Chin up, Wilbur! It’s time for another Wheel of Time Re-read! Twinkle! Sparkle! Let a little sunshine in!
(Dakota Fanning, pfeh. Debbie Reynolds reprazent!)
Today’s post will be covering Chapter 28 of Lord of Chaos. I apologize for the truncatedness of the entry, but I realized too late that the two following chapters really need to go together. Fear not, your hearts will go on. I totally swear.
Previous entries are here. This and all prior posts contain spoilers for the novels of the Wheel of Time series up to Knife of Dreams, so if you haven’t read, don’t read.
And that’ll do me for the warnings portion, so let’s dig in, shall we?
Chapter 28: Letters
In an effort not to think about Lews Therin, Rand spends the rest of the day driving Berelain and Rhuarc to distraction, and shouts at Idrien, the Cairhien nobles, and even Amys and Sorilea. He sleeps badly that night, afraid that Lews Therin would try to take him over.
He had nearly finished shaving when he stopped, razor poised against his cheek, staring at himself in the mirror on the wall. Running. He had been sure it was the Forsaken he was running from in those dreams, or the Dark One, or Tarmon Gai’don, or maybe even Lews Therin. So full of himself; surely the Dragon Reborn would dream of being pursued by the Dark One. For all his protests that he was Rand al’Thor, it seemed that he could forget as easily as anyone else. Rand al’Thor had run away from Elayne, from his fear of loving Elayne, just as he had run from fear of loving Aviendha.
The mirror shattered, shards dropping into the porcelain washbasin. The pieces remaining in the frame cast back a fragmented image of his face.
Releasing saidin, he carefully scraped away the last bit of lather and folded the razor deliberately. No more running. He would do what he had to do, but no more running.
His Aiel guard catches his mood and stays silent; a servant brings him a letter she says is from the Sea Folk, but Rand only takes it without a word and Travels to Caemlyn, where Alanna’s presence in his head comes back full force. He knows she has been crying, but she stops as soon as he arrives. In his rooms, he surprises Aviendha unclothed, which infuriates her and confuses Rand; Nandera and Jalani find it all very amusing.
Death, Lews Therin whispered.
Rand forgot everything else. Death? What do you mean?
What kind of death? Rand demanded. What are you talking about?
Who are you? Where am I?
Rand felt as though a fist had clutched his throat. He had been sure, but . . . this was the first time Lews Therin had said anything to him, something clearly and plainly addressed to him. I am Rand al’Thor. You are inside my head.
Inside . . . ? No! I am myself! I am Lews Therin Telamon! I am meeeeeeeeee! The cry faded away into the distance.
Rand calls for him to come back, but there is no answer. Now clothed, Aviendha tells him angrily that he has toh to her for leaving without telling her, and instructs the Maidens that from now on they will tell her when Rand goes anywhere. Nandera agrees immediately, and they all look surprised that he even protests this. Reene Harfor enters to tell him that a fair number more of the Andoran nobles who had opposed Gaebril have arrived in the city, and to give him a letter from the Sea Folk Wavemistress he was supposed to have met the day before. Rand sighs; he had forgotten all about that. He reads both letters, the Cairhien one from Harine, and this one, from Zaida din Parede Blackwing; both are equally terse and pointed about his ignoring them. Rand thinks that nothing he had read in the Prophecies mentions the Sea Folk, and that maybe he could avoid getting them entangled with him and Tarmon Gai’don. Another servant has entered with a third letter, and sinks to her knees to offer it to him. Rand blinks, and then realizes with dismay that the servant is Sulin. He demands to know what she is doing, but she runs off without answering; Reene tells Nandera she knew this wouldn’t work, and stalks off muttering about crazy Aiel. Nandera explains to him, in a roundabout way, that Sulin is meeting her toh, and Rand abruptly recalls the conversation she and Sulin had had in the courtyard that day with the Ogier, and says it is his fault. They all stare at him.
The look Nandera shot at Aviendha could charitably be called disparaging. “If you stopped daydreaming about his eyebrows, you would teach him better.”
He asks if he doesn’t have toh toward Sulin for causing her to do what she did, which embarrasses them all even more, and Rand decides to shut up and read the letter Sulin had brought, which makes him smile, for it is a pledge of loyalty from Alliandre, Queen of Ghealdan, though not using her full name or title, and couched in very oblique terms that could be interpreted as just a fond letter to a friend. He is pleased that finally a ruler has come to him without him having to threaten them first. As he explains to Aviendha, he notices the door open and close but thinks nothing of it, but then suddenly realizes he is sensing filth in the room and wraps the Gray Man advancing on him in Air. But then the Gray Man is incinerated with Fire, killing him instantly, and Rand whirls to confront Taim, who is standing in the door to Rand’s bedroom. Rand demands to know why he killed the assassin when Rand already had him captured, and why he’s in Rand’s bedroom. Taim, seeming at ease, says he came by gateway because he thought Rand would want to hear the news immediately, about a young man he’s found named Jahar Narishma, who has the spark. He adds that he’s sorry he killed the Gray Man; he acted without thinking.
I must kill him, Lews Therin muttered, and the Power surged in Rand. Frozen, he struggled to push saidin away, and it was a struggle. Lews Therin was trying to hang on, trying to channel. Finally, slowly, the One Power faded like water draining from a hole in a bucket.
Why? he demanded. Why do you want to kill him? There was no answer, only mad laughter and weeping in the distance.
Shaken, Rand comments that the Gray Man must have been from Sammael, but Taim seems unsure. They discuss the difficulties of attacking Sammel on his home territory for a moment, then Rand dismisses Taim. Taim is displeased, and leaves without another word. Nandera and Jalani seem very uncomfortable, and Rand realizes they are ashamed for not noticing the Gray Man, so he tells them he doesn’t want word of Taim’s visit to get out, so they’d best not mention the whole episode to anyone. They look grateful, and murmur that they have toh to him, which is not exactly what Rand was going for, but it gives him an idea on how to deal with Sulin. He sends them out, and Aviendha tells him that he “shamed her to the bone” this morning, and lectures him on ji’e’toh.
He was sure this was not what she had meant when she said she had to talk with him, but he was enjoying looking into her eyes too much to wonder. Enjoying it. Bit by bit he chased down the pleasure her eyes gave him and crushed it until only a dull ache remained.
He thought he had hidden it, but his face must have changed. Aviendha slowly trailed off and stood there staring at him, breathing hard. With a visible effort she pulled her eyes away. “At least you understand now,” she muttered. “I must . . . I need to . . . so long as you understand.”
She leaves, and alone, Rand laughs softly to himself.
Padan Fain sits and admires the dagger from Shadar Logoth, annoyed when his pet Myrddraal breaks his concentration. He reflects that his link to al’Thor had changed recently, as if something had taken “partial possession” of him, and pushed away Fain in doing so, but dismisses this as unimportant. He is pleased with his encounters with Pedron Niall and Elaida, tainting them with the bit of Aridhol he carries with him, and thinks that they will never trust al’Thor now. A Darkfriend named Nan and her son Perwyn burst in, and Perwyn tells “Master Mordeth” that he has news: someone tried to kill the Dragon Reborn in his rooms, getting past his Aiel guards. Fain deduces this means a Gray Man, and therefore sent by one of the Chosen, and is enraged that they continually try to take his rightful task of killing al’Thor away from him.
All that rage had to go somewhere before he burst. Almost casually he brushed his hand across the boy’s face. The boy’s eyes bulged; he began trembling so hard his teeth rattled.
Fain did not really understand the tricks he could work. A bit of something from the Dark One, perhaps, a bit from Aridhol. It had been after there, after he stopped being just Padan Fain, that the ability began to manifest, slowly. All he knew was that he could do certain things now, as long as he could touch what he worked with.
Nan begs for mercy, but Fain ignores her while contemplating how best to hurt al’Thor. He rejects the notion of going after the gaggle of girls in Culain’s Hound, thinking that if al’Thor hadn’t cared if his home village was overrun with Trollocs, he wouldn’t care about the girls either. He reflects that his supply of onetime Whitecloaks has dwindled since his test of al’Thor’s defenses, and decides what he needs is to clear his mind, and that Nan would be just the distraction he needed.
Why was she struggling? He knew he was being charming. He was going to have to hurt her. It was all al’Thor’s fault.
Oh, good, Fain. He’s my FAVORITE. Fain + rape = EVEN AWESOMER. Blargh.
What exactly is this trick of his doing, I wonder? Jordan leaves it rather vague, other than to indicate that it’s really not fun for the recipient. Other than that, I have a typical lack of interest in Fain, except to observe that the whole “testing of Rand’s defenses” explanation of the Whitecloak attack seems a little weird and tacked-on to me for some reason, but I can’t pinpoint exactly why.
So, Lews Therin sensed the Gray Man’s approach? Interesting. Or, he was gibbering, and it was a coincidence. Not interesting. Opinions will undoubtedly differ as to what it means; for my own, I will achieve my weekly goal of annoying people by observing that Rand-with-Warder-bond is, after all, now doubly equipped to sense the presence of Shadowspawn.
(I’m actually a little unclear on whether Rand as a channeler is able to sense them all by himself; Moiraine indicated that she could sense Shadowspawn just by virtue of being Aes Sedai, but I don’t know if we’ve ever seen that male channelers can do the same, though I can’t imagine why they shouldn’t.)
This chapter is generally where we first see matters starting to slowly spin out of control, with Rand alienating his own allies, ignoring the Sea Folk, and disregarding the Black Tower. Things fall apart, the center cannot hold, blah blah blah Yeatscakes.
(As a random aside, I am continually annoyed that my favorite poems are so often the ones that have been overquoted into insensibility. I liked it before it was cool, dammit! ...Okay, maybe I haven’t been alive that long. Whatever. Grump.)
I understand Rand’s reasoning and time constraints re: ignoring the Asha’man, but still I consider it utter madness to not at least attempt to ride herd on Taim and be more personally involved in the Black Tower. To create a society of magic users which not only might all go collectively insane at any time, but whom have no reason for personal loyalty to anyone but the possibly evil megalomaniac you left in charge... yeesh. I’m just saying, this is not good management skills. To say the least.
Narishma: So, this mention of him is, I think, about the only indication we get that he is special enough to be the “one who follows after” with Callandor. It’s not much of an indicator, if you ask me. So he has the spark, big whoop. Yes, I know that generally means that he will be way powerful (every single one of our super-strong channelers in WOT have been sparkers), but I dunno, it seems like there should have been more... portent, there. Ah well.
Sulin: Ji’e’toh occasionally annoys the crap out of me, but I do have to congratulate Jordan on creating an honor system that, after enough immersion in it as a reader, I can generally immediately parse the whys and wherefores of it without it having to be explained that much. I love it when an imaginary culture comes together.
The parallel example of this that springs to mind is Lapine, the rabbits’ language Richard Adams created in Watership Down (one of my favorite books ever). Basically you spend the whole novel learning the language so that you can get to the part at the end where one rabbit tells another to “Silflay hraka, u embleer rah”, and laugh delightedly without even needing a translation. Heh. Still awesome.
This was a rather anthropomorphic animal-themed post, wasn’t it? I... don’t quite know how that happened. Oh well! Have a lovely Monday, and I’ll see you anon avec Moar!