Well, fancy that: it’s a Wheel of Time Re-read! Unusual!
Today’s post covers Chapters 51-52 of Lord of Chaos, in which Galina did it, in the anteroom, with a box. AND LEIGH SMASH.
Previous entries are here. This and all prior posts contain spoilers for all currently published novels of the Wheel of Time series up to and including Knife of Dreams, so if you haven’t read, don’t read.
The Prologue of The Gathering Storm, “What the Storm Means,” is available for download here on Tor.com or at multiple online vendors. Chapter 1 is still available as well, and Chapter 2 is available in audio format. Please refrain from posting spoilers for either the Prologue or Chapters 1-2 in the posts for the Re-read, in order to protect those who have not yet read them, or do not intend to before the release of the entire book. Spoiler discussion is going on at the respective posts announcing the releases, linked above; please keep them there. Thanks.
And now, the post!
Chapter 51: The Taking
Rand suffers a teeth-grinding Sulin to dress him while Lews Therin cackles about killing Sammael and Demandred in his head, and asks if Min has arrived yet. Sulin doesn’t think he needs Min there, and Rand scowls and orders Sulin to run to the Wise Ones’ tents and get her, as he especially wants Min to view the Aes Sedai. As she curtsies and goes to leave, he asks Sulin how long; she knows what he means, and replies “Until my shame equals theirs”, and exits. Feeling pretty good, Rand goes to the anteroom, where Chiad (still uncertain about his status as Car’a’carn) soon enters to tell him the Aes Sedai are here. Rand tells her to send them in, and Coiren enters, followed by Galina, a raven-haired Aes Sedai he does not know, and then a dozen more women wrestling in two large chests. Some look at him, but most of them keep their heads down, Rand assumes in fear; he is disgusted that they really think they can buy him. Then Galina says it’s a pity his Green sister is not here today, and Rand reacts with shock, wondering how they could know about Alanna. Then he senses them embracing saidar, and infuriated, seizes saidin before an equally enraged Lews Therin can get to it, feeling contempt that they think they can do anything to him. Then, to his shock, he is cut off from the Source and bound with Air.
That shield made his eyes bulge; it was impossible. No three women could block him from the Source once he had taken hold of saidin, not unless they were as strong as Semirhage or Mesaana or... he reached for the Source, battered at that invisible stone wall, harder, harder. Lews Therin was snarling like a beast, battering, clawing frantically. One of them had to be able to reach saidin; one of them had to be able to break a buffer held by only three.
Then he sees that one of the serving women also has an ageless face, as Coiren tells him it is a pity it had to come to this, but it is obvious that he was only going to put them off, perhaps believing “those poor fools” rebelling against the Tower could help him. Rand sees now that only five of the “serving women” have young faces, and realizes they must all be Aes Sedai, fifteen all told. Lews Therin flees screaming, and Galina takes the Dragon Scepter from Rand’s hand, telling Coiren that the Red Ajah is in charge now, as agreed.
Handing the Dragon Scepter to the other black-haired woman in gray, she said, “Put this somewhere, Katerine. It might make an amusing souvenir for the Amyrlin.”
Red Ajah. Sweat oozed down Rand’s face. If only the Maidens outside would walk in now, Wise Ones, Sulin, anybody who could scream a warning, rouse the palace. Thirteen Aes Sedai, and Red Ajah in charge. Had he been able to open his mouth, he would have howled.
Bain hurriedly straightens from her crouch by the door, surprised that the Aes Sedai are leaving again so soon. Bain is still uncertain of what to think about the story the other Maidens had told her and Chiad about the Aes Sedai, but still feels guilt over the Aiel’s failure to serve them. One of the Aes Sedai stares her down, and informs her that “young Master al’Thor” seems to think he can come and go as he chooses, and they do not appreciate being walked out on; they will return if he does – maybe. Then she and the others leave, and Bain and Chiad hurry into Rand’s rooms.
Perrin demands of Nandera, what do you mean he’s gone? Nandera shrugs, though she smells irritated, and answers that Rand does that sometimes, leaving without telling the Maidens; she thought Perrin might know where he went. Perrin glances at Faile, who is steadfastly ignoring him by playing Stones with with Loial, and wishing he was wherever Rand is, sighs to Nandera that he has no idea.
Galina accompanies a serving woman with a tray to the cage in the basement where Rand is being held, and tells him she means him to arrive at the Tower in good health, so he will eat or else he will be fed. Rand doesn’t bother lunging for the opening again, but instead ignores her, turning his attention back to the shield blocking him from the Source, maintained by six Aes Sedai in chairs around the cage.
He reached, and felt at the invisible wall cutting him off from the Source, slid along it as though trying to find an edge. What he found was a place where the wall seemed to become six points; they stopped him as effectively, but they were six, not one, and definitely points.
He wonders how he could have forgotten Moiraine’s advice: trust no Aes Sedai, “not an inch, not a hair”, and hopes bleakly that a Wise One will somehow walk by the place he’s being held and wonder why so much saidar was being channeled inside. He thinks that the six points are soft somehow, and wishes Lews Therin would speak, but the voice is silent.
Sorilea hurries by the stone house where the Aes Sedai are staying, where as usual they are channeling constantly; she dismisses that in favor of increasing worry over Rand’s disappearance. Though he had a tendency to do that, as many men did, this time Min had disappeared as well, somewhere between the palace and the tents, and Sorilea does not like coincidences.
FLAMES. FLAMES, ON THE SIDE OF MY FACE.
Oh, man. I remember reading Rand’s capture the first time, and being so infuriated I almost yelled out loud at the book. And only nerds yell at books.
Anyway. LEIGH SMASH, frothing rage, et cetera. This is where the LOC train officially derails after threatening to do it for a good hundred pages, and I was Not A Happy Camper when it happened. It was sort of like how I felt about Alanna bonding Rand, except with the dial set at eleven.
I guess it has to be said, though, to be fair or something, that as nefarious kidnapping schemes go, this one is rather remarkably well thought out. Diabolical plotting, you’re... doing it pretty well, actually. Especially the way they used Rand’s own rep for flitting off at no notice to throw off suspicion. I always did say Alviarin is a first-class villain, better than most of the Forsaken if you ask me.
(Yeah, supposedly this whole thing is Mesaana’s handiwork, but c’mon, you know Alviarin did all the actual legwork. Mesaana was just the executive villain.)
The constantly channeling thing is also an especially clever touch, and one that I never guessed the significance of until Sorilea’s brief POV here. And then I was like, damn, that’s clever. CRAP.
And... that’s it, really. Onward!
Chapter 52: Weaves of the Power
Vanin enters the inn, where Mat is dicing with a number of locals and outlanders alike (and not doing very well, surprisingly), and tells him that “they” are out again, and Thom still doesn’t know how. Just after that, a blue-eyed outlander throws a winning toss, and Mat mutters that next the Daughter of the Nine Moons is going to show up to claim him. The blue-eyed man chokes on his drink, and Mat asks if he knows the name, but the man replies in a slurring accent that his drink went down the wrong pipe. He asks for the name again, but Mat just gathers up his coins and takes leave of the game politely, going over to where Mistress Anan is sitting with a pretty young woman in a dress with a red belt. Mistress Anan makes a comment about “Lord Cauthon’s” luck, and Mat accepts the title for once, since in Ebou Dar lords were only mostly challenged by other lords, and as far as Mat’s concerned it’s a question of math over principle; even so, he thinks that he’s already had to crack three heads in the last ten days. Olver pops up beside him, followed by Frielle (Setalle’s daughter), and demands to go horse-racing; Mat scowls at Nalesean, who had entered Olver in the horse races without telling Mat first. Frielle apologizes for letting Olver get away from her, and Mat tells her she can put Olver in a barrel if she has to. Olver shoots Mat a dirty look, then gives Frielle an “insolent grin he had picked up somewhere”, and tells her he will be quiet if he can look at her beautiful eyes, and all of the women laugh fondly.
Shaking his head, Mat started up the stairs. He had to speak to the boy. He could not just grin like that at every woman he saw. And telling a woman she had beautiful eyes! At his age! Mat did not know where Olver got it.
Upstairs, Nalesean tells Mat he will assemble the men; Mat endures Nerim’s mournful insistence that he change his coat and glum entreaties to “try not to get blood on it today”, and heads back out, leaving his spear behind. Outside, he looks up at the Palace, trying to figure out how the women had managed to get out every day without his men seeing them even though they had every exit covered, and decides they’re doing it purely to spite him. He announces they’ll check the Rahad today, which makes the Redarms uneasy; Vanin declares that “Lady Elayne” would never go anywhere like that, and Mat thinks he is beginning to despair of rescuing Vanin from her influence. He tells them he intends to find the women “if they’re hiding under a bed in the Pit of Doom”, and sets out.
Elayne stands in the Rahad with Birgitte, staring at a six-story building that might be the one they found in Tel’aran’rhiod (though Nynaeve insists it was five stories). Birgitte thinks they are attracting attention, but Elayne thinks that unlikely, with how well they are disguised, between the inverted Illusion weaves and the rough clothes Tylin had provided for them, but suggests they go in; they had given up trying to ask questions after almost getting into tavern brawls twice (Nynaeve had had to hit another woman with a stool). Elayne and Birgitte climb up the stairs, but quickly discover it is the wrong building, and barely get out without precipitating a fight. Elayne thinks she had been “an optimistic fool” to think they would find the bowl in ten days, and thinks that at least Adeleas and Vandene (whom they had seen several times in the Rahad as well) were having no better luck than they. They exit the building only to find a knife fight going on outside, which they are forced to watch, as leaving would attract undue attention. The smaller man wins, leaving the other bleeding on the street; Elayne instinctively moves to try to help him, but before she can do anything a woman in a red-belted dress appears. She stuffs some herbs in the wounded man’s mouth, and then Elayne sees her embrace saidar and weave Healing flows on him. She is very deft, but it is still too late, and the woman tells the victor of the duel he will have to go tell the loser’s wife he killed her husband; the winner acquiesces meekly, and everyone seems to be treating the woman with great respect. Elayne notices as the woman heads off that she is Domani, and wonders what on earth a Domani wilder is doing in the Rahad, but Birgitte firmly squashes any notion of following after her. Then she and Birgitte notice Nalesean and Mat entering the street, and Elayne thinks that Nalesean looks “every inch the Tairen lord”, grimacing and spoiling for a fight, while Mat looks completely at ease, and like he’d spent the night “crawling through taverns”, which Elayne thinks he probably had.
“It never struck me before,” Birgitte murmured, “but I think Mat is the more dangerous of those two. A N’Shar in Mameris. I wonder what they’re doing this side of the Eldar.”
Elayne stared at her. A what where? “They have probably drunk all the wine on the other side. Really, Birgitte, I do wish you’d keep your mind on what we are about.” This time she was not going to ask.
Elayne puts the men out of her mind, hoping they find the bowl today, since tomorrow she is supposed to be paired with Aviendha. She was beginning to like the Aiel woman, but Aviendha seemed to go out of her way to challenge Ebou Dari women into dueling, and actually seemed disappointed that men would not challenge her as well. She and Birgitte move on to the next building.
Egwene sits in Logain’s tent, along with the six sisters maintaining Logain’ shield. Egwene had tried suggesting that the shield be tied off, but the suggestion was met with shock; the tradition for shielding a man was six sisters maintaining it with all their strength, and that was that. Logain is incredulous that Egwene wants to know what he thinks of al’Thor’s amnesty, and Egwene replies that surely he must have an opinion, considering if he were there he would likely have a place of honor, and here he may be gentled at any moment. Logain asks quietly if they would really gentle him again after he’s done all they asked, and offered to swear any oath they required, and Egwene answers ambiguously that whatever happens, he can still serve. Logain starts to rise, snarling, and Egwene snares him with Air.
The flows held him there kneeling, but he seemed to ignore them. “You want to know what I think of al’Thor’s amnesty? I wish I were with him now! Burn you all! I have done everything you asked! The Light burn you all!”
“Be calm, Master Logain.” Egwene was surprised her voice came out so steady. Her heart was racing, though certainly not for fear of him. “I swear this to you. I will never harm you, nor allow you to be harmed by any who follow me if I can help it, unless you turn against us.”
But, she adds, the Hall will do as it decides. Logain has become calm, and she releases him and tells him she will return in a day or two to speak to him further on the matter, and leaves. The Warders outside bow to her, and she thinks that at least the Gaidin do not care how she was raised; to them, the Amyrlin is the Amyrlin. She walks through the camp, thinking of Talmanes’ forces camped ten miles away, and how the Band’s following them had served not only as a goad to keep the rebels moving, but as an incentive for local nobles to throw in their lot with Bryne’s army, though Egwene is not entirely comfortable with that last, since it is only after they swear that the nobles realize the rebels’ true target is Tar Valon, not an army of Dragonsworn.
Trapped into alliance they might have been, and into fealty of a sort, but they would be among the most fervent of her supporters. Their only way out of that trap with their necks intact was to see Egwene wearing the stole in Tar Valon.
Siuan and Leane were quite set up over it. Egwene was not certain how she felt. If there had been some way to remove Elaida without a drop of blood being shed, she would have leaped at it. She did not think there was, though.
That night Egwene meets Elayne and Nynaeve in Tel’aran’rhiod, and notes that Elayne is dressed in Ebou Dari fashion, with a small knife pendant necklace, the hilt “a mass of pearls and firedrops”. She asks after their progress, and concludes from their bright optimistic replies that they must be “beating their heads against a wall”. She considers aloud having them return to the rebels, but Elayne and Nynaeve strongly protest, and Elayne rather disingenuously tries to imply they are safe in Tarasin Palace all the time.
Her dress was different, the cut unaltered, but the material was coarse and worn. Nynaeve wore a near copy of it, except that her knife had no more than nine or ten glass beads on the hilt. Hardly clothes for any palace. Worse, she was trying to look innocent. Nynaeve had no practice at that.
Suddenly Elayne and Nynaeve become aware of what they are wearing, and blush furiously and change; Egwene is puzzled that it seems to be the knives that had truly shocked them. Egwene decides to let the whole thing go, and asks if they are making use of Mat; Elayne says they can’t let him get in their way, but assures Egwene if they do “anything dangerous” they will be sure to use Mat and his men as protection, and Nynaeve assures Egwene that she hasn’t said a cross word to him since they arrived in the city. Elayne asks if the dreamwalkers were able to help with their problem. Egwene thinks the meeting with Bair and Melaine had been odd, since she hadn’t told them she was Amyrlin for fear they wouldn’t believe her, although one good thing was Melaine, who was so pleased about having twin daughters she forgave Egwene her toh immediately, and promised to name one of them after Egwene. Egwene tells Elayne that according to Bair, they had never heard of anyone finding something with need after they had already found it; Elayne sighs, and says they’ll have to do it the old-fashioned way, then. She asks if they said anything about Rand, and Egwene says according to them Rand is “lolling about” in Cairhien; she does not tell them about the many uncomplimentary things Bair and Melaine had to say about Aes Sedai, but thinks Merana may have blundered badly. She tells them about Perrin’s marriage to Faile, which pleases Nynaeve, but Elayne sounds rather doubtful in wishing them happiness.
Elayne bit her underlip. “Egwene, would you pass a... a message to the Wise Ones for Min? Tell her...” She hesitated, chewing her lip in thought. “Tell her I hope she can come to like Aviendha as much as she likes me. I know that sounds odd,” she laughed. “It’s a private matter between us.” Nynaeve looked at Elayne as oddly as Egwene knew she herself was.
“I will, of course. I don’t mean to talk with them again for some time, though.” There was not much point when they were as uncommunicative concerning Rand as they were. And as hostile toward Aes Sedai.
Elayne is airily dismissive, saying it’s not that important, and soon leaves, pleading exhaustion, but Nynaeve stays behind long enough to ask softly if Egwene has heard anything about Lan. Egwene says regretfully she hasn’t, but she’s sure Lan is still alive, and still loves Nynaeve.
“Of course he is alive,” Nynaeve said firmly. “I won’t allow anything else. I mean to make him mine. He is mine, and I won’t let him be dead.”
Egwene wakes in her tent to find Siuan there, who tells her it’s done; the sisters on duty at midnight will have “mint” tea brought to them. Egwene wonders aloud if she is doing the right thing, and Siuan says don’t ask her, she would never help “that man” escape if it were up to her. Egwene answers that she will not countenance murder, which is what Delana has been hinting at, and otherwise the Hall will decide to gentle Logain sooner or later, and she can’t allow that either.
“If Merana really has put Rand’s back up somehow, that will be tossing fat-wood in the fire. I just wish I could be sure he will go to Rand and join him instead of running off the Light knows where, doing the Light knows what. At least that way there might be some way to control what he does.” She heard Siuan shift in the darkness.
“I always thought the stole weighed about as much as three good men,” Siuan said quietly. “The Amyrlin has few easy decisions to make, and fewer where she can be sure. Do what you must, and pay the price if you’re wrong. Sometimes if you are right, too.”
Egwene remarks she’s heard that before, and tells Siuan to make sure he doesn’t hurt anyone leaving.
Nisao tells Myrelle that “this” is terrible, and enough to condemn them both to exile if it’s ever discovered; Myrelle grimaces and ignores her, knowing Nisao will not pass up this chance to further her studies of sicknesses of the mind. She can feel him coming closer, and feels his wounds.
She had felt his journey in distance and blood; his blood. Across Cairhien and Andor, Murandy and now Altara, through lands infested with rebels and rogues, bandits and Dragonsworn, focused on her like an arrow speeding to the target, carving his way through any armed man who stood in his path. Even he could not do that unharmed. She toted up his injuries in her mind, and wondered that he was still alive.
A rider appears and stops a ways off, and he says to Myrelle that she shouldn’t have sent Nuhel and Croi out to find him, as he almost killed them before he recognized them. Myrelle calls to him to come to her, and when he doesn’t move, weaves Spirit and touches “the part of him that contained her bond”, and repeats herself, and he comes forward.
Then he was standing in front of her, standing over her, and as she stared up into Lan Mandragoran’s cold blue eyes, she saw death. The Light help her. How was she ever to keep him alive long enough?
This is the chapter I mentally referred to as “the infuriating non-kidnapping intervening crap I barely skimmed because I was so anxious to get back to Rand” chapter. Catchy, ain’t it?
But, yeah. It’s a shame for my first-time-WOT-reading self, because there’s actually some fairly interesting stuff here. I was just in no mood for anything but getting to the part where Rand is rescued/escapes/whatever. (And I remember thinking, oh, if Jordan ends this giant-ass book with Rand still in captivity I will LOSE MY SHIT. Fortunately for all in my vicinity at the time, that was not the case, and ergo no fecal misplacement was necessary. And we are all very, very glad, aren’t we.)
Anyway. I think we might all have to be jealous of Olver, for getting such first-class training in Lovable Scoundrel School so early. He’s like a wee little Han Solo! And Mat’s cluelessness over it may be a tad overplayed to me now, but at the time I found it deliciously amusing.
I never noticed before now that Setalle is totally having a chat with one of the Kin in this chapter. Although, at least I wasn’t oblivious enough to miss Mat rather neatly sealing his fate by blabbing about the Daughter of the Nine Moons to a Seanchan spy. Nicely done, that, by Jordan I mean.
Also, this is totally minor, but even though it’s something of a cliché I’ve always loved the “unflappable manservant” trope, here embodied by Nerim. Their personalities vary in the specifics from incarnation to incarnation, but there’s always that same imperturbable mien, calmly cleaning bloodstains from clothing and making sure
Batman the hero remembers to eat and wear fresh underwear and all, and it always makes for a great Odd Couple dynamic. Egwene has one too, in Chesa, and Perrin sort of acquires one later on in Balwer (though not with the clean underwear part, admittedly). In fact I now suddenly have a theory that part of Rand’s problem is that he never got an Alfred. All heroes should have an Alfred, it’s a rule!
Elayne: Bowl, searching, blah. The only interesting part of her POV is how she is so firmly entrenched in her view of Mat as a wastrel that she doesn’t even register Birgitte’s (awesome) observation that Mat is dangerous. Although her quip about the wine was actually pretty funny, to me anyway.
Oh, but the marriage knives thing for her and Nynaeve in the Dreamworld was hilarious. “Only” nine or ten kids, Nynaeve, really? And Elayne! Quite reproductively ambitious, our Supergirls are! Of course, given how long they’ll both be of childbearing age it’s not like it isn’t doable, so there’s that, I guess.
(In case this is making zero sense to you: marriage knives in Ebou Dar indicate the number of children a woman has with jewels set into the hilt, remember?)
Egwene: Gets total Awesome points here for letting Logain go. She even did it for the right reasons. And though ultimately this frees up Halima to work her migraining mojo on Egwene, that would have happened eventually anyway; the difference is Logain didn’t have to get killed first. So, yay for that. (Again, still not sure why I like Logain so much, but there you are; I was very happy that he got to go free.)
And incidentally we also get some proof here (in hindsight) that not all Aes Sedai traditions are stupid – at least not the ones concerning how to hold channeling men captive. There’s some irony there, if you think about it.
Also, hi, Lan! Thanks for precipitating six hundred flamewars about whether “bond-compelling” is the same thing as Compulsion, that was fun!
Don’t look at me, I’m merely a humble butler. I buttle, sir. I keep everything – tidy. And if you wear your clean clothes and eat your greens, I’ll be happy to provide you with a freshly pressed post this Friday, sir. Pleasure to serve, sir. Wipe your chin, sir. Yes, that’s nice, very good, sir. Good night, sir.