Well, hey-hey, gurlz and boiz. Welcome to another Wheel of Time Re-read!
Today’s entry covers Chapters 23 and 24 of New Spring, in which you can Phear my Phrench, for Reals. (No, really. Fear it.)
Also, just so you know, moving across the country SUCKS HAIRY BALLS. If that offends you, well, good, you kind of know how I feel right now. If it makes any difference to you, I am currently typing this while sitting on the hardwood floor of a completely empty apartment. This is more fun than my lower back can POSSIBLY STAND, y’all. Ugh.
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, including the newest release, Towers of Midnight.
This re-read post contains spoilers for all currently published Wheel of Time novels, up to and including Book 13, Towers of Midnight. If you haven’t read, read at your own risk.
And now, the post!
Chapter 23: The Evening Star
Moiraine smiles as Lan gallops away, pleased that she apparently made an impression, and heads to the roughest area of the city, as she figures Siuan’s parsimonious ways will lead her to get a room at the cheapest inn possible. At the first inn she tries, a woman tries to steal her horse, and insults Moiraine when she catches her at it; Moiraine retaliates by whacking her with Air as she stomps off. At the third inn, the innkeeper lies that a blue-eyed Tairen woman is staying there, and then tries to drug her with doctored wine.
Embracing the Source, she wove Spirit in one of the Blue's secret weaves and touched the innkeeper with it. Slight anticipation became definite unease. “Are you certain the young woman meets my description exactly?” she asked, and tightened the weave a fraction. Sweat appeared on Mistress Satarov's forehead. “Are you absolutely certain?” Another tightening, and a edge of fear appeared in the woman's eyes.
“Come to think, she doesn't have blue eyes at that. And… And she left this morning, come to think.”
Moiraine asks the woman how many travelers she’s tried to drug this way, and forces her to drink it herself. The innkeeper tries to hide before the drug takes effect, but passes out in the common room; Moiraine leaves her to her fate at the hands of her customers. The day continues like that, as she is offered drugged wine three more times and attacked by footpads twice; she drives off the latter with the fear-inducing weave she used on the innkeeper. Finally Siuan finds her on the street, amused at the assumptions she knew Moiraine made, and leads her to what Moiraine is surprised to find is a very respectable inn called The Evening Star. In her room, Siuan guesses that Averne Sahera isn’t the one they’re looking for, and reports that she’s found Ines Demain, the next name on their list, and her son seems like a very promising candidate, but Siuan can’t get to her, as she is a lady, and currently staying in the Aesdaishar Palace. Moiraine sighs that they’ll deal with that in the morning, and makes herself ask if Siuan’s heard anything more about the Black Ajah. In answer, Siuan tells her about a blacksmith who had become a motivational speaker for the poor recently, and died of a broken back a couple of days earlier.
“Siuan, what under the Light-?”
“Just listen, Moiraine. He collected a lot of silver himself, and it seems he was on his way to the guild house to turn in six or eight bags of it when he was killed. Fool was carrying it all by himself. The point is, there wasn't a bloody coin of it taken, Moiraine. And he didn't have a mark on him, aside from his broken back.”
Moiraine sees her point, but can’t fathom what connection a random blacksmith would have to the Black Ajah. Siuan doesn’t necessarily agree, but moves on to ask what Moiraine plans to do about the Lady Ines. Moiraine tells her, and then spends the rest of the night keeping Siuan from talking her out of it.
Whoa, wait, hang on there, missy. Fear-inducing weave? What?
Where did this come from? And why hasn’t Moiraine ever used it in the series proper? I’m trying to think of a reason that isn’t “because Jordan hadn’t thought of it till now,” and I’m drawing an unfortunate blank, since I can come up with half-a-dozen instances just off the top of my head where that would totally have come in handy in the main series. And yet, here we are. Enh.
And also, the whole thing with making the evil innkeeper drink the wine sounded awfully… Compulsion-y, to me. Which I am under the distinct impression is a big no-no for Lightside folk. Not to mention, it doesn’t even really make sense. How does making someone scared also make them have to do what you say?
Well, I guess maybe if the weave was making the woman scared of Moiraine specifically, instead of just general terror, maybe that would make her too frightened to disobey or whatever, but if so that is reeeeally skirting merrily close to a serious slippery slope there, if you ask me.
I mean, damn, talk about your gray areas. I’m not even sure, on reflection, that there is much difference between this, and Liandrin’s half-assed version of Compulsion, which if I recall correctly depends upon manipulating the subject’s emotions as well. Gray area? Hell.
Which would explain, actually, why the Blue Ajah would keep that particular weave a secret. It doesn’t explain, though, why we’ve never seen any other Blue sister, including Moiraine herself, use it before now. (Or, technically, “after now,” chronologically speaking, but you know what I mean.) I call shenanigans, personally.
Also, all that aside, Moiraine leaving that innkeeper unconscious on the floor like that was cold. I know the woman was a bad person who had probably killed lots of people, but wow. That may have been poetic justice, but I’m not sure that it was actually just.
Chapter 24: Making Use of Invisibility
Siuan still doesn’t like the idea the next morning, opining that Moiraine will be taking all the risks, but Moiraine doesn’t agree. She dresses in Cairhienin garb that advertises her true rank, and herds Siuan downstairs, where she hires a chair and armed guards from the innkeeper to visit a banker. They head to the bank, Siuan muttering about getting caught the whole way; Moiraine is worried about it too, but pretends otherwise. She withdraws a large amount of gold at the bank, and on the way back Siuan talks loudly enough about the Black Ajah being responsible for the blacksmith’s death to be overheard, to her embarrassment. They drop off most of the gold at the inn and take the rest to the best seamstress in the city (Silene Dorelmin), where Moiraine violates propriety by insisting that her order be ready in a day, which Silene does not care for at all.
Her voice became icy. “Impossible. At the end of the month, perhaps. Perhaps later. If I can find time at all. A great many ladies have ordered new gowns. The King of Malkier is visiting the Aesdaishar Palace.”
“The last King of Malkier died twenty-five years ago, Silene.” Taking up the fat purse, Moiraine upended it over the table in the measuring room, spilling out thirty gold crowns.
The money (and the threat to withhold the extra for delays) convinces Silene that maybe she can go faster than a month. They leave, Siuan still grumpy about the plan, and Moiraine grumpy that Silene thought she was stupid enough to believe her nonsense about the King of Malkier. Two days later, the Lady Moiraine Damodred arrives at the Palace with her maid “Suki,” and is admitted with all courtesy due her station. Once alone in their rooms, Siuan admits that Moiraine was right about her maid disguise making her invisible, but still thinks Moiraine is taking a ridiculous risk.
“I do not know why I must keep telling you. A royal palace is not an inn; 'You may call me Lady Alys' would satisfy no one, here. That is fact, not opinion. I must be myself. Suppose you make use of that invisibility and see what you can learn about the Lady Ines. I would be pleased if we leave as soon as possible.”
Tomorrow, that would be, without causing insult and talk. Siuan was right. Every eye in the palace would be on the outland noblewoman from the House that had started the Aiel War. Any Aes Sedai who came to the Aesdaishar would hear of her immediately, and any Aes Sedai who passed through Chachin might well come. And if this Gorthanes was still trying to find her, word of Moiraine Damodred in the Aesdaishar Palace would reach his ears all too soon. In her experience, palaces were riper for assassination than highways were. Siuan was right; she was standing on a pedestal like a target, and without a clue as to who might be an archer. Tomorrow, early.
Siuan goes out and soon returns with bad news: Lady Ines is in seclusion, mourning her husband, who “fell over dead in his breakfast porridge” ten days earlier. Moiraine opines that Ines will still see a sister, but Siuan is horrified at the notion of Moiraine outing herself both as a Damodred and an Aes Sedai. They are interrupted by a servant, who announces that the shatayan is here to escort the Lady Moiraine to Prince Brys. After the servant goes, Siuan tells Moiraine that a young footman in Ines’ entourage named Cal is hopefully waiting for “Suki,” and pushes her off to meet the prince.
GEE, I WONDER WHO THEY’LL RUN INTO ANY MINUTE NOW.
Moiraine has got some balls, y’all, for lack of a more gender-appropriate term, just hanging herself out there like she’s a logo for a certain megastore chain. (Pronounced “tar-ZHAY”, y’all. That’s French. *nods*)
Though I’m not sure whether I agree with her that there was no other way to get in there. I mean, whatever, it had to happen this way just so she could run into Lan again so he can be all “You!” and she can be all “YOU!”, and point in consternation and stuff. And plus this kind of Purloined Letter hiding-in-plain-sight cloak and dagger type stuff is always fun to read, so I’m not complaining, I just think Siuan probably has a point. If Elayne and Co. could figure out how to sneak into a Black-Ajah-infested Panarch’s Palace in Tarabon (avec bonus Forsaken-lurkage) without trading on her royal status, surely Moiraine and Siuan could do the same? Let’s think outside the box here, people!
(As an aside, people who unironically encourage you to “think outside the box” need to be smacked repeatedly. Just FYI.)
Anyway. I’m not sure whether the Lady Ines’ husband is meant to be a Black Ajah casualty or not (unlike the blacksmith, who totally is, get with it, Moiraine), because it’s mentioned that he was a great deal older than Ines, so I guess it’s perfectly possible he just keeled over from a heart attack or whatever. But you know what they say: once is happenstance, twice is coincidence, three times is a blood-soaked clandestine mass murder campaign. And we’re way past “three” by this point even only counting the deaths Siuan and Moiraine are aware of. So, as far as I am concerned the late Lord Demain goes in column C.
And, uh… that’s really all I have to say about this chapter, really.
So tune in next week, kids, when we polish off this puppy, and I am hopefully sitting in an actual chair. Ah, the things we take for granted, eh? Until then, ciao!