The Wheel of Time Reread

The Wheel of Time Re-read: The Fires of Heaven, Part 21

Hey, y’all, welcome to another Wheel of Time Re-read post, in which we are slowly but surely inching up on the end of The Fires of Heaven. Shiny!

Today’s post covers Chapters 49-50, in which people talk. A LOT.


Previous entries can be found here. Please note that this and all other posts for the re-read contain spoilers for any or all of the currently published novels in the Wheel of Time series, so if you haven’t read, don’t read.

All right, youse guys. Grab some coffee and settle in, ‘cause you’re gonna be here a while. This I Foretell.

Chapter 49: To Boannda

What Happens
Nynaeve strongarms Captain Neres into accepting her offer for the price of the refugees’ passage by having the Shienarans sit around sharpening their swords ostentatiously. Once the refugees learn that she has paid their way, they gather around her, crying thanks and blessings and trying to kiss her hands, and Nynaeve is utterly mortified. They are on the ship for five days, and it doesn’t start well. Elayne is annoyed that they are succoring what is obviously a smuggling operation, and Nynaeve is annoyed that she and Elayne and Birgitte will have to share the captain’s tiny cabin. Later she and Elayne almost have a knockdown fight when Nynaeve realizes Elayne has channeled to make the boat go faster, and Elayne accuses her of being a “frightened rabbit”, until Birgitte intervenes. All of this is done with bright false smiles, though; Neres’ blatant misogyny is mystifying to Nynaeve (who thinks she’s met men who complain about women, but never one who actually hated them), but the result is that even though she and Elayne and Birgitte are ready to kill each other, they refuse to show it in front of Neres or anyone else.

Yet bit by bit, that trouble oozed away. Nynaeve was not exactly sure how. Perhaps the pleasant exteriors Elayne and Birgitte put on just seeped inside in spite of them. Perhaps the ridiculousness of it all, trying to keep a friendly smile on your face while putting a proper bite into your words, struck them more and more. Whatever did it, she could not complain at the outcome. Slowly, day by day, words and tones began to match faces, and now and then one of them even looked embarrassed, plainly remembering how she had been behaving. Neither spoke one word of apology, of course, which Nynaeve quite understood. Had she been as foolish and vicious as they, she certainly would not want to remind anyone.

Nynaeve covertly Heals the men’s wounds, and then the refugees’ and the children’s as well. She had never felt very comfortable around children before, but she and Elayne and Birgitte all grow very fond of those on the boat, and the children do a great deal to ease everyone’s tempers. The refugees all tell their stories, and three in particular touch Nynaeve’s heart: Nicola, whose fiancé Hyran went to fight for the Prophet and got killed; Marigan, who had dealt herbs in Samara and had to run with her two sons (who seem afraid of everything, even their own mother) from mobs looking for Aes Sedai; and Areina, who had somehow found herself taking the oath to be a Hunter for the Horn in Illian and had been getting into trouble ever since.

What she did not quite understand was why she liked Areina best. It was her opinion, putting this and that together, that nearly all of Areina’s troubles came from having too free a tongue, telling people exactly what she thought. […] Nynaeve thought a few days of herself for example would do Areina worlds of good.

Nynaeve thinks there was an odd exchange the second night, when she had made a comment that they were not in Elayne’s mother’s palace, so she’d better leave room for Nynaeve on the bed, and Birgitte had blurted, “You are the Daughter-Heir of Andor?” Elayne had said yes, coolly, and Birgitte had walked off without a word, but after that they got along much better. All three women wash the dye out of their hair, to Nynaeve’s great relief. On the third day they reach Boannda, where most of the refugees get off, except for Nicola, Areina and Marigan, who want to stay with Nynaeve and the others. Thom and Juilin look disapproving, but Elayne and Birgitte both nod in agreement. Nynaeve then convinces/bullies Neres to keep them on till Salidar. She thinks back to the first night, when she had used the stone ring to enter the Dreamworld, and had forced herself to stay in the Stone for a count of one thousand while her clothes and appearance flicker wildly with her anxiety. She stepped out of the dream, and wakes up, where Elayne asks if Egwene was there or not.

“I am tired of being afraid,” Nynaeve said without taking her gaze from the beams. “I am s-so tired of being a c-coward.” The last words dissolved into tears she could neither stop nor hide, no matter how she scrubbed at her eyes.

Elayne holds her and smooths her hair, and Birgitte tells her that if she thought Moghedien was hunting her, she would run and hide, the same way she wouldn’t just stand there if one of Cerandin’s s’redit charged her.

“You must choose your own time and your own ground, and come at her in the way she least expects. I will take my revenge on her if ever I can, but that is the only way I will. Anything else would be foolish.”

Elayne says she will prove to Nynaeve that she isn’t a coward, and uses one of the dream ter’angreal to go back to the Dreamworld with Nynaeve. They go to the Caemlyn Palace, and then the Two Rivers, where Nynaeve observes with puzzlement that someone is building a very large house outside the village, and a stone plinth carved all over with Two Rivers names has been erected on the Green, between two banners, one with a red wolf’s head and the other with a red eagle. They go to Elaida’s study, where the painting of Rand has a mended tear as if someone had thrown something at it; the papers in Elaida’s box show that she is very angry about a number of things these days, but none of it seems very useful to them. After this first night, she and Elayne enter Tel’aran’rhiod every night, to revisit Elaida’s study and practice their control in the Dreamworld. Elaida’s papers don’t give them much, but an order to send an emissary to Salidar to invite the sisters there to return to the White Tower (though it looks more like a demand to Nynaeve) at least confirms they’re not on a wild goose chase. They can’t puzzle out how Egwene appeared in their dreams, but they practice holding each other in Tel’aran’rhiod, and at creating fantastical shapes and objects.

They quietly decided to leave animals alone after a peculiar thing — much like a horse with a horn on its nose! — chased them both up a hill before they could make it vanish. That very nearly sparked a new argument, with each of them claiming the other had made it, but by that time Elayne had recovered enough of her old self to start giggling over how they must have looked, racing up the hill with their skirts hauled up, shouting at the thing to go away. Even Elayne’s stubborn refusal to admit it had been her fault could not stop Nynaeve’s giggles from bubbling up, too.

Elayne doesn’t like using the plaque or spiral ter’angreal, as she says she doesn’t feel as fully in the Dreamworld as with the ring, and additionally it’s almost impossible to channel in the dream and still hold onto the weave of Spirit keeping you there. The night they meet Egwene they switch, and Nynaeve sees Elayne was right. When Amys and Egwene appear, both Nynaeve and Elayne start to ask about her appearance in their dreams, but Egwene cuts them off with a the news about Rand’s victory in Cairhien, and tells them about it at great length. Nynaeve is astounded to hear Mat killed Couladin, and Elayne asks how Rand is. Amys answers he is driving himself hard (Nynaeve suspects that if an Aiel thinks he is driving himself “hard”, the better word would probably be “murderously”), and Egwene tells them about all the things he is doing, including founding a strange school, for craftsmen as well as scholars.

He had told no one his purpose there, except maybe Moiraine, but the only answer the Aes Sedai had given Egwene was that the urge to leave something behind was strong in everyone. Moiraine did not seem to care what Rand did.

Nynaeve tries again to ask about Egwene in their dreams, and again Egwene cuts her off, this time with a comment about how they’re not in Sheriam’s study, “where we can lounge about and chatter.” Elayne and Nynaeve give their news, and Amys asks if they think the Aes Sedai in Salidar will throw their support to Rand; Elayne says they must know the best way to oppose Elaida and to gain legitimacy for their rebellion is to attach themselves to Rand. Egwene remarks Rand will want to know about Masema and Salidar, and Amys wants to know how both of them are here. When they explain, Amys does not know how she feels about any woman who can channel having the ability to enter the Dreamworld, but admits there is more to be gained from these meetings than she first thought. She and Egwene disappear, and Elayne and Nynaeve immediately take themselves to Sheriam’s study. Egwene shows up moments later.

Before Nynaeve could open her mouth, Egwene said, “Have you two brainless flap-tongues become witless ninnies? If I ask you to keep something to yourselves, do you immediately tell the first person you meet? Did it never occur to you that you don’t have to tell everyone everything? I thought you two were good at keeping secrets.” Nynaeve’s cheeks grew warmer; at least she could not possibly be as scarlet as Elayne.

She tells them they can’t learn to do it, anyway, you have to be a Dreamwalker, and to try and keep their minds on what they’re doing, and vanishes. Nynaeve’s embarrassment overwhelms the anger that had kept her there, and she loses saidar and wakes up. She thinks, so much for redressing the balance between her and Egwene. Elayne wakes and says she went to Elaida’s study briefly, carefully not mentioning what had happened with Egwene, and Nynaeve is relieved. Elayne complains she never got a chance to send Rand a message.

“And one to Aviendha. If she is taking care of him for me, then she ought to take care of him.”

“He isn’t a horse, Elayne. You don’t own him.”

“I never said I did. How will you feel if Lan takes up with some Cairhienin woman?”

“Don’t be silly. Go to sleep.” Nynaeve burrowed fiercely into her small pillow. Perhaps she should have sent word to Lan. All those noblewomen, Tairen as well as Cairhienin. Feeding a man honey instead of telling him the truth. He had better not forget who he belonged to.

On the fifth day, they go ashore where the maps say Salidar is supposed to be, though they can only see unbroken forest from the shore. Nynaeve is not surprised Nicola and Marigan wanted to come with them, but is a little surprised that Areina wants to come too, and thinks they’ll have a shock when they find out what they’re coming to. Elayne asks Nynaeve if she’s thought about how they will be received once they reach Salidar, and Nynaeve looks at her in amazement.

They had crossed half the world, or near enough, and defeated the Black Ajah twice. Well, they had had help in Tear, but Tanchico had been all their doing. They brought news of Elaida and the Tower she was willing to bet no one in Salidar had. And most importantly, they could help these sisters make contact with Rand. “Elayne, I won’t say they will greet us as heroes, but it wouldn’t surprise me if they kissed us before today is done.”

She tells Uno to clear a path, and they set off.

I found this chapter a little annoying, since I had honestly forgotten that Jordan gets things rolling and then inserts this little slice o’ life/Time Passes filler chapter in there. I suppose it was necessary to show how Elayne and Birgitte and Nynaeve go from “about to kill each other” back to a working Superteam before they get to Salidar, but did it really have to take twenty pages?

Although, it occurs to me that I have been a little unfair in portraying the Supergirls’ pissiness for the last few chapters by leaving out a very important element: the heat. I’ve realized that in summarizing the entire second half of TFOH, I have inadvertently elided almost entirely the ongoing references to the miserable humid heat of the “Dark One’s summer” all the characters are experiencing, which is unquestionably a huge factor in the shortness of everyone’s temper, and for which they should be cut some slack. Personally, there are few things I can think of more guaranteed to put me in a rotten mood than to be soaking in my own sweat for days – months! – on end. Ugh.

Anyway. Jordan does that DJ record scratch thing with the chronology here that he so favors for “catch-up” chapters, which makes it perhaps more interesting for me the reader, but drives me the recapper right up a tree, with the first day/fifth day/second day/third night/second morning/fourth day blah blah jumping back and forth. My tenses are in total disarray!

Well, though this chapter does do two important things: it makes sure there’s at least one unicorn in WOT (*snerk*), and it sets things up for the Rebel Aes Sedai storyline in LOC, by introducing the Terrible Trio. Dun!

Nynaeve’s thought about how she would be a good example for Areina’s big mouth is one of the funniest thinks she’s ever thunk. I mean, WOW. That’s like Bobby Knight thinking he could be a good example for a person with anger management issues.

Also, hi, Moghedien!

So, the clues are there about Marigan being Moghedien, but for anyone who claims they knew she was incognito among the three from this chapter, I call bullshit. No way, Jose. Subtlety in foreshadowing, Jordan has it.

Though I have to say, I don’t get this plan. I know Moghedien’s all about the sneaky undercover agent thing, but she’s on record as loathing Nynaeve with the fire of a thousand suns, so why didn’t she take any of the seven million chances she had here to kill her? The only thing I can think of is that she wanted to get to the Rebel Aes Sedai, but that seems kind of publicly-minded (on behalf of the Shadow, I mean) of the Spider; I dunno. Maybe we learn why in the upcoming showdown, I don’t remember.

On a random nitpicky note, I have to say it’s just amazing how much more advanced pharmacology in Randland is than ours. Not only do they have a tea that apparently completely reliably prevents conception, but they have hair dye that washes right out! Washes out black dye from blonde hair, no less. I’m here to tell you, that right there is one of the most fantastical elements of this entire series.

Well, it’s the little details that always tend to get you; I imagine the ins and outs of hairdressing were probably not Jordan’s forte.

(I am reminded of watching the first episode of Heroes with my roommate. She’s not into sf in any way, but her single biggest problem with the pilot episode was not flying congressmen or indestructible cheerleaders or any of that. The part she couldn’t swallow? That Mohinder moved to New York with (apparently) no money, no legal right to work in the country, and no connections other than a dead father – and became a licensed cab driver in like two days. She will still complain about this if you bring it up. I find this hilarious, but also instructive.)

(Have I mentioned that story before?)

Egwene, blah. I think this was supposed to further set up Egwene’s status as The Boss Of Them, over Elayne as well as Nynaeve, but the fact that she’s still doing it to cover up her own rule-breaking rather undermines that. However, if the idea is that a leader should be able to run roughshod over anyone who gets in her way, well, then, she’s right on track, I guess.

Last note on this chapter: I was really – pleased, I guess is the word, though that’s not exactly right – that Nynaeve finally admitted how scared she was to Elayne and Birgitte. And I’m definitely pleased that Elayne’s immediate reaction was to comfort and support her, and for Birgitte to do the same, even while the three of them were ready to tear each other’s hair out. That’s what makes you a Good Guy, y’all. This is why I’ve always liked the Supergirls’ dynamic, which to me is not that of colleagues or even friends, but of family.

Family, in my opinion, is a relationship defined by behavior more than blood, though the two are usually (if not, tragically, always) concurrent. Your family are your people, the ones who will have your back, whether you are related to them or not. They may be flawed and annoying and may drive you bugshit, and vice versa, and you may fight like cats and dogs with them, but at the end of the day, when the shit comes down, you will be there for them, and they will be there for you. And that’s what’s important.
Chapter 50: To Teach, and Learn

What Happens
Four hours after they reach Salidar, Nynaeve is wondering if it wouldn’t have been better if they had never made it there. She and Elayne are waiting in the Salidar Six’s study in the inn, with everything they’d brought with them spread out on the table, while Sheriam et al confer behind a screen of saidar. Nynaeve thinks their arrival has been one shock after another, and she’s about ready to scream. Min’s greeting had been laughter and hugs, but they had been whisked into the study five minutes later and grilled within an inch of their lives. More shocking was Siuan and Leane, in the room as well; Nynaeve can’t decide if she’s more surprised at their youthful features, or that they’re alive at all. They seem to be at odds with one another as well. And she is intrigued by the fact that she can tell they have been stilled.

Something had been taken from them, cut away. It was like a wound. Perhaps the worst wound a woman could suffer.

Curiosity overcame her. What sort of wound would it be? What had been cut away? She might as well make use of the waiting, and the irritation that larded itself through her nervousness. She reached out to saidar.

“Did anyone grant you permission to channel here, Accepted?” Sheriam asked, and Nynaeve gave a start, hurriedly releasing the True Source.

Anaiya chides her that she has forgotten her place in her time away, and Nynaeve curtsies and apologizes, galled at the thought that a day ago she was the one in charge, and now she would have to learn to jump when told all over again. Carlinya obviously doesn’t believe their story, and Sheriam is disturbed by the a’dam; all of them are, though Morvrin wants to study it, and the other ter’angreal as well. She asks Siuan why she never mentioned Verin had given the ring to them, and Siuan says she knew nothing of it; Myrelle is more interested in the paper giving them the authority of the Amyrlin Seat, and Siuan diffidently but with some exasperation tells them they cannot hold her to account for doing what she had a perfect right to do at the time. Sheriam thinks it is appalling that she sent three Accepted – three babies, in her opinon – to hunt the Black Ajah. Nynaeve tries to interject that they are not babies, bringing up Moghedien, but Carlinya dismisses that as sheer luck and orders her to hold her peace. Sheriam presses Siuan as to why she never mentioned their mission, and Siuan replies that it didn’t seem relevant, since she’s had no idea where these two were for a long time.

“The important thing is that they are here now, and with those three ter’angreal. You must realize what it means to have access to Elaida’s study, to her papers, if only in bits. You’d never have known that she knows where you are until it was too late, except for that.”

They marvel for a moment over the reality of Tel’aran’rhiod, and then Leane puts in that the real advantage of it is the ability to speak with Egwene, and Moiraine through her, and influence Rand al’Thor even in Cairhien. Siuan makes a snippy reply to this, which Leane returns in kind, until Anaiya tells them to settle down, and remarks meaningfully to the other sisters that it would be very good to be able to talk to Egwene. Sheriam nods and tells Elayne and Nynaeve that their first duty will be to teach sisters how to use the dream ter’angreal. Nynaeve bares her teeth and curtsies again, and Elayne looks no happier. Finally, Sheriam judges that they left the Tower by command, and that therefore they cannot be held to account for it, and will be permitted to resume their studies. Nynaeve is unsurprised, though she can’t like it, but Elayne starts to protest; Sheriam cuts her off and says they are very strong, but they are not Aes Sedai yet. She tells them they will work with Siuan and Leane, answering their questions, and warns them that any attempt to take advantage of their state to get revenge on them will be severely punished. Nynaeve hadn’t thought of it, but agrees hastily, as does Elayne. Then Beonin speaks up.

“And what of this?” she demanded in heavy Taraboner accents, whipping aside the white cloth that covered the seal on the Dark One’s prison. For a change, her large blue-gray eyes looked more angry than startled. “Are there to, be no more questions about this? Do you all mean to ignore it?” The black-and-white disc lay there, next to the washleather purse, in a dozen or more pieces, fitted back together as neatly as they could be.

Nynaeve repeats defensively that it was whole when they put it in the purse, and they never thought to take care with something made of cuendillar; Elayne adds that it had felt vile and evil, and they had handled it as little as possible, though it no longer feels that way now that it is broken. Myrelle asks softly how many still hold, and Anaiya replies three, if their information is correct.

“Let us pray those three are stronger than this one,” Morvrin muttered. “Cuendillar cannot be broken so, not and be cuendillar. It cannot.”

Sheriam briskly moves them to other topics, stopping to shoo Elayne and Nynaeve out. They go down to the common room, where Thom, Juilin, Birgitte, Areina, Nicola, Marigan, Uno, and Min are waiting for them. Elayne reassures Birgitte covertly that the secret of her identity is safe, and tells Min she would like to talk with her; Min looks unhappy, but nods. They are interrupted by Faolain, who plants herself in front of Nynaeve with a scowl.

“I am surprised to see you here, wilder. I thought you had gone running back to your village, and our fine Daughter-Heir to her mother.”

“Are you still souring milk for a hobby, Faolain?” Elayne asked.

Nynaeve adds that she heard someone tried to rough up Siuan and Leane, and Sheriam means to “make an example” to end it for good. Faolain goes red and blurts a damning denial, then whirls and orders Nicola and Areina to come with her. Elayne steps between them and icily demands to know what Faolain wants with them, and Faolain replies nastily that Sheriam has ordered all girls to be tested even though she thinks most of them are much too old, like certain parties she could name; only three have been found so far. Elayne reassures Nicola and Areina that they will not be harmed, and Faolain marches them off.

“A nasty woman,” Min murmured, squinting after Faolain as she hurried the other across the common room. “You’d think, if there was any justice, she would have an unpleasant future ahead of her.”

Thom plants himself in front of Nynaeve, along with Juilin and Uno, and states that Salidar is packed with fools who think they can depose Elaida; Juilin agrees, except he would call them mad, not fools, and adds that they can reach Cairhien in a month from here. Uno puts in that Ragan and the others can “borrow” some horses without much trouble. Nynaeve looks at Elayne, who shakes her head; Nynaeve knows Elayne will put up with anything to be Aes Sedai.

And herself? Small chance that they could influence these Aes Sedai to support Rand if they had decided to try controlling him instead. Make that no chance; she might as well be realistic. And yet… And yet there was Healing. She would learn nothing of it in Cairhien, but here…

She thinks that she might be some use to Rand if she goes to Cairhien, but if she stays here she might learn enough to figure out how to hold off the madness of the taint for him. She tells the men that she and Elayne are staying, but they are free to go to Rand; Elayne adds that they do not need them anymore, but Rand surely does, and tries to give her casket of jewels from the Panarch (which they had been allowed to keep) to Thom, who refuses to take it. The three men exchange glances, and allow as to how they could use a rest before deciding where to go, just for a few days. Elayne and Nynaeve glare at them.

“If you think you are still following Rand al’Thor’s orders to look after us —” Elayne began in frosty tones at the same time that Nynaeve said heatedly, “You promised to do as you were told, and I mean to see —”

“Nothing like that,” Thom broke in, brushing back a strand of Elayne’s hair with a gnarled finger. “Nothing at all like. Can’t an old man with a limp want a little rest?”

“To tell the truth,” Juilin said, “I am just staying because Thom owes me money. Dice.”

“Do you expect us to steal twenty horses from Warders like falling out of bed?” Uno growled. He seemed to have forgotten just offering to do exactly that.

Elayne is speechless, and Nynaeve torn. She wants to send them away, not least because she doesn’t want them to see her having to curtsy left and right from now on, but admits it would be comforting to have them around. She waffles mentally for a moment, and then Siuan and Leane enter. They stare coldly at each other before stalking in opposite directions, but Nynaeve thinks she caught a glimpse of something there, just for a moment. Siuan stops dead when Gareth Byrne enters, and Elayne (who had seen him earlier), smiles graciously and tells him she has heard of trouble between him and Mother, but is sure it can be mended and Bryne given back his proper place in Caemlyn. He tells her curtly “Done is done, Elayne”, ignoring the shock on her face, and asks Uno if he’s decided to take Bryne’s offer training heavy cavalry; Uno looks at Nynaeve and Elayne for a moment, and then agrees. Bryne turns to Thom.

“I once knew a fellow with a name much like yours,” Bryne said. “A skilled player of a certain game.”

“I once knew a fellow who looked much like you,” Thom replied. “He tried hard to put me in chains. I think he’d have cut my head off if he ever laid hands on me.”

“A long time ago, that would be? Men do strange things for women sometimes.” Bryne glanced at Siuan and shook his head.

He invites Thom to play Stones sometime, and Thom replies, as long as it’s not a game that lasts forever. Bryne agrees dryly, comments to Siuan that his shirts came back dirty today, and leads Thom and Uno off; Siuan glares at Min, who grimaces and darts off. Juilin remarks he’s glad Bryne apparently had no use for a thief-catcher, and Elayne exclaims incredulously that he had all but ignored her, and then hurries off after Min. Nynaeve starts to follow, but Siuan grabs her arm.

The Siuan Sanche who had meekly ducked her head before those Aes Sedai was gone. No one here wore the shawl. Her voice never rose; it did not need to. She fixed Juilin with a stare that had him almost jumping out of his skin. “You watch what questions you ask, thief-catcher, or you’ll gut yourself for market.”

She orders Birgitte and Marigan off as well, and then drags Nynaeve to a tiny room, telling her she has questions and Nynaeve had better answer them. In the room, Siuan asks about the ring, and whether it’s true that it doesn’t require channeling; Nynaeve says yes, and Siuan tells her she’s going to teach Siuan to use it. Nynaeve raises an eyebrow and says she doesn’t recall Siuan being on the roster of people who get to use the ring, and Siuan says the sisters don’t know, and they won’t, unless Nynaeve wants them to find out she and Elayne have been posing as full sisters; Moiraine may be letting Egwene get away with it, but Sheriam and Carlinya will have them “squealing like a spawning grunter” if they find out. Shaken, Nynaeve denies it, but Siuan tells her she’s a rotten liar. Nynaeve rallies, and says she will teach her, but only if she can study Siuan and Leane, to see if stilling can be Healed. Siuan refuses flatly, and says she and Leane were promised to be left alone. Desperate, Nynaeve gambles on her own suspicion.

“What would Sheriam say if she knew you and Leane weren’t ready to tear out each other’s hair at all?” Siuan just looked at her. “They think you’re tamed, don’t they? The more you snap at anybody who can’t snap back, the more they take it for proof when you leap to obey every time an Aes Sedai coughs. Was a little cringing all it took to make them forget the two of you had worked hand-in-hand for years? Or did you convince them stilling had changed everything about you, not just your face? When they find out you’ve been scheming behind their backs, manipulating them, you’ll howl louder than any grunter. Whatever that is.”

Nynaeve repeats her demand, throwing in Logain, though of course she has no intention of Healing him even if she finds out how, and says otherwise Siuan can forget about the ring. There is a long, tense silence, then Siuan mutters that she hopes Moiraine has “managed to keep Egwene’s backbone more supple than this”, and agrees. She and Nynaeve shake on it, and Nynaeve is greatly pleased that finally someone had failed to bully her.

Elayne catches up with Min just outside the inn, and asks what she is doing; Min answers “laundry”, sourly, and says something incomprehensible about Siuan. Min tells her that the three women they brought with them are “trouble, and that is a viewing”, but can’t be any more specific.

Drawing a deep breath, she leaped off the cliff. “Min, you had a viewing about Rand and me, didn’t you?” She went two steps before she realized the other woman had stopped.

“Yes.” It was a wary word.

“You saw that we were going to fall in love.”

“Not exactly. I saw you’d fall in love with him. I don’t know what he feels for you, only that he’s tied to you some way.”

[…] “And you saw there would be someone else. Someone I’d have to… share him with.”

“Two,” Min said hoarsely. “Two others. And . . . And I’m one.”

Elayne is astounded, which rather annoys Min. Elayne can’t decide how she feels about this news, and instead just asks who the third is; Min doesn’t know, except that she has a temper (and adds it’s not Nynaeve, “thank the Light”). She asks Elayne cautiously how she feels about this.

“I like you. I never had a sister, but sometimes I feel like you… I want to be your friend, Elayne, and I won’t stop liking you whatever happens, but I can’t stop loving him.”

Elayne says stiffly that she can’t like the idea of sharing a man, and Min doesn’t either, but says she will take him any way she can get him, shamed as she is to admit it; the man has scrambled her brains. Elayne takes a deep breath, and says he is ta’veren, and they are “chips caught in a whirlpool”, but they will work it out somehow. Min says bleakly that meantime they are trapped here, and frets about Rand being around all those Cairhienin noblewomen, but Elayne tells her not to worry about that; Aviendha is keeping a close eye on Rand for them. She helps Min with the laundry as Min starts to fill her in on her story, and wonders who on earth the third woman could be.

I’m not nearly as incensed by this chapter now as I was the first time I read it, but that’s because I know what’s going to happen now. The first time, I was livid on Elayne and Nynaeve’s behalf.

Especially Nynaeve. Some of the Salidar’s Six’s reactions are understandable here, but Carlinya can seriously bite me. Not even a little credit – just credit! – for an Accepted who beat a Forsaken? Shit. If I was Nynaeve I would have screamed. Respect, may we have some, please? Clearly, no. Grrr.

I’m unclear on whether any of the Six twigged to the real reason Siuan didn’t tell them about Elayne and Nynaeve’s mission, in the Tower or later in Salidar. Which was, of course, because Siuan could not be sure whether any of them were Black Ajah themselves.

I mean, I hope they figured that out, because it’s bloody obvious, as is the reason why Siuan could not say so out loud. But you never know, since it appears that Siuan’s got them dancing to her tune quite nicely. It’s obvious, for instance, that by this point they’ve already been manipulated into choosing Egwene as their Hudsucker proxy. So who knows what they’ve noticed?

Faolain: She shows up, and suddenly we’re in the medieval version of Mean Girls. It’s kind of awesome. I snickered like hell at Elayne’s little dig at her in the common room. Ha, snap. Sometimes being catty is just so satisfying.

Speaking of Elayne, I never quite understood Bryne’s reaction to her in this chapter. Elayne-haters are sure to put the worst interpretation possible on it, I’m sure, but I had never had the impression that Bryne was vindictive or petty, nor that he had any particular animus against Elayne, who remembers him quite fondly earlier. And surely he doesn’t blame Elayne for how her mother behaved… right? I don’t know, maybe I’m missing something, but being that cold just seemed uncalled-for.

Thom, Juilin, and Uno are adorable in this chapter. Again, it comes down to actions trumping words; they can grouse about Nynaeve and Elayne all they want, but you just are not that loyal to people you genuinely can’t stand, sorry.

Siuan: I like her a lot, but I’m still glad that Nynaeve won that face-off. First because Nynaeve really needed a victory right then, however small, and secondly because I really do like to see the Supertrios evolve into being the Boss Of Others, my snark about Egwene above notwithstanding.

Elayne and Min: All things considered, Elayne took the news quite well, I think. Better than most would have. Of course, she had kind of already suspected, so that probably helped a little, but still. It also appears that she shares the view that prophesied love, especially with a ta’veren, doesn’t have a lot to do with, well, falling in love. I’m not sure how else to put that. Maybe someone else can try!

Because the typing, it is stopping now. Stick a fork in me, and come back Friday!


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