I could feel the Power rushing into both of them wildly when you touched the other collar. So leave me to it, and if I can do it, I will.”
Morsa listens to this carefully and then gazes speculatively at the sul’dam, but Jalindin is still on Falme, and tells Morsa that the Seekers must know all that has occurred. Morsa snaps back that she forgets herself, but Jalindin retorts that she has put two of the Empress’s own children to the question; does Morsa really think she is immune? Morsa goes gray and tries to backtrack, but Jalindin arrests Morsa and the sul’dam and damane too. All the women, including Morsa, look sick with fear, but none protest. Jalindin turns to Rand and promises him he will be treated well if he surrenders to her; he cannot think that he will escape. He laughs at her, and sees that the gateway is narrower still; he tells Aviendha to leave the damane, they have to go. They jump through together, Rand releasing the weave on the Seanchan to hold himself ready in case the gray was a trap. Nothing happens when they go through, but Rand sees Asmodean in the room and slams a shield on him. He turns back to the gateway and realizes the grayness is hiding it from ordinary sight.
Without pause he slashed his weave, and suddenly the gateway appeared, a rapidly narrowing view of Seanchan, the Lady Morsa slumped in her saddle, Jalindin shouting orders. A green-and-white tasseled spear lanced through the opening, just before it snapped shut. Instinctively, Rand channeled Air to snatch the suddenly wobbling two-foot length of spear.
He examines the polished end of the spear where the gateway had sliced it, and is very glad he hadn’t tried to slash the weave before they jumped through. He remarks that it is a good thing the sul’dam didn’t recover in time, and Aviendha sniffs, as if she would leave them free; she tied their shields tight.
“They are your enemies, Rand al’Thor. Even the ones you called damane are faithful dogs who would have killed you rather than be free. You must be hard with your enemies, not soft.”
She was right, he thought, hefting the spear. He had left enemies behind that he might well have to face one day. He had to become harder. Or else he would be ground to flour before he ever reached Shayol Ghul.
She then promptly accuses him of ogling Morsa, and Rand is boggled, but only replies that he should have taken Morsa with them for questioning. He stops her from asking anything else, indicating Asmodean, and she remarks instead that it was clever of him to hide the gateway the way he did, otherwise a gai’shain might have found it, and next thing would have been a thousand Maidens marching through it to look for him. Asmodean pipes up and says that a gai’shain did come, but he told her that Rand and “the young lady” did not wish to be disturbed, and that she took it oddly.
“She laughed out loud and went running off. A few minutes later, there must have been twenty Far Dareis Mai beneath the window, shouting and beating their spears on their bucklers for a good hour or more. I must say, my Lord Dragon, some of the suggestions they called up startled even me.”
Rand felt his cheeks burning — it had happened on the other side of the bloody world, and still the Maidens knew! — but Aviendha only narrowed her eyes.
Aviendha is convinced it was her first-sister Niella, and is determined to welt her from top to bottom, but Rand stops her and says he wants to talk with Natael, and would she mind sleeping elsewhere for the rest of the night. She yanks her arm from his and leaves, slamming the door, and he wonders why she’s angry about that when she had said nothing more would happen between them. He turns to Asmodean and asks coldly why he never mentioned this trick of making things invisible to Rand. Asmodean replies uneasily that it’s just a matter of bending light; Rand had never asked about it, but he must believe that Asmodean has thrown in with him completely.
Licking his lips, he got up. As far as his knees. And began to babble. “I felt your weave — anybody within a mile could have felt it — I never saw anything like it — I didn’t know that anyone but Demandred could block a gateway that was closing, and maybe Semirhage — and Lews Therin — I felt it, and came, and a hard time I had getting past those Maidens — I used the same trick — you must know I am your man now. My Lord Dragon, I am your man.”
Disgusted, Rand tells him to get up, but lays the point of the Seanchan spear along his neck and tells him from now on, Asmodean is to tell him about two things he doesn’t ask about for every one he does. Asmodean stammers acquiescence, and Rand begins another lesson right then.
Yet another example of a chapter where the reveal (such as it is) is given away immediately by the icon, which I suspect is just to keep us all on our toes.
I could be wrong, but I think this just might be the first instance (in the 3rd Age) of a female channeler and male channeler working in concert together – I mean really working together, not just happening to be channeling at the same time. Considering that this is one of the central themes of the series, if I’m right about it being the first instance then it arrived with surprisingly little fanfare. I am divided in my own mind about whether this is a bad thing or not.
So Egwene never bothered to tell Aviendha about the Seanchan? I mean, if she didn’t want to talk about her time as a damane in Falme I understand, but the Seanchan in general never once came up? Huh.
Which leads me to further somewhat tangentially assume that no one has bothered to tell any of the Aiel about anything that happened at Falme, including Rand fighting Ba’alzamon in the sky. You’d think that would be the kind of thing someone would have brought up, but then again this is WOT, where no one tells anyone anything, so okay, I guess.
Some people seem to find the Seanchan fascinating, which I can understand, but personally I can’t bring myself to care about them too much; to me they’re basically a distraction from the real story in Randland proper. (So you can imagine my irritation when they reappeared in TPOD; yet another in a long list of reasons why that book is probably my least favorite of the series – yes, even beating out COT.)
The Jalindin/Morsa drama here left me rather cold, therefore. Yawn, don’t care. I’m also wondering what was the point of having Morsa get all suspicious about the sul’dams’ big secret, when evidently nothing came of it (probably because she ended up sans tongue in the Tower of Ravens. Fun!). I mean, I assume nothing came of it, since Tuon and everyone else in Corenne II: Electric Boogaloo seemed to have no clue about it as far as I can recall.
Aviendha had a sister there the whole time? Who knew? I also think this is pretty much the only time Niella is mentioned, ever. Guess they’re not close!
The Maidens: now, that’s just rude. I share their glee, to a certain extent, but I’m pretty sure Mad Passionate Sex is one sport that definitely does not require a cheering section.
I’m just... going to leave that line lying there. JUST FOR YOU. Here fishy fishy fishy...
Funny how everyone is telling Rand now that he has to be hard, when down the line they’ll be all, well Jeez, we didn’t mean like Wolverine’s knucklebones over here, dial it down, man! Decide what you want, WOT people! Sheesh.
Asmodean: I kind of love episodes like this, where Jordan reminds us that, while we have the advantage of being inside Rand’s head and therefore know that he’s secretly all squishy, to most of the other characters he is one goddamn scary dude, and getting more so as time goes on. This pleases my vicarious badass schadenfreude thingummy.
Chapter 33: A Question of Crimson
Nynaeve curses herself for a fool as she stands in front of a board blindfolded while Thom throws knives at her. She tries to keep from yelping as each one thunks in, and decides she’s going to kill Thom and Valan Luca, and maybe every other man she can find on sheer principle. When it’s over, she whips off the blindfold and stalks toward Luca, intending to give him a piece of her mind, but he immediately starts in complimenting her “magnificent bravery” and rose-like beauty and etc., and Nynaeve is reduced to replying that she is no braver than she has to be. Thom looks amused, and Luca starts trying to convince her to wear “that dress” and she refuses flatly, thinking that she is not about to wear something that red – and that revealing – in public. He inquires tenderly about her black eye.
It was his bad luck to choose that. He would have done better to continue trying to stuff her into that red dress. “I did not like the way it looked at me in the mirror this morning, so I bit it.”
Her flat tone and bared teeth made Luca snatch his hand back. From the wary gleam in his dark eyes, he suspected she might bite again.
Thom is trying desperately not to laugh, and Nynaeve is sure that he’s going to tell Luca what really happened as soon as she leaves, men being incurable gossips. She stalks off after chastising Thom about the bad light, and only afterwards realizes that she had implicitly agreed to actually go through with the act in front of an audience. She grumbles imprecations at Luca and everyone, and thinks about Elayne’s report from Egwene. Elayne was disturbed that there were Andormen in Cairhien fighting, but Nynaeve is more concerned with the news that Rand was summarily hanging anyone he caught stealing, killing, or pillaging. She thinks he used to be such a gentle boy, and the Waste had definitely changed him for the worse. She moves on to their own problems, and her frustration that she has been unable to remember the name of the town where the Blues were supposed to be gathering. The only good thing lately is that Elayne had finally stopped flirting with Thom, though she coolly implied that Nynaeve had designs on him when Nynaeve congratulated her on coming to her senses. Luca means to cross the Eldar into Ghealdan in the morning, to a town called Samara, and is incensed at the number of menageries that have already set up there, but Nynaeve is more worried about the fact that the Prophet is in Samara, though this side of the Eldar isn’t much better, with Whitecloaks everywhere. She curses Luca, and Galad, and Lan for not being there. Nynaeve stops by Aludra’s wagon, who notices her staring at Cerandin and comments that Cerandin is quite skilled with her hands and feet, isn’t she? Then she tells “Nana” to stop glaring, and to try out her new firesticks. Nynaeve is unenthused, as they will catch fire on anything, and she is just waiting for one of them to blow up and kill them all. She then runs into Juilin, who tells her he’s been into Samara, and Galad is there, along with a hundred other Whitecloaks.
She smiled at him, and he took another hasty step back, eyeing her wanly. Galad in Samara. That was all they needed. “You always bring such wonderful news, Juilin. We should have left you in Tanchico, or better, on the dock in Tear.” That was hardly fair. Better he told her of Galad than that she walked around a corner into the man. “Thank you, Juilin. At least we know to keep an eye out for him, now.” His nod was hardly a proper response to graciously offered thanks, and he hurried away, clapping his hat on, as if he expected her to hit him. Men had no manners.
She goes to the wagon; inside, Elayne hastily hides something under the pillow and exclaims over Nynaeve’s eye, asking what had happened. Nynaeve mutters that Cerandin hit her when she wasn’t looking, and tastes catsfern and mavinsleaf. She tells herself she was not avoiding going to the meetings with Egwene, and then takes a deep breath and tells Elayne the whole story, more or less: that she had tried to press Cerandin for more information on sul’dam and damane, and ended up in a tussle with the woman where she had come out decidedly the worst. She downplays the more embarrassing parts, and then changes the subject by pulling the blanket back to find that the thing Elayne had been examining was the a’dam they’d gotten from Cerandin. She wants to know why Elayne is fooling around with the filthy thing, and Elayne tells her excitedly that she thinks she can make one. Nynaeve is appalled; offended, Elayne tells her she doesn’t mean to make an a’dam, exactly, but it is a ter’angreal, and she has puzzled out how it works. It is like a forced link, which is why the sul’dam must also be a woman who can channel; she also thinks that the leash part isn’t necessary for it to work, only the collar and bracelet. Nynaeve still thinks it’s disgusting.
“Don’t you understand?” Elayne broke in, haughtiness all gone in excitement and fervor. She leaned forward to put a hand on Nynaeve’s knee, and her eyes shone, she was so delighted with herself. “It is a ter’angreal, Nynaeve. And I think I can make one.” She said each word slowly and deliberately, then laughed and rushed on. “If I can make this one, I can make others. Maybe I can even make angreal and sa’angreal. No one in the Tower has been able to do that in thousands of years!”
She reflects that she had never before thought of actually making something herself, but it would be a wonderful feeling to do so, and laments that they don’t even know a fraction of what the Forsaken do. Nynaeve thinks her interest in making things is very odd; she herself was only interested in Healing. She changes the subject again, telling Elayne the news about Galad being in Samara, and Elayne curses; she then forestalls a lecture about language from Nynaeve by asking what they are going to do. Nynaeve doesn’t think there is much more merit in staying in Amadicia than there is taking their chances in Samara, but Elayne thinks Samara is preferable, as she opines that Galad will never find them as long as they stay with the menagerie, since he thinks that putting animals in cages is cruel. Nynaeve thinks that the real reason is that Elayne is secretly dying to perform her highwalking act in front of an audience, and says that they should take the first boat they find large enough to carry them. Elayne points out it would be better if they knew where to go, first, and Nynaeve thinks she’s going to remember the name of that town if it kills her.
I really should be annoyed at Nynaeve. I know I should. I know that if I were actually with the menagerie, I would probably want to kill her, or at least cheer when Cerandin smacks her around. I should.
But dammit, I just can’t. She still completely cracks me up. There’s probably something wrong with me. Something about how if you’re following her mental thought processes the things she does make perfect sense, but from all the other characters’ perspectives she must come off as a part-time lunatic. I do feel kind of sorry for Juilin here, though.
I especially enjoyed the line about men being terrible gossips. The party line over here, of course, is that it is women who are the terrible gossips. So the reversal is nice for the cognitive dissonance, but the funniest part of it is that both stereotypes are true.
And here’s Aludra, who is one of those WOT characters who keeps popping up for no other reason than to remind you that they exist until it becomes time for them to become relevant. Which for Aludra ought to be Real Soon Now, I presume. She’s cannon!
(Okay, that was awful. I apologize.)
Elayne: Her sudden ability with ter’angreal is one of the few Magical Powers of the main cast that really struck me as contrived. It comes out of nowhere, for one thing; there is no indication of it earlier that I can recall. (If someone can prove me wrong on that I’d love to hear about it.) Which is most unlike Jordan, really, famous as he was for setting things up anywhere from one to six entire novels ahead of time. Secondly, it arrives out of nowhere at an extremely plot-convenient juncture, which is also jarring compared with how organic most of the plotting has felt up to this point.
Not to mention, it kind of feels like he was completing a china set, or something. All of the others in the two Super Trios have some special thing that sets them apart, even above and beyond channeling (for the girls and Rand): Mat has luck and memories, Perrin has the wolfbrother thing, Egwene is a Dreamer, Nynaeve is Uber-Healer Girl, and Rand is, well, duh.
Elayne was the only one of the bunch who didn’t have some special Thing. And now she does. Voila! (Enh.)
Galad: for some reason it absolutely tickles me that Galad, who would totally have been a Young Republican in our time in my opinion, is also a poster boy for PETA. I guess as long as the viewpoint is extreme it doesn’t matter which direction it goes, eh? Okay, I’m being unfair. But still, that’s really funny – mostly because I now have a mental image of him throwing paint at Kim Cattrall and screaming “FUR IS MURRRRRDERRRRR!”
My brain, ladies and gentlemen.
And on that note, we out! Have a spicy and trans fat-free weekend, everyone!