Like sands through the hourglass, THESE are the Re-reads of our Wheel of Time! Organ suspense chord!
Today’s entry covers Chapters 1 and 2 of Knife of Dreams, in which All Is Revealed—except for all the things I actually wanted to know, of course. Crap.
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 1: When Last Sounds
Wheel, Ages, legend, myth, wind. The wind blows down from Dragonmount, wreaking havoc in the Rebel camp outside Tar Valon and waking Siuan Sanche for the second time in Bryne’s tent. She is exhausted, but after the terrible news from the harbors she now has hope again, and forces herself to get up. Bryne is not there, and she briefly wonders if he ran off at the news of Egwene’s capture, but then feels guilty at even entertaining the thought. She changes and heads out, briefly distracted to see that Bryne had blacked his own boots, which infuriates her.
The bloody man insisted she work off her debt, then sneaked in behind her back – or worse, under her nose while she slept – and blacked his own bloody boots! Gareth bloody Bryne treated her like a maidservant, never so much as tried to kiss her…!
She jerked upright, her mouth going taut as a mooring rope. Now where had that thought come from? No matter what Egwene claimed, she was not in love with Gareth bloody Bryne! She was not! She had too much work in front of her to get caught in that kind of foolishness.
She channels to take all the blacking off, and marches out of the tent, where she collars a soldier and orders him to get her a “mild” horse. He brings her his wife’s mount, and Siuan is not at all convinced of the horse’s “mildness” when she gallops it awkwardly to the Aes Sedai part of camp, in a rush to get to certain parties before they did something precipitate. She embraces saidar once there, inverting the weaves so no one can tell; she feels bad, but reminds herself that two Aes Sedai had been murdered in the camp so far. She heads to Myrelle’s tent, where she finds Myrelle, Sheriam, Morvrin, and Carlinya; their dismissive attitude to Siuan shows immediately that they thought it was all over. Siuan informs them that Egwene and Leane are alive, and prisoners inside the Tower, and that they had mostly succeeded in blocking the harbors. Sheriam instantly proposes they stage a rescue, and Myrelle agrees, but Siuan tells them no; Egwene has ordered there by no rescue involving sisters under any circumstances. Myrelle demands to know why.
“She is guarded, Myrelle. By sisters. And they won't give her up easily. If we try a rescue, Aes Sedai will die at the hands of Aes Sedai, sure as silverpike spawn in the reeds. It's happened once, but it must not happen again, or all hope dies of reuniting the Tower peacefully. We cannot allow it to happen again. So there is to be no rescue.”
Sheriam is skeptical of the chance of peaceful reintegration anyway, and Morvrin points out that even if Egwene isn’t to be tried, she will certainly be broken. They are interrupted by Lelaine, and Sheriam spills the news about Egwene to her in a way that makes Siuan want to box her ears. Lelaine only purses her lips, and commands Siuan to walk with her. Siuan is forced to obey, and outside the tent Lelaine tells her that what she’s seen has confirmed what she wrested out of Faolain, which explains to Siuan why Faolain has been in hiding recently.
“You and your friends have been very faithful to Egwene, Siuan. Can you be as faithful to me?”
[…] Siuan stopped dead, drawing herself up. Lelaine halted, too, clearly waiting for her to speak. Even with her face half in shadow that was clear. Siuan had to steel herself to confront this woman. Some instincts were buried in the bone for Aes Sedai. “I'm faithful to you as a Sitter for my Ajah, but Egwene al'Vere is the Amyrlin Seat.”
At Lelaine’s behest, Siuan relates again what Egwene had told her in her dreams, though not about the fact that someone in the Rebel camp must have betrayed her, and that Egwene has called for the Hall to convene that evening inside the Hall of the Tower, but in Tel’aran’rhiod. Lelaine finds that priceless, and muses on the rest with interest, but Siuan notes she has not said whether she will show for the meeting, and asks her point-blank if she intends to go. After a pause, Lelaine replies that of course she will, as will all the Hall. Siuan then asks why Lelaine had asked whether she would be faithful, then. Lelaine replies that she is faithful to the Amyrlin Seat—but if Egwene is stilled, or dies, Lelaine expects Siuan and her friends to make sure she takes the stole in Egwene’s place.
Siuan felt as though her stomach had turned to ice. No Blue would have been behind the first betrayal, but one Blue, at least, had reason to betray Egwene now.
This week on As The Tower Turns, we all yell at Siuan to just kiss the man already, sheesh. Among other things.
(And wow, that’s off the air now, isn’t it? Crazy!)
And… yeah. I never really liked soap operas. Which isn’t to say that’s what this is, exactly, except to the extent that it’s a big giant snarly tangle of complications that I am having trouble finding the patience to wait through its untangling. But at least, unlike most soap operas, I’m actually going to get to see the untangling finally happen. Eventually. Sigh.
But in the meantime I’m a trifle bored by this, especially because I already know how it will happen, mostly. True, I know what will happen for many of the other storylines, too, but this is the one that’s making me impatient. Probably because I’m all, “who cares what the rebels are doing, let’s get back to Egweeeeeeene!”
But it appears from the comments to the last entry that I was mistaken about how much Egwene features in KOD (which is to say, hardly at all), so I guess I’m kind of screwed on that one. I’m a little bit sulky about that.
Ironically, I was constrained to almost completely leave out the one part of this chapter that I did find somewhat entertaining, which was Siuan’s Amazing Adventures in Equestrianism (or the total lack thereof). Which is our lesson in the truth that “entertaining” and “relevant to the plot” are not always BFFs. More’s the pity.
Sheriam: I keep having this impulse to call foul on Sheriam’s Suddenly Chaos-Promoting behavior starting in KOD. Like her pushing for Egwene’s rescue, here, and the way she clued in Lelaine. I dunno, I find it… incongruous or something, even though I know that we were given clues about her shadiness all the way back to TDR, what with the 13x13 info and the Gray Man in her bed and all, and of course the beatings she’s been getting from (it turns out) Halima. So, yeah, fine, I know my objection has no real basis, but… enh.
It still feels like it’s out of nowhere to me that we find out she’s Black Ajah, later, instead of just flighty. This is possibly because I was originally quite convinced that the business in TDR and even the beatings later on were total misdirection. Plus I’m still sort of annoyed about how that “golden halo” viewing turned out. Oh well.
Lelaine: God bless, woman. Nothing like a bred-in-the-bone politician to make you feel all warm and fuzzy about humanity. Always looking out for number one, eh? No, really, you’re adorable.
Chapter 2: The Dark One’s Touch
Beonin wakes and breakfasts, grimacing at the slightly spoiled taste of the food, and sends her Warder Tervail to get their horses. She gathers her things, thinking of how she had been taught to always seize the opportunity to better herself, and waits outside the tent for Tervail. She is joined by Ashmanaille (Gray) and Phaedrine (Brown); the former makes a comment about how the group riding off (Varilin, Takima, Saroiya, Faiselle, and Magla) to the negotiations with Elaida’s people hardly look like they are together at all. Beonin replies that perhaps last night’s news has affected them. Phaedrine goes on that she and Ashmanaille were hoping to get Beonin’s input on the murders in camp, as she has had some experience in investigating such matters. Beonin replies that the murders were pre-meditated, and not random, and the only connection she can see between the two victims is that both were Blue Ajah.
“So I ask myself, what connection has the Blue Ajah with a man who can channel? The answer comes back, Moiraine Damodred and Rand al'Thor. And Kairen, she also had contact with him, yes?”
Phaedrine's frown deepened to near a scowl. “You cannot be suggesting he is the killer.” Really, she was getting much too far above herself.
“No,” Beonin said coolly. “I am saying you must follow the connection. Which leads to the Asha'man. Men who can channel. Men who can channel, who know how to Travel. Men who have some reason to fear Aes Sedai, perhaps particular Aes Sedai more than others. A connection is not the proof,” she admitted reluctantly, “but it is suggestive, yes?”
Ashmanaille is unconvinced; she thinks a male wilder among the workmen is more likely, and Phaedrine agrees. Ashmanaille comments, though, that an Asha’man would be who they would need to find a man who channels in the camp regardless. Beonin points out that that is unlikely to happen, internally thankful that the proposition to ally with the Black Tower seems destined to fall apart, and tells them again: find the connection between Anaiya and Kairen, and find the killer. She then mounts her horse and heads with Tervail to the Traveling Ground, where she weaves a gateway to a garden outside the Tower. She is reassuring Tervail that all is well when she sees the ghost of a sister she knows died long ago.
“What is it?” Tervail spun, his sword coming up, to stare in the direction she had been looking. “What frightened you?”
“The Dark One, he is touching the world,” she said softly. It was impossible! Impossible, but she was not given to delusions or fancies. She had seen what she had seen. Her shiver had nothing to with standing ankle-deep in snow. Silently, she prayed. May the Light illumine me all of my days, and may I shelter in the Creator's hand in the sure and certain hope of salvation and rebirth.
Beonin weaves Illusion to hide her face and her ability to channel. Tervail tries to talk her out of finding Elaida, offering to kill her himself, but Beonin refuses, and insists that he wait for her in an inn in the city. He leaves reluctantly.
Elaida sits in her study and listens to Mattin Stepaneos den Balgar rant about his treatment since the Tower kidnapped him. The former king of Illian looks rather the worse for wear, and Elaida is thankful that he hadn’t arrived until after she had dealt with Alviarin. She cuts off Mattin’s complaints to inform him that the Dragon Reborn had taken Illian and the Laurel Crown only days after she’d had Mattin spirited out, and if he had still been there Rand al’Thor would surely have executed him. Mattin is not much mollified, but then she tells him that she might also be able to get that throne back for him. Mattin is doubtful, but beginning to hold hope at her words.
“Regaining your crown will require planning, and time,” she told him, since at the moment she had no idea of how it could be accomplished. She certainly intended to find a way, however. Kidnapping the King of Illian had been meant to demonstrate her power, but restoring him to a stolen throne would demonstrate it even further. She would rebuild the full glory of the White Tower at its highest, the days when thrones trembled if the Amyrlin Seat frowned.
Elaida then more-or-less politely kicks Mattin out, and sends for Tarna. Tarna reports that only shallow-drafted boats can enter Southharbor, but some progress is being made with ferry-barges. Elaida doesn’t want open fighting with the rebels, and knows that therefore repairs on the harbors will have to wait. Tarna also reports that the dead are walking in the streets of the city, which chills Elaida.
Elaida projected serenity, but it was a charade. What would come, would come. And she still had secured no hold on the al'Thor boy. To think she had once had him right under her hand! If only she had known then. Curse Alviarin and that triply cursed proclamation calling anathema on anyone who approached him save through the Tower. She would have recalled it, except that would seem weakness, and in any case, the damage had been done beyond simple mending. Still, soon she would have Elayne back in hand, and the Royal House of Andor was the key to winning Tarmon Gai'don. That, she had Foretold long ago.
She is also shocked by a report that there are rats in the Tower, and orders Tarna to check the wards. They are interrupted by an Accepted, who tells Elaida that there is a woman waiting to petition her. Elaida is pleased that someone is finally beginning to bring petitions to her again, and grants the audience. A woman comes in, and promptly reveals herself to be Beonin. Tarna goes to shield her, but Elaida only remarks that she is surprised Beonin would dare to show her face. Beonin replies that she had done the best she could to slow and/or disperse the rebels, as Elaida had ordered.
“If I may say, Mother, it was the most excellent decision not to try Egwene. For one thing, she has the genius for discovering new weaves, even better than Elayne Trakand or Nynaeve al'Meara. For another, before they raised her, Lelaine and Romanda struggled with one another to be named Amyrlin. With Egwene alive, they will struggle again, but neither can succeed, yes? Me, I think very soon now sisters will begin following behind me.”
Elaida demands to know how Beonin knew that she wasn’t putting Egwene on trial, and Beonin explains to her about Tel'aran'rhiod. Elaida is stunned by this revelation, and Tarna quickly recalls Egwene’s warning to Silviana about the Seanchan, but Elaida still dismisses it. She asks if Egwene could be given enough forkroot to keep her out of Tel'aran'rhiod, but Tarna thinks that much would make her useless for anything. Annoyed, Elaida demands to know if Beonin learned anything useful, and Beonin shows them the Traveling weave, then Skimming. Elaida orders that she will not show these weaves to anyone else without permission; Tarna explains (to Elaida’s displeasure) that some of the Ajahs within the Tower oppose Elaida almost as strongly as the rebels do. Shocked, Beonin asks what has been going on in the Tower, but Elaida ignores the question in favor of making Beonin swear an oath not to teach the weaves to anyone without Elaida’s permission. Then Beonin gives Elaida the information about the ten “ferrets” sent by the rebels to sow dissension in the Tower. Elaida sits bolt upright at the last name, and orders them all watched, but not arrested.
“That may be difficult as matters stand, Mother.”
Elaida slapped the table with her free hand, a sharp crack. “I didn't ask whether it would be difficult. I said do it! And inform Meidani that I invite her to dinner this evening.” The woman had been persistent in trying to resume a friendship that had ended many years before. Now she knew why.
She sends Tarna out, and tells Beonin to teach her everything.
Elaida: still a moron. Total lack of news at eleven.
But—a moron who now knows how to Travel. GODDAMMIT, BEONIN. I shake my fist at you from the Suffa-laden future! Also, your murder investigation skills suck! So there!
At least knowledge of the Dream World is mostly not useful to Elaida without any dream ter’angreal, but that Traveling thing is going to seriously come back and bite us in the ass later. Grrr.
This chapter confused me on first reading, and in fact I think it still does, a little. Obviously one of the main purposes was to reveal that Beonin (a) is not a Darkfriend but (b) is a traitorous weasel. Well, from our admittedly biased point of view, anyway.
So, okay, I got that. However, I after reading it I was all, yeah, but DID she also betray Egwene re: her capture, or not? It seems like she didn’t from what she says to Elaida, but nothing in this chapter (as far as I can tell, anyway) specifically refutes the possibility, either.
In fact (and I think I’ve mentioned this before) I can’t recall that we ever get flat-out told who was behind the betrayal. Did we? I’ve been sitting here thinking about it, and now I’m kind of annoyed. I hope this is a plot-relevant issue for AMoL, here, because otherwise it seems like there is no reason to withhold this bit of knowledge.
Oh, and hi, Sudden King Cameo! Seriously, I think Mattin’s abrupt lack of deadness here is one of the most random things that happens in this book. Possibly in the series. Though I did notice that it was actually hinted at a couple of books earlier, so at least it isn’t really as utterly out of left field as it seemed like on first reading, but even so, the rationale Elaida thinks to herself on why she’d had Mattin kidnapped even before Rand took Illian seems a wee bit… thin. Almost ret-con-like.
Not to mention, why are we reintroducing him, again? Are we planning to make Rand give his crown back? Because, I gotta say that seems kind of shitty. The Illianers offered him the throne freely, after all. It’s not like he’s a usurper or anything. And, there’s all the prophetically-enhanced Crown of
Thorns Swords Jesus symbolism. That seems kinda important, you know? Not the kind of thing you should be all, “Oh, okay, here, I was just borrowing it.”
Also, Mattin seems a tiny bit douche-y. Though I guess if I’d been rolled in a rug and tossed in a ship for, what, months? against my will, I’d probably not be putting the best parts of my personality on display either. But considering he spent a significant amount of time hanging out with Sammael before that, I’m thinking maybe “no” on the re-kinging.
But, well. Since Rand is probably going to be Mostly Dead
for three days in a little bit, I suppose it’s necessary to have someone on standby to step in. I still think it sucks, though.
And that’s about what I got for this one, kids. Tune In Next Week to see what happens! Dramatic montage of future events! And… commercial!