Hey-hey, peoples: It’s a Wheel of Time Re-read, almost live! Hopefully your week has not been as eventful as mine.
Today’s entry covers Chapters 13 and 14 of New Spring, in which there are dresses and funerals and exodii, oh my!
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 13: Business in the City
Moiraine and Siuan eat dinner in the Aes Sedai hall, which is considerably more high-class than the Accepted’s, and return to the Blues’ quarters to meet with Eadyth, who gives each of them a letter-of-rights for a thousand in gold, their annual allowance. Siuan is shocked at the amount, but Moiraine knows that often enough the appearance of wealth is useful for making others decide you have power. Siuan deposits her allowance with the Tower, but Moiraine heads into the city to her banker, Mistress Dormaile, who greets Moiraine with warm congratulations on her promotion, and mentions that if Moiraine seeks more information, everything Mistress Dormaile knew was in the letter she sent. Moiraine freezes, and replies carefully that perhaps she should tell her again. Mistress Dormaile tells her a man with a scar on his face, calling himself Ries Gorthanes and purporting to be from the Tower Guard, came to her nine days ago; Moiraine recognizes neither the name nor the description. The man gave Mistress Dormaile a letter supposedly signed by the Amyrlin Seat, directing her to reveal the particulars of Moiraine’s finances to him, but Mistress Dormaile recognized it as a forgery and locked the man up; however, he escaped before he could be questioned.
The only reason the Tower would have held back Mistress Dormaile’s letter was that the Hall hoped to lull her into thinking they had decided against putting her on the Sun Throne. But they had made their first moves, or rather, since they would have been as careful as thieves trying to cut a well-guarded lady’s purse, many more than the first. Enough for someone to puzzle out their intention. Nothing else explained a Cairhienin trying to find out how she was dispersing money, and to whom. Oh, Light, they were going to do it before she knew what was happening, unless she found a way out.
She rewards Mistress Dormaile for her discretion, and gives her specific instructions before returning to the Tower and asking around for a good seamstress. The next day, she drags Siuan along with her to Tamore Alkohima’s establishment. She is only able to convince Siuan to pay for six new dresses, but Moiraine orders twenty, all in silk, knowing that the order will make the Tower think she is settled in Tar Valon. Siuan scandalizes Moiraine (and the seamstress) by demanding prices, and Moiraine hurriedly tries to educate her on the importance of not pissing off her dressmaker. Tamore’s revenge for making her wait is obvious in the fitting of Siuan’s dresses (snug) and the hue of Moiraine’s (pale), but Moiraine considers that it could have been worse. She tells Tamore that she wants five more riding dresses in the Cairhienin style, with six slashes on the breast, which is far fewer than Moiraine’s rank entitles her to.
“I would like them made last, if you please,” Moiraine told her. “And do not send them. Someone will pick them up.”
“I can promise you they will be last, Aes Sedai.”
Oh, yes; her first dresses were going to be pale. But the second part of her plan was accomplished. For the moment, she was as ready as she could be.
One thing that Jordan’s writing always makes me very glad of is that I never went into politics, because damn. Granted, American politics aren’t quite so literally cutthroat as WOT’s (at least as long as you don’t subscribe to the Tom Clancy version of them, anyway), but even aside from that, man if all the sneaking and subtext and subterfuge doesn’t just make me tired.
So apparently certain Cairhienin are not overly thrilled at the Tower’s plot to put an Aes Sedai and/or another Damodred on the throne! Let’s all try to contain our shock, shall we? Really, after Laman’s war-causing shenanigans and the historical precedent re: Aes Sedai queens, I almost can’t blame them.
I really do wonder how that’s going to work out for Elayne (and, probably, Nynaeve as well). Though I object in principle to saying someone can’t be queen (or king) because of an inborn trait they have no control over, I have to admit there’s a legitimate concern there when you consider the average life span of any given channeler. I mean, even an Oath-bonded channeler will live around three centuries, which is a damn long time if they also happen to be a sucky monarch, let’s just say.
I was going to say something here about being surprised, given the above, that the Illianers gave Rand the crown, but then I laughed, because of course no one expects Rand to live past the Last Battle. So actually it was a pretty smart move on their part: placate the scary Dragon man with the crown, and once he bites it, which should be Real Soon Now, select someone else, no big.
Assuming Illian’s still there after Armageddon, of course. It’s always something.
(Of course, the biggest oopsie would be if Rand lives. Hah.)
Anyway. There’s not a whole lot else in this chapter worth talking about. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t mind all the “domestic” detail in this chapter with the dresses and all; I actually found it rather pleasant and fun to read about. I just… don’t have anything of interest to say about it. Except that sneaky Moiraine is sneaky, even in her sartorial choices. Yay!
And, yeah. Onward!
Chapter 14: Changes
Moiraine and Siuan spend the following days being educated in the customs of the Blue Ajah, as well as the weaves not allowed for Accepted to learn, such as the Warder bond. Moiraine is startled at the complexity of the rivalries and alliances between the Ajahs, such as the centuries-old entrenched animosity between the Red and the Blue, and thinks the tangle makes Daes Dae’mar look like “child’s play.” Moiraine is also very interested in the fact that there are weaves known only to the Blue, and thinks of her own secret weave she had concealed from everyone; she wonders if Siuan has a secret weave, too, but does not ask. They also learn about the trick of ignoring the heat or cold, and Moiraine is irritated at how much more quickly Siuan picks it up. The Feast of Lights comes around, and though it is meant to be a joyous celebration, Moiraine is saddened to see how many unused chambers in the Tower have to be opened up to light candles in them.
Chambers unused for centuries. The White Tower was dwindling, and she could not see what was to be done about it. But then, if women who had worn the shawl two hundred years or more could find no solution, why should she be able to?
As she is “hiding,” Moiraine refuses all invitations to celebrations. Meanwhile, Siuan is not having a good time with Cetalia.
“Fish guts! She expects me to jump like a spawning redtail! I never jumped so fast when I was a – !” She gave a strangled grunt and her eyes popped as the First Oath clamped down. Coughing, her face turning pale, she pounded a fist on her chest.
Moiraine’s task of distributing the bounty is excruciatingly boring, and she becomes more resolved than ever to run if necessary. The day after the Feast of Lights, Ellid goes to be tested, and fails to emerge from the ter’angreal; Moiraine wears mourning ribbons for her. In the following days, Elaida avoids her and Siuan, and then returns to Andor, to Moiraine’s relief. She deepens her friendship with Anaiya and another Blue named Adine, and Leane’s friendship with her and Siuan both takes up right where it left off. Tamra’s five searchers eventually leave the Tower, and Moiraine is frustrated at not being allowed to participate. Siuan begins to grow interested in her job with Cetalia, and Anaiya and Kairen are vindicated when the pies Moiraine and Siuan make for Aeldra make her sick. Sheriam is tested and passes, and Siuan manages to steal the sixth kiss/pie, as Sheriam is a great cook. Siuan wants to bring Sheriam in on their hunt, but Moiraine eventually talks her out of it, citing Sheriam’s penchant for gossip.
Sisters began to talk of a resurgence in the Tower, with so many passing for the shawl in so short a time, and perhaps another one or two who might very soon. By custom, none spoke of Ellid, but Moiraine thought of her. One woman dead and three raised to the shawl in the space of two weeks, but the only novice to test for Accepted in that time had failed and been sent away, and not one name was added to the novice book, while above twenty novices too weak ever to reach the shawl were put out.
Those chambers would remain unused for centuries more at this rate. Until they were all unused. Siuan tried to soothe her, but how could she be happy when the White Tower was destined to become a monument to the dead?
Three days later, Ryma Galfrey (Yellow) enters the dining hall to announce that Tamra Ospenya has died in her sleep. Moiraine is stunned, and wonders what will happen to the search now. Then she is disgusted with herself, and as penance wears an inappropriately ornate dress to Tamra’s funeral. She weeps at the service, and burns the dress afterwards. Sierin Vayu is raised from the Gray to replace Tamra, and fails to grant the indulgences that are typical when a new Amyrlin is raised. She also fires every last male clerk in the Tower, supposedly for flirting with novices or Accepted, even those who were grandfathers or “had no liking for women at all.” Three sisters are exiled for a year, and two more are stretched on the triangle and birched. Oddly, both the new Mistress of Novices (Amira) and Sierin’s Keeper (Duhara) are from the Red; Moiraine doubts that Tamra’s searchers will report their findings to Sierin.
To Sierin, her own view of the law was the law, and without a shred of mercy to be found in it. Or in her.
Nevertheless, Moiraine goes to Sierin to ask to be relieved from her task of distributing the bounty. Sierin is annoyed that the bounty even exists, and grants her request, but then adds that they will have need of Moiraine soon anyway, and Moiraine’s heart sinks. She reports the conversation to Siuan, and Siuan asks what she will do.
“I am going for a ride. You know where I will be, in what order.”
Siuan’s breath caught. “The Light protect you,” she said after a moment.
Moiraine dresses in a dark hue, leaving her shawl behind, and hugs Siuan quickly before hurrying out, not wanting a long goodbye. She is stopped on the way by a suspicious Eadyth, and not-lies to her that she has no intention of crossing a bridge that day. She retrieves her horse and rides to Mistress Dormaile’s, who has several fat purses waiting for her, and then to Tamore’s to retrive the Cairhienin dresses of minor nobility she had commissioned.
Before leaving, Moiraine tucked her Great Serpent ring into her belt pouch. Her hand felt oddly naked without it, her finger itched for the small circle of gold, but too many in Tar Valon knew what it meant. For now, she truly must hide.
She heads to Northharbor and books passage on a ship named Bluewing. While boarding, she notices the dockmistress talking to a man on the wharf and pointing at her ship; she embraces saidar to see him more clearly, and realizes the man matches Mistress Dormaile’s description of the fake Tower Guard.
But how had he found her here, and why had he been searching? She could not think of a pleasant answer to either question, least of all the second. For someone who wanted to stop the Hall’s scheme, someone who wanted another House than Damodred on the Sun Throne, the easiest way would be the death of the Hall’s candidate.
The ship sets sail, and Moiraine knows she has now officially disobeyed a direct order from the Amyrlin Seat, plus she has a likely assassin on her trail; she thinks she should be frightened, but she only feels excitement.
They could not put her on the Sun Throne, now. By the time the Hall found her, another would be secure in it. And she was off to find the boy-child. She was off on an adventure as grand as any ever undertaken by an Aes Sedai.
Grand adventure? Honey, you have NO IDEA.
I don’t think it was made clear before New Spring how Moiraine didn’t so much leave the Tower as escape it. I’m not entirely clear on this, but I have to imagine that she never once came back in the intervening years between this moment and the start of TEOTW (or, actually, any point since then too), because even once Siuan was in charge I can’t imagine that Moiraine could have been let off with no consequences for being so blatantly mutinous.
*shrug* Though, who knows, maybe she could. Helps to have friends in high places, after all. Maybe Siuan purged the records, or something.
Still, I tend to doubt Jordan had worked out that Moiraine’s departure from the Tower was quite this insubordinate early on in the series, because otherwise I would have expected her appearance at Fal Dara in TGH to have been quite a bit more momentous to the other sisters there with Siuan, particularly Anaiya. But nothing is said or hinted about that at all that I can remember, so.
Also, as clever and sneaky as Moiraine’s plan is here, she’s still not quite at the top of her game yet. I mean, even I figured out that the assassin guy probably picked up her trail by having Mistress Dormaile’s place watched. Sharpen those skills, girl, you’ll need ‘em soon!
I was struck, here and earlier, at Moiraine’s frequent musings about the sadly dwindled state of the Tower. This has always been a feature of the descriptions of the Tower, how empty it is, but no other character that I recall has ever viewed it with the kind of near-alarm Moiraine does (at least not until Egwene gets back in there in TGS). It’s a sharp reminder that the Tower as presented, here and in the series proper, is actually not meant to be a good model of how things should be run. That it is, in fact, a deeply flawed and corrupted version of what it should be, even if most Aes Sedai don’t seem to realize it themselves. It’s odd that I tend to forget that, but I do, so it’s nice to be reminded of it here.
Tamra: Dude. I was kind of shocked at the abruptness of it, the announcement of her death, even though I knew it was coming. I found myself wanting to yell at them to do an autopsy, which is probably a sign I need to stop watching crime procedurals. But still, how could they have not been more suspicious that a young(ish), seemingly perfectly healthy woman just croaks in her sleep like that?
Also, Ryma Galfrey, crap. Her life is about to so completely suck it makes my heart hurt. Well, not for about twenty years, true, but still.
Sierin: Yikes. A veritable bundle of joy, that one. Also, that’s what the icon for this chapter means? I say again: yikes.
First Oath: Have we ever seen any other Aes Sedai get affected by violating the First Oath as strongly as Siuan does here? I guess it makes sense that we wouldn’t, since most Aes Sedai we see have had more than enough time to get used to just avoiding lying (well, blatant lying, anyway) altogether, and so avoid incurring the consequences.
The only other instance I can think of offhand, actually, is Ryma, once she is made (or, broken) into being the damane Pura; Suroth (or someone) comments at some point that they were unable to force her to say white is black no matter how badly she was punished. Though of course the cause and effect of “consequences” may be a tad bit reversed, there, so I don’t know that it actually counts.
It also makes me want to bash Suroth’s (or whoever’s) face in a little, but that’s another rant. Not that this is actually a rant, but you know what I mean. Hopefully.
Sheriam: Whew. Talk about dodging a bullet, eh? Several commenters have opined that Sheriam may not yet be Black at this point, and it’s perfectly possible she’s not, but even so it’s still a very good thing she wasn’t clued in to the whole Dragon Reborn hunt thing at this point, or ever.
Oh, yes, and there’s a mention of men who “don’t like women at all” in this chapter. Yay. Clap. Clap. Clap.
And that’s our show, y’all! Have a delightful weekend, and I’ll see you Tuesday!