The Wheel of Time Reread

The Wheel of Time Re-read: The Fires of Heaven, Part 19

“The time has come,” the Walrus said,
“To talk of many things:
Of Wheels – and Time – and Re-read posts –
Of Fires of Heaven – and kings –
Of Chapters 45 & 46 –
And whether pigs have wings.”

’Tis brillig, you slithy toves! But don’t get all mimsy, we don’t wonder what you’re at!

Previous nonsense is here. I’m judge, I’m jury, and if you forget there’s spoilers here for the entire series, we’ll give you plum-cake and drum you out of town! Off with your heads! Snicker-snack!

Will you, won’t you, will you, won’t you, will you join the dance? Excellent! Begin at the beginning, and go on till you come to the end: then stop.

Chapter 45: After the Storm

What Happens
Mat winces against the heat and his many cuts and bruises, which remind him of the thing he does not want to see. He fingers a slice across the chest of his coat and thinks that an inch difference would have had that spear through his heart. All around him, the camp is bedlam, Aiel and Cairhienin and Tairens all mixed up together for once, drinking, dancing, singing, and playing musical instruments cacophonously, celebrating their survival. Daerid and Estean stagger by, trying to teach an Aielman the words to “Dance with Jak O’ the Shadows”:

“We’ll sing all night, and drink all day,
and on the girls we’ll spend our pay,
and when it’s gone, then we’ll away,
to dance with Jak o’ the Shadows.”

Mat wishes he’d never taught them the song; it had only been a way to distract himself while Daerid sewed him up so he didn’t bleed to death, but the song had spread like wildfire by the time they’d returned. Mat reflects on the fact that after all that, he’d ended up right back where he started, and no chance to get away; he’d tried to ride ahead, and Talmanes and Nalesean had almost come to blows over who was going to escort him. He looks at the ruins of the log tower, and thinks he really shouldn’t wait around to find out if his medallion works as well on a man’s channeling as it does a woman’s.

“The hero should not sit without drinking.”

Startled, he jerked around, grunting at the stab of his wounds, to stare at Melindhra. She had a large clay pitcher in one hand, not spears, and her face was not veiled, but her eyes seemed to be weighing him. “Now listen, Melindhra, I can explain everything.”

She doesn’t know what there is to be explained; she knew he would seek his own honor, out from under the Car’a’carn’s shadow. Mat is astounded that she’s not going to try to kill him for sneaking off, but agrees hastily. She says that “he” was a man of great honor, and Mat had earned much ji by killing him; Mat did well to seek him out.

Despite himself, Mat looked at what he had been avoiding, and shivered. A leather cord tied in short flame-red hair held Couladin’s head atop the ten-foot pole near where the Aielmen were dancing. The thing seemed to be grinning. At him.

Mat insists to himself that he was not trying to seek out Couladin at all, it had just happened that way in the thick of the fight. He still doesn’t know if Couladin ever recognized him, but supposes it hardly matters now.

Back in the Two Rivers he had been as fine a hand with a quarterstaff as anyone, and a quarterstaff was not so different from a spear, but Couladin must have been born with the things in his hands. Of course, that skill had not availed the man much in the end.

Talmanes approaches and gives him a formal bow, which Mat acknowledges absently, trying to think of a way to make Melindhra go away, and failing. Talmanes tells him there will be a triumphal procession into the city for the Lord Dragon. Mat isn’t much interested in this news, and Nalesean joins them to add that the leader of the delegation to the camp to announce it was High Lord Meilan; Talmanes interjects that there was a delegation from the Cairhienin as well, Lords Dobraine and Maringil, and Lady Colavaere. Mat observes that the two of them are ignoring each other as hard as possible and yet still manage to be on the edge of dueling, and asks what difference it makes which delegation came, as long as Rand gets his parade? Talmanes replies that it matters because they must secure Mat’s and their rightful place at its head; Mat slew Couladin, after all. Nalesean is annoyed Talmanes beat him to this pronouncement. Mat tells them to ask themselves, it’s none of his affair. They gape at him as if he’s crazy, and Nalesean protests, but he’s their battle leader, their general. He and Talmanes begin fighting very stiffly over who’s going to get to polish Mat’s boots and lend him a coat and so on, while Mat protests that he’s no bloody general.

“Burn my soul,” Nalesean said, “it was your battle skill that won for us, and kept us alive. Not to mention your luck. I’ve heard how you always turn the right card, but it is more than that. I’d follow you if you had never met the Lord Dragon.”

“You are our leader,” Talmanes said right on top of him, in a voice more sober if no less certain. “Until yesterday I have followed men of other lands because I must. You I will follow because I want to. Perhaps you are not a lord in Andor, but here, I say that you are, and I pledge myself your man.”

Cairhienin and Tairen stared at one another as though startled at voicing the same sentiment, then slowly, reluctantly, exchanged brief nods. If they did not like each other — and only a fool would bet against that — they could meet on this point. After a fashion.

Talmanes and Nalesean both agree he needs a banner, and Mat tries to decide whether to laugh or cry. Every step that had brought him here had seemed so logical and harmless at the time. All because of Rand, or ta’veren, or both. He sees Moiraine at the top of the hill, having an argument with Lan; she rides off, but Lan remains, watching him. He shivers, opines that that’s “just bloody wonderful”, and takes a drink of Melindhra’s brandy, which Talmanes and Nalesean take as agreement. Some fifty of the men had gathered to watch him talk to the two lords, and take this as a signal to serenade him with a new verse of the song he’d taught them:

“We’ll toss the dice however they fall,
and snuggle the girls be they short or tall,
then follow young Mat whenever he calls,
to dance with Jak o’ the Shadows.”

With a wheezing laugh he could not stop, Mat sank back down onto the boulder and set about emptying the pitcher. There had to be some way out of this. There just had to be.

Rand opens his eyes and sees he is in his tent, feeling weak but pain-free. He abruptly remembers the things he had said earlier and goes cold.

I cannot let him take control. I am me! Me!

Aviendha tells him that Moiraine Healed him, and he is startled to realize she and Asmodean are both in the tent, watching him and looking exhausted. Aviendha tries to make him feel guilty for making it necessary for Moiraine to do so, telling him she collapsed afterward and had to be carried to her tent, but Asmodean counters that she is already up and about. Ignoring Aviendha’s glare, he adds casually that he did what he could for Rand, but his talents lie elsewhere than Healing.

He strummed a few notes to demonstrate. “I understand that a man can kill or gentle himself doing what you did. Strength in the Power is useless if the body is exhausted. Saidin can easily kill, if the body is exhausted. Or so I have heard.”

Aviendha asks icily if he’s quite finished, and turns to Rand and tells him he had no right to almost kill himself like that trying to do everything himself; as Car’a’carn he has toh to the Aiel, and cannot fulfill it dead. Rand is amazed, as in his estimation he had hardly done anything useful at all during the battle, but tells her he’ll try to remember, and distracts her by asking for news of the undecided clans. She tells him there is much back and forth between societies, but the chiefs are staying put until the Wise Ones are done conferring. Rand is incredulous that they’re still talking, and Aviendha gives him a flat look and refuses to tell him more, though she reluctantly adds that Egwene might; she had been pulled from her blankets as a replacement for Moiraine, who said she was too busy to attend, and Aviendha laughs herself hoarse over Egwene’s confusion.

“I called to her that she would have to dig holes in the ground with her teeth this time if she had been caught in a misdeed, and she was so sleepy she believed me. She began protesting that she would not, so hard that Sorilea began demanding what she had done to think she deserved to. You should have seen Egwene’s face.” She laughed so hard that she nearly toppled over.

Asmodean looks at her askance, which Rand finds a little rich coming from him, and asks about the Shaido. Aviendha is not very concerned with them, but Rand is; without Han to harry them, tens of thousands of them had escaped in good order, and burned the bridges behind them. He’s distracted from this, though, by her casual mention of the fact that Mat had killed Couladin. He is astounded.

Asmodean plucked a few chords of something martial; the harp seemed to echo to drums and trumpets. “In some ways, a young man of as many surprises as you. I truly look forward to meeting the third of you, this Perrin, one day.”

Rand thinks, so Mat had not escaped the pull of ta’veren after all, and suspects he’s probably not too happy at the moment.

Mat had not learned the lesson that he had. Try to run away, and the Pattern pulled you back, often roughly; run in the direction the Wheel wove you, and sometimes you could manage a little control over your life. Sometimes.

He thinks about Sammael, careful to use that name and not the other one in his head, Tel Janin Aellinsar, that he knew was not recorded anywhere, and promises himself that the Forsaken will pay for the Maidens he killed. Hopefully he had made a start on that by sending Weiramon back to Tear, but he had a duty to Cairhien first. He says he needs to go to the city, and tells Natael to have his horse saddled, but Aviendha stops him and says tomorrow will be soon enough. Rand tells her he doesn’t know why Meilan isn’t here already, but he means to find out; Asmodean tells him that Meilan had been here already. Aviendha says angrily that he wasn’t to be told that, he needs rest.

“I can rest when I’m dead,” he said, and wished he had not when she flinched as if he had hit her. No, she would not have flinched at a blow. His staying alive was important to her for the Aiel’s sake, and a threat there could hurt her more than a fist.

Natael explains that Meilan had come at dawn with six other Tairen High Lords, remarking that those men were as dangerous in their way as some others he had known, and that they had been not happy at all to be prevented from seeing Rand; he thinks that it’s possible that the only reason they didn’t try to cut a path to Rand is the thought that Rand might not welcome them with the blood of his allies on their blades. They finally left, but not before Meilan declared loudly that he makes a gift of Cairhien to the Dragon Reborn.

“There’s an old saying in the Two Rivers,” Rand said dryly. “The louder a man tells you he’s honest, the harder you must hold on to your purse.”

He had no doubts about the man’s loyalty, or rather lack of it; these seven High Lords were the ones who had plotted the most against him in Tear, which is why he’d sent them to Cairhien in the first place. Not knowing then, of course, that he would end up here with them. Asmodean seems unsure if that Two Rivers proverb is meant to apply to him, too, but goes on that he thinks Meilan means to be King of Cairhien, subject to Rand, of course. Rand and he are both very dry about that, and Asmodean continues that after the Tairens there was another delegation of Cairhienin, who were even more difficult to turn away than the Tairens. Disbelievingly, he says that when Sorilea threatened to have them flogged, they actually discussed it among themselves, and he thinks if it would have gotten them to Rand some of them might even have accepted. Aviendha puts in that Sorilea should have done it anyway, and Asmodean finishes that two of them, Lord Dobraine and Lady Colavaere, passed him a message that was so veiled in innuendo it’s difficult to make out, but he thinks they also mean to offer Rand the Sun Throne.

“They could bandy words with… some people I used to be acquainted with.”

Rand barked a laugh. “Maybe they will. If they can manage the same terms as Meilan.” He had not needed Moiraine to tell him that Cairhienin played the Game of Houses in their sleep, nor Asmodean to tell him they would try it with the Forsaken. The High Lords to the left and the Cairhienin to the right. One battle done, and another, of a different sort if no less dangerous, beginning.

Rand says he means the Sun Throne for someone who deserves it, and ignores the speculation on Asmodean’s face. He still does not trust the man enough to let him in on his plans; his loyalty is all necessity. He realizes Aviendha has let the talk go on because it was delaying him leaving, and tells Natael again to go get his horse. Asmodean bows and says he serves the Lord Dragon, and leaves.

Ha, poor Mat. Well, if he can’t take enjoyment in his lordening, I’m happy to do it vicariously for him. Because, c’mon: that is totally what this is all about.

For some reason I’ve never cared much for Nalesean, while really liking Talmanes, and I’m not sure why, since functionally they are almost identical. Maybe it’s the name; “Nalesean” sounds like a brand of sinus medicine. Or maybe it’s that of all the various nations, Tear seems to have come off as far the worst bunch. Even the Cairhienin seem to have more redeeming qualities as a group, whereas ninety-five percent of all the Tairens we’ve been introduced to (especially the nobility) are pretty much all awful people. Maybe Jordan had a really bad trip to Spain, or something?

Asmodean: You know, for all the lack of trust Rand has supposedly not invested in Asmodean, Asmodean unquestionably knows more about both Rand’s situation and his plans than pretty much anyone else in this novel. Possibly, anyone else in the series.

I’ve said that before, but it continues to strike me. Rand may be right that Asmodean’s loyalty is all on the surface – he probably is right, all things considered – but freakishly enough, what I said about Mat, that actions trump thoughts, applies just as much to Asmodean as it does anyone else. And going strictly by his actions, once he is forced into Rand’s camp Asmodean has been in many ways Rand’s strongest advocate – and in ways it’s not even remotely necessary for him to be, like here where he sticks up for Rand against Aviendha’s mother-henning. For someone whose loyalty is all necessity, he sure does a pretty good imitation of someone honoring the spirit of his pledge of loyalty as well as the letter of it. In fact it’s really difficult for me to not just like the guy.

Which is pretty screwed up when you think about it. It’s kind of a pity, in my opinion, that we never get a chance to see if Asmodean would ever have betrayed that loyalty, given the chance. In fact the more I think about it the more I think his murder at the end of the book was a waste of a good character.

This is fairly ironic, considering that I’ve said (and still do say) that one of the larger flaws of the series is the absurdly high survival rate of major speaking roles in the midst of what’s supposed to be a cataclysmic battle of good and evil, but there it is. I… kinda wish he hadn’t died, now. Crap.

Speaking of which, I did have to smirk a little bit at Asmodean’s comment about wanting to meet Perrin. Ain’t gonna happen, kiddo. Sorry!

Chapter 46: Other Battles, Other Weapons

What Happens
Rand is startled when Aviendha flings down her cup, since Aiel never waste drinking liquids. She seems almost as surprised, but glares at him and says so he means to enter the city even though he can barely stand up; she didn’t know he was more than mortal. Rand wants his clothes, and she reminds him of his toh. He smiles and says if she keeps on like this he will begin to think she cares for him. He meant it as a joke, but she is furious, and threatens to get Sorilea and Bair, or maybe Enaila, Somara and Lamelle. Rand stiffens, as those three were the worst about mothering him of all the Maidens, and tells her flatly that he is going into the city. She refills her wine without getting up, and calmly tells him he can go – if he can find his clothes. Muttering to himself, Rand starts searching the tent; he finds his sword, but no clothes. Aviendha remarks that he will no longer need that, as Couladin is dead. Rand is amazed that she had guessed his intentions the day before, and denies it, and she just smiles and tells him she “learns him more every day”.

A fine thing. The High Lords of Tear sweated when Rand al’Thor looked at them, and the Cairhienin might offer him their throne. The greatest Aiel army the world had ever seen had crossed the Dragonwall on the orders of the Car’a’carn, the chief of chiefs. Nations trembled at mention of the Dragon Reborn. Nations! And if he did not find his clothes, he would sit waiting on permission to go outside from a lot of women who thought they knew better about everything than he did.

He finally notices the sleeve of his coat sticking out from under Aviendha’s skirt; she had been sitting on his clothes the whole time. She grudgingly moves, and watches him as he shaves and dresses, and he shakes his head.

She misunderstood his head shaking. “Elayne will not mind if I look, Rand al’Thor.”

Pausing with the laces of his shirt half done, he stared at her. “Do you really believe that?”

“Of course. You belong to her, but she cannot own the sight of you.”

He laughs silently, glad of the reminder that she does not know everything, and ducks outside, trying to hide the shakiness of his legs. He is irritated when Sulin looks at Aviendha and not him for confirmation before readying the Maidens to move out. Asmodean appears, leading his horse, followed by an expressionless Cairhienin refugee named Pevin, who had lost his entire family to the various fighting in Cairhien and believed that by staying near Rand he would see his family avenged before the world ended, and now carries Rand’s banner instead of Asmodean. Rand mounts up and attempts to show off by hauling Aviendha up behind him, which nearly ends up with both of them falling off; he hopes she’s not holding on so tightly to him because she noticed. They ride through camp, where Rand frowns at the some twenty thousand Shaido prisoners, sitting calmly naked in clusters with no guards on them.

Perhaps they would put on white robes just as calmly. Yet he could not help remembering how easily these same people had violated their own laws and customs already. Couladin might have begun the violation or ordered it, but they had followed and obeyed.

Rand notices another oddity: some of the Aiel warriors are wearing a narrow scarlet headband, with the black and white Aes Sedai symbol painted or embroidered on it, even though Aiel warriors never wear anything but shoufa on their heads. Even stranger, gai’shain are wearing it too, even though they are never to wear anything that a warrior would wear. He asks Aviendha about it, and she replies she doesn’t know; Sorilea hit her with a stick when she asked about it, but she thinks they might be those who claim the Aiel are siswai’aman.

Rand opened his mouth to ask the meaning — he knew a scant few words of the Old Tongue, no more — when interpretation floated to the surface in his mind. Siswai’aman. Literally, the spear of the Dragon.

“Sometimes,” Asmodean chuckled, “it is difficult to see the difference between oneself and one’s enemies. They want to own the world, but it seems you already own a people.”

Rand stares at him until he stops grinning, and is troubled by the implications, for Lews Therin’s memories tell him the name does strongly imply ownership, and he does not want to own people. He notes that none of the Maidens have donned the headband, and observes to Aviendha that she does not believe it. She hesitates and says she does not know what to believe, and the Wise Ones are silent as if they are not sure either. Some believe that following Rand expiates their sin in failing the Aes Sedai, while some believe that he will kill them all in endless dances of the spear.

“I have even heard some say that the Aiel are now your dream, and that when you wake from this life, we will be no more.”

A grim set of beliefs, that. Bad enough that he had revealed a past they saw as shaming. It was a wonder they had not all left him. Or gone mad. “What do the Wise Ones believe?” he asked, as quietly as she.

“That what must be, will be. We will save what can be saved, Rand al’Thor. We do not hope to do more.”

Rand notes lightly that he thinks Sorilea at least believes that he needs his ears boxed, and Aviendha mutters that they believe many things she wishes they did not; Rand grins to hear that she does not agree. They pass by Kadere’s wagons, where Moiraine is again fussing over the wagon containing the doorframe ter’angreal; he is surprised that Kadere is still there, especially since Isendre’s escape. Rand slows down as they approach, thinking surely Moiraine would want to accompany him to the city, but she only looks at him a moment and turns away.

Frowning, he heeled the dapple on. As well to remember she had other sheep to shear than he knew about. He had become too trusting. Best to be as wary of her as of Asmodean.

He thinks he should trust no one except himself; except, with another man oozing through his head, he doesn’t know if he can trust himself either. He hurries past the vast piles of the dead, covered with vultures, ravens and flies, trying not to look at it, and arrives at the Foregate. The Tairen guards at the city gate are wary at first, until the officer abruptly recognizes Rand and waves the others aside, calling to make way for the Dragon Reborn, all glory to the Lord Dragon, etc. They bow deeply as he rides through; Aviendha sniffs, and then doesn’t understand why he laughs.

What amused him was that however hard Tairens or Cairhienin or anyone else tried to puff up his head, he could rely on her and the Maidens, at least, to take the swelling down. And Egwene. And Moiraine. And Elayne and Nynaeve, for that matter, if he ever saw either again. Come to think of it, the lot of them seemed to make that a large part of their life’s work.

His laughter dies as he sees the inside of the city, stuffed to bursting with starving refugees, yet who are cheering him madly and struggling to get through the phalanx of Maidens to touch him. Meilan soon appears to meet him with a retinue of Tairens lords and guards who lay about them with the butts of their spears to clear a path. Meilan bows to Rand rigidly and apologizes for the “peasants”, and that he had meant to prepare a grand entry for him. Rand answers that he has had one; Meilan clearly doesn’t get it, but agrees and moves on, inviting Rand to accompany him back to the Palace, all oily subservience, and Rand thinks of how much the man hates him. He notes that now that he rides with the Tairens, the cheers have stopped. They arrive at the Palace, where an entire battalion of Tairen soldiers line the courtyard, raising shouts for the Lord Dragon, Tear, and the Lord Meilan, in that order. The other High Lords greet him there, and Rand decides to make use of the lessons Moiraine had taught him.

Rand clasped Torean’s pudgy hand warmly and clapped Gueyam on the point of a thick shoulder, returned Hearne’s smile with one warm enough for a close companion and nodded silently to Aracome with a seemingly significant glance. Simaan and Maraconn he all but ignored after one look as flat and cool as a deep winter pond for each.

Rand enjoys how much this puts them off balance, until he catches Asmodean’s sardonic grin and Aviendha’s stare, and he barks for everyone to get inside, making the High Lords jump. They go to the Grand Hall, which is filled with both Tairen and Cairhienin nobility, but the Tairens are all ranged in front, even those of minor houses before Cairhienin nobles with stripes nearly to their knees. They all roar in quick acclaim of him, and Rand comes to the head of the Hall, where the Sun Throne sits, which Rand realizes they mean for him to take.

“This belongs to someone else,” he said finally. “Besides, I’ve spent too long in the saddle to welcome such a hard seat. Bring me a comfortable chair.”

There was a moment of shocked silence before a murmur ran through the Hall. Meilan suddenly wore such a look of speculation, quickly suppressed, that Rand nearly laughed. Very likely Asmodean was right about the man. Asmodean himself was eyeing Rand with barely hidden surmise.

A chair is finally brought for him, and he sits down gratefully, trying to hide his relief from Aviendha, Enaila, Somara and Lamelle, who are watching him with concerned suspicion. He had worked out with Moiraine what needed to be done here.

“Why do the Cairhienin hang back?” he said loudly, and the crowd of nobles shifted, exchanging confused glances. “Tairens came to help, but that is no reason for Cairhienin to hold themselves in the rear here. Let everyone sort themselves by rank. Everyone.”

The nobles are all stunned for a moment, but then slowly shift around until the front row is all Cairhienin, and twice the High Lords’ number have joined them at the foot of the dais. Rand continues that it is good that the banner of Tear flies over Cairhien, as everyone in the city would be dead without Tairen grain, and the city would be overrun with Shaido without Tairen soldiers. This puffs up the Tairens even as it confuses them, and Rand goes on.

“But I do not need so many banners for myself. Let one Dragon banner remain, on the highest tower of the city so all who approach can see, but let the rest be taken down and replaced with the banners of Cairhien. This is Cairhien, and the Rising Sun must and will fly proudly. Cairhien has her own honor, which she shall keep.”

He is startled by the sudden roar of approval from the Cairhienin nobles; they go a little crazy, capering and waving their arms as the Tairens stare. Rand bemusedly remembers that Moiraine had said something about Cairhienin reserve being an odd thing, and when it broke the results could be surprising. Rand agrees, now. Finally the cheers die down, and the nobles line up to give him their oaths of fealty, alternating between Tairen and Cairhienin; Meilan is first, followed by Lady Colavaere, who eyes Aviendha speculatively. Rand is impatient as the oaths go on; he knows it is necessary, both from Moiraine and from Lews Therin’s memories, but it’s part of the delay to him. He has to make Cairhien secure before he can move on Sammael.

And that I will do! I have too much to do yet to let him go on stabbing at my ankles from the bushes! He will find out what it means to rouse the Dragon!

He did not understand why those coming before him began to sweat and lick their lips as they knelt and stammered the words of fealty. But then, he could not see the cold light burning in his own eyes.

Conflicts are most irritating when you can see both sides of them as having valid points. E.g., the tussle between Rand and his keepers. On the one hand, being mothered and bossed is beyond annoying, even when you aren’t the Big Kahuna; on the other hand, Rand was clearly absent the day they taught self-preservation, so someone has to do it. So, argh.

I would like to point out that Rand’s amused thought (quoted above) about the various women around him’s purpose in life being to take him down a peg or two utterly validates my earlier theory of same. Those pointing out that I may have subconsciously come up with that theory because of that same passage will be primly ignored.

Siswai’aman: So obviously, slavery is wrong. Duh. But I imagine the problem becomes a little more complicated when someone comes up to you and says, “Hi, you own me now, kthx”, and then won’t take no for an answer. That, my friends, is messed up.

I mean, what’s the move there? Are you still guilty of a horrific crime against humanity if you refuse the – what, burden? Responsibility? I don’t even know what you would call that – of owning people, but your “slaves” won’t accept your refusal? Seriously, what do you do with that?

‘Tis a puzzlement!

Anyway. Nice allusion there in that same passage:

“He’s dreaming now,” said Tweedledee: “and what do you think he’s dreaming about?”

Alice said, “Nobody can guess that.”

“Why, about you!” Tweedledee exclaimed, clapping his hands triumphantly. “And if he left off dreaming about you, where do you suppose you’d be?”

“Where I am now, of course,” said Alice.

“Not you!” Tweedledee retorted contemptuously. “You’d be nowhere. Why, you’re only a sort of thing in his dream!”

“If that there King was to wake,” added Tweedledum, “you’d go out – bang! – just like a candle!”

Love that.

Moiraine: Dame Barely Appearing In These Last Few Chapters. I forgot how much she kind of absents herself from the forefront of the action until the Big Ass Ending gets rolling. Still not sure if that was on purpose, or if Jordan had too much else to deal with and just shunted her off till she was needed again. Either way, kind of a shame, considering we’re about to lose her for six-ish books.

The scene in the Grand Hall is another one of my favorite Rand moments, because I had a sudden mental picture of this young man lounging on a chair, speaking to a roomful of the most powerful people of two nations with total confidence that not only is he the boss of them, but he has every right to be, and it’s a striking depiction of how much Rand has changed and how far he’s come since the start of the series. Good stuff. And of course, there is the ending of the chapter, which always gives me a little schadenfreudical “heh”.

Also, poll: Rand’s last thought of the chapter (He will find out what it means to rouse the Dragon!) – Rand’s thought, or Lews Therin’s? Discuss!

Leave off that, you make me giddy! Have a very merry un-birthday weekend, unless of course it happens to be your birthday this weekend. Now, remember: re-read posts tomorrow, and re-read posts yesterday, but never re-read posts today. Unless it’s Monday, of course. Feather!


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