What up, yo: it is time for a Wheel of Time Re-read!
Today’s post covers Chapters 14-15 of the Lord of Chaos, in which Dreams May Come. Heh. Heh heh heh.
Previous entries are here, and this and all other posts are rife with spoilers for all currently published novels in the Wheel of Time series. If you haven’t read, don’t read. For reals!
Oh, and uh, I kind of forgot to mention in the last entry that when Elayne and Nynaeve are wandering around the Tower in the Dreamworld, Elayne thinks she catches a glimpse of Egwene for a second. This turns out to be rather relevant to the beginning of the next chapter. So, yeah.
And that’s all the news that’s fit to print, ergo, we go!
Chapter 14: Dreams and Nightmares
Upon catching a glimpse of Elayne and Nynaeve in Tel’aran’rhiod, Egwene leaps out to the nowhere place in between, where people’s dreams appear as tiny lights. She has been avoiding everyone in the Dreamworld, even her friends, for her dreams made her think it would be a bad idea to show herself to them. She is frustrated by the subterfuge, for she knows enough to learn more on her own, but it would be so much faster if the Wise Ones would not insist that she was not yet ready.
What took her a month to master for herself, they could teach in a night, in an hour. When they decided she was ready. Never until then. It galled so, when all she wanted was to learn. To learn everything. Right now.
She sees several dreams she knows, including Rand’s warded dreams and Bair’s; she flees from Bair’s, though logically she knows that if the Wise One had noticed her it would have already been too late to run. She reflects that there have been far too many strange people in Tel’aran’rhiod lately, in particular a copper-skinned woman who must be using a ter’angreal from her misty appearance, and a sturdily pretty young woman who Egwene mentally refers to as “the determined woman”, who she thinks must be a dreamwalker from how solid she appears. Egwene isn’t sure whether they are Black Ajah, and doesn’t know what to make of the fact that neither of them are ageless, but decided the best thing to do was avoid them. She thinks she’s seen glimpses of Rand, Perrin, and even Lan in the Dreamworld, but is sure she’s imagining things.
She frowned—or would have, had she a face. One of those lights looked... not familiar; she did not know it. But it seemed to... attract her. Wherever her gaze shifted, it came back to that same sparkling pinpoint.
She returns to worrying about her problems, but then realizes that the spark is coming toward her. Alarmed, Egwene tries to get away, but it reaches her and sucks her in, and suddenly she finds herself chained to a column in a courtyard, with Gawyn coming toward her. Egwene tells herself firmly not to accept anything as real, but can’t imagine what Gawyn is about, imagining her held captive. Suddenly, Rand steps out of a ball of flame into the courtyard.
Only it hardly seemed Rand at all. The real Rand was of a height and size with Gawyn, but this image overtopped Gawyn by a head. The face was just vaguely Rand’s, coarser and harder than it should be, the cold face of a murderer. This man wore a sneer. “You will not have her,” he snarled.
“You will not keep her,” Gawyn replied calmly, and suddenly both men held swords.
Egwene decides it’s time to leave, but nothing happens. The two men fight, and it ends when Gawyn runs Rand through and then decapitates him; Egwene tries not to scream. Then her chains are gone and Gawyn is in front of her.
“I knew you would come,” she breathed, and gave a start. She was herself! She could not give in to this, not for a moment, or she would be well and truly trapped.
Gawyn picks her up and asks if she can forgive him for leaving her in danger so long, and the dream Egwene snuggles against him and coos while the real Egwene is reduced to being along for the ride. He carries her down a corridor and suddenly they are in a beautiful meadow. He lays her down on the grass and gives her a flowery speech about his feelings for her:
“When I think of you, there is no room for any other thought. Your perfume fills my brain and sets my blood afire. My heart pounds till I could not hear the world crack apart. You are my sun and my moon and my stars, my heaven and earth, more precious to me than, life or breath or—” Abruptly he stopped, grimacing. “You sound a fool,” he muttered to himself.
Egwene thinks it was rather nice, actually, if a bit over the top, but abruptly the scene rewinds and starts over, this time with Gawyn berating himself for feeling this way about her when Galad is sick with worry over her, but that isn’t right either, so he rewinds again while Egwene fights not to lose herself to the dream. He tells her he loves her, and has never said that to anyone else, and he is terrified, but wants to know if maybe she returns the feeling.
“You sweet idiot,” she laughed softly. “I love you.” I love you, echoed in the part of her that was really her. She felt the barrier vanishing, had a moment to realize she did not care, and then there was only one Egwene again, an Egwene who happily twined her arms around Gawyn’s neck.
Nynaeve is still awake, swaying with exhaustion and cursing mentally at Theodrin, when suddenly screams ring out across the town, waking Elayne. Then her bed moves, almost flinging her to the floor, and Nynaeve says it must be a bubble of evil; they have to wake everyone up before they get killed. She hurries into the next room, ducking a washbasin that come hurtling at her head, to find two of the occupants being choked by their own bedsheets. She and another woman named Satina try to get the sheets off of them, but to no avail; Nynaeve desperately tries to embrace saidar, but cannot. Then Elayne appears and yanks the sheets off with the Power, after which they become still. They help the wounded women outside; Salidar is bedlam, and Nynaeve is infuriated to see a man with his head smashed in.
People should die after a long life, in their own beds, surrounded by family and friends. Anything else was waste. Pure miserable waste!
“So you’ve found saidar tonight, Nynaeve. Good.”
Anaiya is there with two more Aes Sedai, another Accepted, and three novices, including Nicola. Anaiya tells Elayne and Nynaeve to open themselves to linking; Sammael will find that they are not helpless against him. Nynaeve tries to explain it is not Sammael, but Anaiya shuts her up and tells her to get on with it. It takes three tries to draw Nynaeve into the link, but is awed by the feeling once she is part of the circle; she can feel the other women’s emotions, and feels a great surge of sisterhood for them. One of the Aes Sedai (Ashmanaille) smiles at her, but Nicola is still cool and considering. Elayne joins much more easily, putting the a’dam bracelet in her pocket first; Nynaeve does not want to consider what might have happened if she’d still had it on when she entered the link.
Suddenly Nicola spoke, sounding half-asleep. “The lion sword, the dedicated spear, she who sees beyond. Three on the boat, and he who is dead yet lives. The great battle done, but the world not done with battle. The land divided by the return, and the guardians balance the servants. The future teeters on the edge of a blade.”
Anaiya stares at her, and asks what that was about, but Nicola does not seem to remember saying anything, and Anaiya dismisses it and moves them out. All over the town, people are being attacked by anything that can move, even their own clothes, all easily dealt with individually, but overwhelming in the sheer numbers; Nynaeve tries not to be frustrated. After an hour, things have finally settled, and Anaiya dissolves the link. Frowning, she mutters that this was not what she expected from the Forsaken. Nynaeve is so tired she can barely talk, but mumbles that it was not the Forsaken, it was a bubble of evil. Everyone stares at her, and Elayne quickly puts in that they’ve encountered one before, in Tear, and adds that if Sammael attacked them, he “wouldn’t toss sticks about”. Anaiya does not reply directly, but tells Nynaeve to go to bed before she falls over. Nynaeve begins to ask Anaiya if she and Elayne can talk to her about something they found, but Anaiya cuts her off, and Elayne shakes her head at her. Nynaeve sees Theodrin limping along, and stubbornly decides to obey Anaiya no matter what Theodrin thinks.
Oh, Gawyn. A Damsel in Distress scenario, really? For a woman who can bend you into a pretzel without even getting up first? Lord. I don’t know whether that’s irritating, pathetic, or kind of exasperatingly endearing. Probably all of the above.
As to the “I love you” exchange itself... um. On the one hand, the whole deliberate clichéd-ness of the scene and Gawyn re-shooting (so to speak) his declaration of love was actually rather fun and clever, but Egwene going from zero to MAH MAN!! in two seconds flat was – startling, to say the least.
I suppose the explanation is that she’s felt that way all along and just didn’t realize it until now? I guess? Either way, it gets a raised eyebrow from me. Enh. It’s better than her falling for Galad, anyway.
Random nitpick: Gawyn is as tall as Rand in real life? Really? That seems... wrong. Rand is supposed to be freakishly tall among non-Aiel; wouldn’t someone have commented if Gawyn were an equally unusual height? Wouldn’t Rand himself have commented on it when they met in TEOTW?
Dammit, this is going to bother me now. Okay, I just looked that scene up, and Rand describes Gawyn as being “a head taller” than Elayne, who he in turn describes as being “tall for a girl”. That’s vague enough that I guess Gawyn could be as tall as Rand, but I am for some reason virulently against anyone other than Aiel being as tall or taller than Rand. So I declare the mention of Gawyn’s height in this chapter a gaffe. BECAUSE I SAID SO, THAT’S WHY.
(Or, maybe Egwene just sees Gawyn as that tall, heh.)
Bubble of Evil: I just looked around at the room I’m typing this in to see how many things I could be attacked by if they all got animated by Teh Ebil, and all I have to say is my ass would be TOAST. It may be time for a garage sale.
Nicola: So, is being generally unlikable a prerequisite for the Foretelling Talent, or what? Well, Gitara Moroso seemed like an okay person, so maybe not, but jeez.
As for what her Foretelling means, it’s pretty obvious by this point, but here’s the FAQ’s writeup of it if you want. I always say, you can never go wrong with an Arthurian reference.
Chapter 15: A Pile of Sand
Egwene wakes up with a headache, as she always does after dreamwalking, ever since Lanfear’s attack in Cairhien. She remembers what had happened in Gawyn’s dream and blushes furiously. She’s too tired to get up, so she goes back to sleep and naturally dreams of Gawyn, but in her version he recites a lot more poetry.
Twice, right atop one another, she dreamed of taking him by the shoulders and trying to turn him to face the other way against his will. Once he brushed her hands away roughly; the other time, she was somehow stronger than he. The two blended together hazily. In another he began swinging a door closed on her, and she knew if that narrowing gap of light vanished, she was dead.
She has many more confusing dreams about Rand and Mat and Perrin and Aviendha and Min and Elayne, which upset her enough that her dreams turn to nightmares about being bound with an a’dam and Rand destroying Cairhien and the Wise Ones selling her “like an animal” to Shara, until she is woken by Cowinde, one of the gai’shain who has refused to put off the white when their time is up. Egwene tells Cowinde she doesn’t want any breakfast, which Amys overhears as she enters the tent, followed by Bair and Melaine. Melaine tells her if she will not eat, she will not get well enough to be let back into the Dreamworld. Amys comments that she tried to look in on Egwene’s dreams last night and could not; Egwene’s mouth goes dry, but fortunately they just think it means she was sleeping too poorly to dream.
Melaine frowned. Not at Egwene; at Cowinde, still kneeling with her head down. “There is a pile of sand near my tent,” she said with something near her old sharpness. “You will search it grain by grain until you find one red grain. If it is not the one I seek, you will have to begin again. Go now.” Cowinde merely bowed until her face touched the colorful carpets, then scampered out. Looking at Egwene, Melaine smiled pleasantly. “You seem surprised. If she will not do what is proper on her own, I will make her decide to do it. Since she claims to serve me yet, she is still my responsibility.”
The Wise Ones discuss the intractability of those like Cowinde; and Amys mutters that they “twist ji’e’toh beyond its meaning”. Egwene finds it interesting that though Rand’s flouting of tradition in revealing the true history of the Aiel is the cause of the gai’shain’s behavior (not to mention the siswai’aman and those taken by the bleakness), none of the Aiel seem to blame him for it (other than the Shaido). The Wise Ones have moved on to how much the Salidar Six are annoying them; Amys tells her Carlinya nearly accused them outright of holding Egwene prisoner, but Bair laughs and said it was worth it to see her try to get all the snakes out of her dress afterward. Melaine asks Egwene if her headaches have come back, and Egwene lies that they have not.
“How much longer do I have to stay out?” she asked. She hated lying to them, but she hated doing nothing even worse. The first ten days after Lanfear hit her with whatever that had been were bad enough; then she could not even think without her head splitting. Once she could, what her mother called “the itchy hands of idleness” had driven her into Tel’aran’rhiod behind the Wise Ones’ backs. You learned nothing resting.
The Wise Ones are noncommittal, and Egwene moves on to ask whether you can be pulled into another’s dream against your will. Amys says no, but Bair counters that if you try to watch the dream of someone who has strong emotions about you, or vice versa, you can be pulled in, and once in it is almost impossible to escape. Amys agrees.
“That is why no dreamwalker ever makes the mistake of trying to watch her husband’s dreams.” Melaine stared straight ahead, face darkening. “She does not make it twice anyway,” Amys added.
Bair and Amys tease Melaine a bit more, and Egwene asks, what if you don’t try to watch but still get pulled in? Bair says she’s heard that if the emotion is extremely strong, “love or hate so great it left room for nothing else”, then you can be pulled in just by noticing the other’s dream, but such a thing is very rare. Egwene fumbles for more questions to draw them away from the topic, though she still thinks about it herself, that what had happened meant Gawyn loved her so overwhelmingly, and that she loves him in return, though she had not been willing to admit it before.
The important thing now was that she knew the danger. She would be able to recognize Gawyn’s dreams the next time, and avoid them. If you really want to, that small voice whispered. She hoped the Wise Ones took the color rising in her cheeks for a healthy glow. She wished she knew what her own dreams meant. If they meant anything.
Yawning, Elayne joins the crowd of people in front of the Little Tower, where everyone is waiting to see Tarna’s departure. She catches sight of Leane in an alley with a strange man, no doubt one of her agents, and wonders again how Leane manages to pull off smiling like that without getting into trouble. Birgitte is in the crowd, too, for once without “that horrid Areina”, but Elayne is still grumpy with her for conniving to send Elayne to bed at dawn when there was still work to be done. Nynaeve joins her, yawning her head off.
There was some excuse for Birgitte—some, maybe; a little—but none for Nynaeve. Theodrin could not possibly expect her to have stayed awake after last night, and Elayne had heard Anaiya tell her to go to bed, yet there she was when Elayne came in, balancing herself on the stool despite its now crooked leg, head nodding every two minutes, muttering about showing Theodrin, showing everyone.
Through the a’dam bracelet, Elayne feels Moghedien’s smugness; she had spent the whole night and morning hiding under a bed, and not only hadn’t been touched by the bubble of evil, but had gotten out of all the clean-up work after as well. Siuan joins them, and Elayne asks what the casualty totals were; Siuan tells them seven died in the village and over a hundred in the army’s camps, with all those weapons around and no Aes Sedai to Heal immediately. Elayne asks anxiously about Bryne, but Siuan snorts derisively, as if anything could happen to “that man”. Nynaeve’s snarky comeback is ruined by another yawn, but she meets Siuan’s stare flatly, and Elayne wants her to tell what she’s learned. Siuan tries to browbeat her by bringing up what happens when Accepted pretend to be Aes Sedai, but Elayne is too tired to be scared, and tells her to spill, or she’ll “teach [Siuan] to sit up straight”.
Siuan’s eyes narrowed, and suddenly Elayne yelped, clapping a hand to her hip.
Siuan drew back the hand that had delivered the pinch without any try at stealth. “I don’t take well to threats, girl. You know as well as I do what Elaida said; you saw it before anyone here.”
“Come back; all is forgiven?” Nynaeve said incredulously.
“More or less. With a load of fish guts about the Tower needing to be whole more now than ever, and a bit of slippery eeling about no one needing to fear except those who ‘have placed themselves in true rebellion.’ The Light knows what that means. I don’t.”
Nynaeve mutters that she doesn’t understand why they’re asking for more time, and Siuan mutters about “weak-kneed fools”, with which Elayne agrees emphatically. Then six Sitters exit the Little Tower, escorting Tarna, who mounts her horse and rides off without another word. After she is gone, Romanda, a Yellow and the oldest Sitter in the Hall (pronouncement from the Hall are traditionally made by the oldest Sitter), climbs up on a cart and tells the crowd, basically, that they are not to worry; the Aes Sedai’s purpose in Salidar has not changed, so go about your business and the Light shine on everyone. Elayne deems the speech “a wagonload of nothing”. The crowd begins to break up; Siuan looks furious, but Nynaeve is already pushing toward the Little Tower, and Elayne follows instead of asking questions, anxious to keep Nynaeve from running her mouth off and ruining their chance to go to Ebou Dar. Nynaeve reaches Sheriam, Morvrin, and Carlinya, and tells them she wants to talk to them, alone. Elayne sighs, but Sheriam merely looks at her a moment before agreeing. They go to move inside, and are blocked temporarily by Romanda, who has a brief staring contest with Sheriam et al; she doesn’t move until they dip her slight curtsies. She sniffs and finally moves, and Elayne thinks that Romanda is one of those sisters who thinks the Salidar Six have far too much influence in the Hall. Once alone with them, Nynaeve explains about what they found. Sheriam asks if they’re sure, and when they answer in the affirmative, says very good; she will send a letter to Merilille (the Gray sister in Ebou Dar sent to garner support for the Salidar faction). Nynaeve bursts out that she’ll never find it, and Elayne quickly adds slightly more diplomatic support. Carlinya says flatly that Ebou Dar is no place for Accepted, and Morvrin agrees. Elayne points out that she is more qualified than anyone else in Salidar to locate ter’angreal, and she’s sure with Merilille’s guidance it will take no time at all.
It was an effort not to draw a deep breath. “In the meantime, you could send a message to one of Siuan’s eyes-and-ears in Caemlyn, so it will be there when Merana Sedai and the embassy arrive.”
“Why under the Light should we do that?” Morvrin rumbled.
“I thought Nynaeve told you, Aes Sedai. I’m not sure, but I think the bowl needs a man channeling too, to make it work.”
The others all gasp, including Nynaeve, though she covers it quickly before the Aes Sedai notice. This is a flat-out lie, of course, but Elayne think if they buy it, by the time she had “figured out” that a circle of only women would work as well, the rebels would be tied firmly to Rand. Sheriam finally says that’s as may be, but she and Nynaeve are still Accepted, and cannot go. Nynaeve proceeds to explode into a rant about how all they do is talk and sit around instead of doing anything.
Do you know why you sit and talk? I do! You’re afraid. Afraid of the Tower divided, afraid of Rand, the Forsaken, the Black Ajah. Last night Anaiya let slip that you had a plan ready in case one of the Forsaken attacked. All those circles linking, right on top of the bubble of evil—do you finally believe in that?—but all mismatched and most with more novices than Aes Sedai. Because only a few Aes Sedai knew beforehand. You think the Black Ajah’s right here in Salidar. You were afraid your plan might get back to Sammael, or one of the others. You don’t trust each other. You don’t trust anybody! Is that why you won’t send us to Ebou Dar? Do you think we’re Black Ajah, or we’ll run off to Rand, or... or...!” She trailed off in furious splutters and panting.
Elayne wonders whether to even bother trying to smooth that over, and then sees by their faces that Nynaeve is right; they are afraid. Carlinya asks coldly if they are quite finished. Much later, Elayne pulls her head out of the giant cookpot she’s scrubbing and berates Nynaeve for blowing up like that. Nynaeve points out that Elayne’s haughty speech telling them, essentially, to quit being cowards hadn’t helped either. Faolain interrupts them to taunt and be nasty and tell them to get back to work. Nynaeve apologizes, to Elayne’s surprise, and she returns in kind. She goes back to scrubbing, determined to get to Ebou Dar no matter what.
Sheriam turns from where she had been watching the girls, and says she regrets having to do that. Carlinya sneers and asks if Sheriam wants to tell two Accepted what “fewer than two dozen” Aes Sedai know, and Sheriam shuts her up with a glare.
“Those girls are right about one thing,” Morvrin said. “Al’Thor turns my bowels to water. What options are left to us with him?”
Sheriam was not sure they had not long since run out of options.
Sigh. Egwene, girl, I swear.
I don’t remember wanting to scold Egwene like this before. Maybe now that I’m older and wiser (*cough*) I have less sympathy with her burning need to jump in feet first for everything and to hell with the consequences. I don’t feel the need to condemn her for her recklessness, exactly, but it does make me sigh, when before I think I simply shared her frustration with the Wise Ones for holding her back.
Like the thing with the headaches. There comes a certain point in your life where you realize that no, actually you aren’t invincible, immortal, or infinitely repairable, and that inevitably changes the way you approach risk. This is not to say that you don’t take risks at all, but I for one have gotten a lot more selective about what is worth going out on a limb for. The days when I would ignore a cold in favor of working eighty-hour days until I developed full-blown pneumonia are long gone; these days, when I get sick, I stay home.
(Sadly, that is a true story. That same semester involved staying awake for six days in a row. During finals. I am sometimes amazed I survived college.)
But that’s the point; when I was twenty I knew intellectually that I could get sick or hurt, and I did get sick and hurt at various times, but I had a blithe confidence that whatever happened, I could always bounce back from it. And, well, I did, mostly, because I was young. As is Egwene – much more so than me in college, actually.
So to yell at her for not taking care of herself is pretty much an exercise in futility, really. Partially because she’s, you know, a fictional character who can’t hear you because she doesn’t exist, but also because she’s young, and she doesn’t get it.
Also, get off my lawn!
Annnyway. Egwene and Gawyn: So, not only is it True Love, but it’s A Love For The Ages type true love, huh? Hrm. I like the idea, but I really think this would have worked better with a little more lead-in and a little more time spent on it afterwards, you know? Although, presumably Egwene’s and Min’s “either-or” foretellings re: Gawyn are going to happen at SOME point, so maybe the payoff will be worth it.
As for the Salidar section, the chapter title is aptly chosen, representing as it does a fruitless, boring, repetitive task. I mean, this was deliberate, but it also WAS actually boring and repetitive, so I’m stuck in this kind of recursive mind-loop of “This sucks!” “But Jordan meant it to suck!” “But it sucks!” “Aaagh!”
Though Nynaeve’s rant at the Aes Sedai was rather cathartic. Until the pot-scrubbing, that is.
And… that’s all I got to say about that. I think things begin to happen soon, so yay. Enjoy your weekend, kiddies, and I’ll see you Monday!