The Wheel of Time Reread

The Wheel of Time Re-read: A Crown of Swords, Part 23

Hello, WOT Campers! Welcome back to the Wheel of Time Re-read!

Today’s entry is, I am startled to discover, the penultimate post for A Crown of Swords, covering Chapters 39 and 40, in which I lose one of my favorite things for a good long while, and sulk about it.

Previous re-read entries are here. The Wheel of Time Master Index is here, in which you can find links to news, reviews, and all manner of information regarding the newest release, The Gathering Storm, and for WOT-related stuff in general.

This re-read post contains spoilers for all currently published Wheel of Time novels, up to and including Book 12, The Gathering Storm. If you haven’t read, read at your own risk.

And now, click on for my dazzling display of maturity!

Chapter 39: Promises to Keep


What Happens
Back in the Palace, Mat has been arguing with everyone for the last hour, trying to get them to leave Ebou Dar, and demands to know if they are all blind or deaf or what. Tylin is in the room, along with Elayne, Nynaeve, Birgitte, Aviendha, the rest of the rebel Aes Sedai embassy, Reanne and the five surviving Wise Women, Renaile din Calon Blue Star, whose jewelry indicates (as Mat knows from his memories) that she is Windfinder to the Mistress of the Ships, and almost twenty more Sea Folk women, all of whom can channel. He suspects but is not sure whether Elayne and Nynaeve have spoken to Tylin, who is watching him with a small smile. Merilille tells him she’s never heard of a Shadowspawn called a gholam, and Mat snaps back that he saw it, and so did Elayne and the Wise Women. He doesn’t understand why Elayne and Nynaeve are keeping so silent, refusing to back up his story, and the Wise Women are no help, as they are terrified in the presence of Aes Sedai (except Sumeko, who Nynaeve had had a long talk with on the way back and is now frowning at the Aes Sedai thoughtfully). Renaile interjects that no one doubts Elayne Sedai’s word; it is the danger they question, as the Sea Folk are not happy about leaving the water. Mat thinks the Sea Folk group is very odd, as they range from Renaile all the way down to two lowly deckhand Windfinders still in training, and the Sea Folk are normally extreme sticklers for rank. Also, he’s never seen anyone look at Aes Sedai smugly before. Merilille, who has also noticed this, says something snippy to Renaile. Mat tries to explain the danger to them:

Gholam were created in the middle of the War of the Power, during the Age of Legends,” he began from the beginning. Almost from the beginning of what Birgitte had told him. He turned, facing each group of women as he spoke. Burn him if he was going to let one bunch think they were more important. Or that he was bloody pleading with them. Especially since he was. “They were made to assassinate Aes Sedai. No other reason. To kill people who could channel. The One Power won’t help you; the Power won’t touch a gholam. In fact, they can sense the ability to channel, if they’re within, say, fifty paces of you. They can feel the power in you, too. You won’t know the gholam until it’s too late. They look just like anybody else. On the outside. Inside… Gholam have no bones; they can squeeze themselves under a door. And they’re strong enough to rip a door off steel hinges with one hand.” Or rip out a throat. Light, he should have let Nalesean stay in bed.

He continues that there were only six made, as apparently even the Forsaken were a little uneasy about them, and he assumes this one was kept alive in a stasis box. He reasons that it had to have been sent by a Forsaken, probably to get the Bowl, and from what it said to Mat, has orders to kill Elayne and/or Nynaeve specifically. (He gives them a sympathetic look, which puzzles Elayne and irritates Nynaeve.) He says that it has to know the Bowl is in the Palace now, and that’s on top of the Black Ajah (he ignores the Aes Sedai’s indignation), so do they see why they have to get out and take the Bowl somewhere the gholam and the Black Ajah don’t know about? Renaile sniffs and points out that Merilille Sedai says she’s never heard of this “gholam,” and Elayne Sedai will not confirm it either, and she’s never heard of a “stasis box” either, and why should they take his word for any of it? Mat is careful not to look at Birgitte, who is where all this information has come from, and starts to say he read a book about it, but Renaile sneers that she will not “leave the salt” for a book. It suddenly occurs to Mat that he is the only man present, and thinks this whole thing makes no sense, particularly Elayne and Nynaeve’s silence. Then he notes their twitchy behavior, as well as that of the Aes Sedai and the Kin.

A dark suspicion bloomed in his mind. Hands moving on skirts. Reanne’s blush. Birgitte’s ready quiver. A murky suspicion. He did not really know of what. Just that he had been going about this the wrong way. He gave Nynaeve a stern look, and Elayne a sterner. Butter would not have melted on their bloody tongues.

He walks slowly toward the Sea Folk, divining that somehow they are the “fly in the cream pitcher,” and tries to guess what he’s supposed to do; he hates being used, and decides if Elayne and Nynaeve don’t like the way he does it, they should have taken him into their confidence in the first place. He gets up in Renaile’s personal space, which she does not care for at all, and tells them they might all be able to channel, but he doesn’t really care. Renaile looks past him and tells Nynaeve that she doesn’t recall anything in their bargain about having to listen to this “young oakum picker.”

“I don’t bloody care about your bargains with anybody else, you daughter of the sands,” Mat snapped. So his irritation was not that well under control. A man could only take so much.

The Sea Folk all gasp, as this is one of the worst insults in their culture, and Renaile pulls a knife on him, but Mat grabs it from her and growls that Elayne and Nynaeve need her, otherwise he’d be happy to leave them for the gholam to kill.

“Well, as far as you’re concerned, I’m the Master of the Blades, and my blades are bare.” What that meant exactly, he had no idea, except for having once heard, “When the blades are bare, even the Mistress of the Ships bows to the Master of the Blades.” “This is the bargain between you and me. You go where Nynaeve and Elayne want, and in return, I won’t tie the lot of you across horses like packsaddles and haul you there!”

That was no way to go on, not with the Windfinder to the Mistress of the Ships. Not with a bilgeboy off a broken-backed darter, for that matter. Renaile quivered with the effort of not going for him with her bare hands, and never mind her dagger in his hand. “It is agreed, under the Light!” she growled. Her eyes nearly started out of her head. Her mouth worked, confusion and disbelief suddenly chasing one another across her face. This time, the gasps sounded as if the wind had ripped the curtains down.

“It is agreed,” Mat said quickly, and touching fingers to his lips, he pressed them to hers.

After a moment, she did the same, fingers trembling against his mouth.

He gives her back the knife; Renaile regains her cool quickly, and observes that she thinks she has just made a bargain with a ta’veren, but hopes that one day Mat will “walk a rope” for her. Mat’s sure that probably isn’t something pleasant, but bows and murmurs that anything’s possible. Then they all discuss where to go, the Sea Folk getting glummer the further away the possible locale is from the sea, but it’s screamingly obvious to Mat that this is all just a set-up for Reanne’s timid suggestion of the Kin’s farm a few miles north of Ebou Dar, and he rolls his eyes as everyone agrees enthusiastically. Everyone starts leaving, but Mat beckons to Elayne and Nynaeve, and to his surprise they actually come over to him. Elayne immediately apologizes for using him, but assures him they had their reasons, and Nynaeve wants to know what on earth made him try bullying them. Shooting blind, Mat suggests that next time they make a bargain with the Sea Folk, to talk with him first; then maybe it won’t get screwed up so badly. Nynaeve flushes, and Elayne murmurs ruefully that he is a “very observant subject” before they head out, but both they and Aviendha and Birgitte see it when Tylin sneaks up on him and pinches his bottom.

Elayne put on a face of commiseration, Nynaeve of glowering disapproval. Aviendha fought laughter none too successfully, while Birgitte wore her grin openly. They all bloody knew.

“Nynaeve thinks you are a little boy needing protection,” Tylin breathed up at him. “I know you are a grown man.” Her smoky chuckle made that the dirtiest comment he had ever heard.

She compliments him on his “masterful” performance, and tells him she will miss him; he replies he’ll miss her, too, and is shocked to realize it’s true. He tells her that next time he’ll do the chasing, and she answers that she likes masterful men, but not when they are with her, and yanks his head down for an extended kiss. Mat walks out unsteadily, and runs into Thom, Juilin, Nerim, and Lopin (Nalesean’s manservant), who are toting his belongings; Thom amusedly returns his signet ring, assuming it was a parting gift from Tylin, and Mat snaps back that it’s his, and he paid for it. He hopes irritably that they’re ready to go, and Lopin asks mournfully if he could stay to see Nalesean buried; Mat tells him no, regretfully, and offers to take Lopin on as his own manservant once Nerim goes back to Talmanes, which Lopin accepts gratefully. They go to collect Olver, but Riselle tells them (bosom heaving dramatically) that she let him go off to play. Mat runs back to Nynaeve and Elayne and explains that he has to go look for the boy; they all agree that of course he does, and all offer to help. Mat is tempted to accept, but remembers his promise, and tells them getting the Bowl (and themselves) out of the city is more important. He charges Lan and Birgitte to take care of the others until he can get back, which earns him glowers from Elayne and Nynaeve; Aviendha just assumes he’s talking to her as well, and promises they will.

“Nynaeve is my life,” Lan said simply, putting a hand on her shoulder. The odd thing was, she suddenly looked very sad, and then just as suddenly, her jaw set as though she was preparing to walk through a stone wall and make a large hole.

Birgitte gave Elayne a fond look, but it was to Mat she spoke. “I will,” she said. “Honor’s truth.”

Mat tugged at his coat uncomfortably. He still was not sure how much he had told her while drunk. Light, but the woman could soak it up like dry sand. Even so, he gave the proper response for a Barashandan lord, accepting her pledge. “The honor of blood; the truth of blood.” Birgitte nodded, and from the startled looks he received from Nynaeve and Elayne, she still kept his secrets close.

Nynaeve warns him that a storm is still on the way, and to take care of himself; he nods and leaves, dice drumming in his head, to return to where Thom and the others are gathered and instruct them how they’re going to search for Olver. They all nod, and Mat is amazed anew that they all follow him so willingly.

Some of them followed Mat Cauthon because they thought he was lucky, because his luck might keep them alive when the swords were out, and some for reasons he was not really sure of, but they followed. Not even Thom had ever more than protested an order of his. Maybe Renaile had been more than luck. Maybe his being ta’veren did more than dump him in the-middle of trouble. Suddenly he felt… responsible… for these men. It was an uncomfortable feeling. Mat Cauthon and responsibility did not go together. It was unnatural.

They head out into the streets. Mat seeks out every merchant selling sweets and every pretty woman he sees, but none of them have seen Olver, and all of them give him snatches of ridiculous rumors about riots and even a battle happening somewhere in the city, which Mat dismisses as nonsense. Then he begins hearing what he assumes is thunder from the direction of the sea, and wonders if Nynaeve’s storm really is coming. He reaches the quay, and notices everyone is staring out into the bay; he pushes to the front and sees half the ships in the harbor are either on fire and sinking, or trying desperately to beat out to sea. Then one blows up in front of him, and he sees scores of ships sweeping in that he recognizes.

“Blood and bloody ashes,” he muttered in shock. “It’s the flaming Seanchan!”

Mat runs back into the city shouting frantically for Olver, and almost runs into a column of Seanchan cavalry on scaled catlike creatures. The city is under attack, and people are running and screaming everywhere; Mat pushes through the din, searching for Olver desperately, and in spite of himself pauses to watch a confrontation between a company of Ebou Dari soldiers and a sul’dam and damane. The damane blows up the soldiers, taking down a good bit of the surrounding buildings as well, and Mat is knocked down by the concussion from the blast. He gets up and tries to run.

The sul’dam apparently was not satisfied. The foxhead went cool again, and from behind another roar hammered him to the pavement, pavement that jumped up to meet him. Through the ringing in his ears, he heard masonry groan. Above him, the white-plastered brick wall began leaning outward.

“What happened to my bloody luck?” he shouted. He had time for that. And just time to realize, as brick and timbers crashed down on him, that the dice in his head had just stopped dead.


Excuse me, I have to sulk for a minute.



Man, if I had known when I first read it that this was the last time we’d see Mat for four years (in reader time), I would have… I don’t know. Read this chapter more slowly? Something. Je suis trés désolée, you guys.

Well, at least we kind of get a nice State of the Mat before he goes and gets smushed. His reflections on why his men follow him was nicely done, and showcase his newfound ability for self-introspection—even if he is still only semi-sporadic about it. I love passages like these, mostly because it reminds you that sometimes other characters see the Awesome of Our Heroes much more clearly than Our Heroes themselves often do. Which is awful nice.

I also really liked Mat’s exchange with Birgitte, mostly because it revealed a tiny bit more of Mat’s Awesome to the Supergirls as well.

Speaking of which, I wonder if Mat’s memories are ever going to become common knowledge among Our Heroes? I’m pretty sure that to date, other than Birgitte no one except Lan and Rand knows about them, and even Lan and Rand don’t really know anything specific—they know Mat is suddenly a military genius, but not how or why. I don’t think it’s actually necessary to the plot that anyone ever find out where all his tactical prowess comes from, but it would be cool to see the reaction, in my opinion. I wonder what Tuon would make of it? (Again, she knows he “remembers Hawkwing’s face” but nothing more specific than that, at least as far as I can recall.)

For that matter, does anyone besides Elyas and Faile know about Perrin’s wolves? Well, besides Moiraine. And Lan. And Slayer, I suppose. And Ishy, I think. And Verin. And Aram, maybe? Did he know? Raen and Ilya knew (I think), so it’s reasonable to suppose Aram did, too, I guess. Okay, so actually a fair number of people know about Perrin, and a number more could have guessed by now, but still, my point stands! Sort of!

(Also, I have to be amused that one of the least talkative characters in WOT—namely, Lan—is the one who knows more of everyone else’s secrets than any other character!)

Bilge stone: (Heh) I’ve always loved this bit where Mat ta’verens Renaile (yes, now it’s a verb!), but I must confess I’ve never quite understood it, either. Maybe I’m just not connecting the dots, but what exactly was Elayne and Nynaeve’s scheme here? Just throw Mat into a room with the Sea Folk and hope he’d annoy them into doing what the Supergirls wanted—even though he didn’t know what that was? Nynaeve was surprised that he bullied them, but what precisely did the girls suppose he would do? And why not tell him beforehand what result they were hoping for? How did Mat being clueless help their position? It just makes no sense to me!

Though, I guess it constitutes proof that you can enjoy an effect even if you don’t understand the cause, but this is hardly news.

I do have to note something here that Tylin said, which is that it was apparently Nynaeve who gave Tylin a “talking to” about her treatment of Mat. I mean, I’m sure it was her and Elayne together, but the fact that Tylin mentions Nynaeve and not Elayne indicates to me that Nynaeve took significant part in the conversation, possibly the lead in it. I’m just… tossing that out there.

Other than that I at least can be happy that this is the last time I have to think about Tylin for a whole book. Every thorn has its rose! Bye, Tylin! I’ve got a special finger just for you!

And bye, Supergirls! Looking… forward, I guess, to headdesking at you in TPOD!

The Seanchan: Are back. Whoo.

And… yeah.

So, bye, Mat! See you in Winter’s Heart! We’ll miss you! *blows kisses*
Chapter 40: Spears

What Happens
Galina Casban stumbles barefoot through mountain terrain, and thinks of her exalted positions in the Tower—as head of the Red Ajah, and also as Alviarin’s second in command on the Black Council, one of only three Black sisters who knows who Alviarin is.

She could speak any name in those meetings—a king’s—and know that name belonged to the dead. It had happened, with a king and with a queen. She had helped to break two Amyrlins, twice helped turn the most powerful woman in the world into a squealing wretch eager to tell all she knew, had helped make it seem that one of those had died in her sleep and had seen the other deposed and stilled. Such things were a duty, like the need to exterminate men with the ability to channel, not actions she took pleasure in beyond that of tasks well done, but she had enjoyed leading the circle that stilled Siuan Sanche. Surely all those things meant that Galina Casban was herself among the mightiest of the world, among the most powerful. Surely they did. They must.

Exhausted, she falls on her face, and begins to weep, wondering aloud how this can have happened to her, and after a moment realizes that no one had yanked her to her feet like usual. She looks around for Therava, but doesn’t see her right away among the seventy or so Wise Ones on the ridge, all looking at something. She sees that they’ve chosen the weakest to shield her today, as a sign of contempt, but Galina remembers her last escape attempt, and tells herself that she will not try again unless she is 100% sure of success. Then Therava strides over and seizes Galina’s hair and examines her, and Galina thinks that where all the abuse and hardship she’s had has not made her beg, Therava’s eyes make her want to beg. Therava comments that she is fading, and orders that she be “watered,” and drops Galina and moves off. Some Shaido Maidens “water” Galina, and she is careful not to spill any of it.

Spilling water was cause for another beating; they had thrashed her in sight of a creek six paces wide for spilling a mouthful over her chin.

The party moves out again at a lope, and the Maidens switch Galina to make her run. She tries to convince herself that Elaida or Alviarin will surely arrange to rescue her soon.

She would promise anything for that deliverance. She would even keep those promises. She had been broken free of the Three Oaths on joining the Black Ajah, replacing them with a new trinity, but at that moment she truly believed she would keep her word, if it brought rescue. Any promise, to anyone who would free her. Even a man.

Eventually they reach a camp, and Galina is dumped on the ground, semi-conscious. She comes to to a voice telling Therava she took her time, and to bring Galina in; Galina is shocked to learn that she’s only been held captive for nine days. She is brought inside the tent and flung down in front of Sevanna, fourteen Wise Ones, and twelve Aiel men (to Galina’s horror, as she is only wearing a torn shift). Sevanna comments that it seems Aes Sedai can lie after all, and asks if Galina really thinks she can murder a Wise One and get away with it. Galina thinks that she means Wise Ones who died in the battle, and answers that Sevanna should be grateful it wasn’t all of them, and there is time for Sevanna to correct her mistakes; Galina will remember those who assist her when she gets back to the Tower. To herself, she prays to figure out a way to get Sevanna to take her from Therava; Sevanna is vain and ambitious, and possibly could be bought, but Therava is like “a force of nature.”

“You are da’tsang,” Sevanna said. Galina blinked. She was a despised one? Certainly they had displayed their contempt plainly, but why—?

“You are da’tsang,” a round-faced Wise One she did not know intoned, and a woman a hand taller than Therava repeated, “You are da’tsang.”

Therava’s hawklike face might have been carved from wood, yet her eyes, fixed on Galina, glittered accusingly. Galina felt nailed to the spot where she knelt, unable to move a muscle. A hypnotized bird watching a serpent slither nearer. No one had ever made her feel that way. No one.

Smugly, Sevanna says that three Wise Ones have said it; Galina isn’t sure what just happened, but observes hopefully that Therava doesn’t like it. She is grateful at first when they stuff her into an itchy black cloak, but it doesn’t take long for that feeling to end.

Sevanna watches the Aes Sedai da’tsang labor at the useless task of hauling rocks, and Rhiale comments that she never thought the woman would make it so easy for the others to believe she murdered Desaine. Therava complains that she had intended to put Galina in gai’shain robes of silk, and asks what Sevanna means by all this. Rhiale answers that Sevanna wants a tame Aes Sedai of her own, and intends to break Galina for that purpose; Sevanna is irritated that Rhiale knows she wants this as a substitute for her own lack of channeling ability. Therava thinks she is broken already, but Sevanna counters with Galina’s behavior in the tent, and thinks it will take a while, but eventually she will beg to obey.

“If you want to make an Aes Sedai obey you,” a man’s voice said behind her, “this might help.”

Sevanna whirls to find Caddar and Maisia there; each are carrying a large sack, and Caddar is holding out a short white rod. Sevanna demands to know what they are doing here, and snatches the rod, asking what it is; she notes that the rod has strange symbols inscribed on one end. Caddar answers that she could call it an Oath Rod; knowing what the Oath Rod does, Sevanna hurriedly sticks it in her belt so she doesn’t have to touch it anymore. Therava and Rhiale glare at the rod and then her, and Sevanna knows there isn’t a chance they will ever touch it, but reminds herself of Galina. (Maisia notes this byplay and is amused by it.) Caddar explains to her how to use it as they walk to her tent for tea, and that it can only be used on women who channel; she will have to wait till she has al’Thor before Caddar will give her what will control him. They sit down (Sevanna is very irritated that Maisia seems even more beautiful than she did before), and Caddar mentions that if she meant just any man, there is something called a binding chair, but he doesn’t know if any survived the Breaking. Sevanna plots how to get him and Maisia both into black robes, and asks about the traveling boxes. Caddar answers that he brought as many “nar’baha” as he could find, and he advises them to hurry and use them, as four of al’Thor’s clans are maneuvering to trap the Shaido between them. Therava thinks that is reason to move, but not to panic.

“Didn’t I say?” Caddar’s smile was not at all pleasant. “It seems al’Thor has bound some Aes Sedai to him, too, and they have taught the Wise Ones how to Travel without a nar’baha, over short distances, at least. Twenty or thirty miles. A recent rediscovery, it seems. They could be here—well, today. All four clans.”

Sevanna imagines being in Sorilea’s clutches, and sends Rhiale to inform the other Wise Ones. Caddar explains how the nar’baha works, but Sevanna barely listens, wondering if she can trust Caddar’s greed as much as she thought.

Maeric frowns at the “hole” that had appeared when he pressed the red spot on the box the wetlander had given him. Sevanna is going through another hole, and Maeric notes that she has taken most of the Wise Ones with her, leaving few to the other groups. He goes through the hole and almost falls, since the hole is a foot above the ground on this side. He yells back to his wife (Dyrele) to watch the drop, and watches as she and the rest of the Moshaine Shaido come through, including a large group who call themselves the Mera’din, which means “Brotherless,” as they had abandoned sept and clan because they did not believe Rand al’Thor was the Car’a’carn. Maeric does not trust them, even if he might agree. Then the hole snaps shut, slicing several of the Mera’din to pieces, and Maeric knows that his son and daughter both had still been on the other side. He pushes the red spot again and again, but the wetlander had said it would take three days to reset itself. He tells Dyrele they can wait, but then three different scouts come up to tell him that spears and/or cavalry are approaching from three different directions. Calmly, Maeric calls Hamal the blacksmith over, and tells him to keep pressing the red spot, as it is the only chance the non-fighters have to get out. Then he touches Dyrele’s cheek and tells her she must prepare to put on white.

Raising his veil, Maeric shoved one spear high above his head. “Moshaine!” he roared. “We dance!”

They move to engage, and Maeric reflects that the world has become a very strange place since Rand al’Thor appeared in it. The Moshaine Shaido start to sing.

Graendal watches as the last gateway closes behind the Shaido, and Sammael laughs.

“One of these days,” she said dryly, “you will be too smart for your own good. A fool box, Sammael? Suppose one of them had understood?”

Sammael counters that they didn’t, though, and she supposes he sent them somewhere ahead of al’Thor’s army; Sammael says, some, but the rest are scattered from Illian to Ghealdan, and no one will suspect that he had anything to do with it. Graendal realizes he doesn’t know that Sevanna took every Shaido woman who could channel with her group, and wonders if the time has come to abandon him. He comments that she will rise and fall with him, and she agrees aloud, but thinks something will have to be worked out. They open separate gateways to their strongholds, and Graendal asks Sammael, what if al’Thor comes after him himself?

“Al’Thor isn’t going after anyone,” Sammael laughed. “All I have to do is wait.” Still laughing, he stepped into his gateway and let it close.

Shaidar Haran steps out of the shadows, and looks at the residue the gateways had left; it can smell the difference between saidar and saidin, something no other Fade could do. It goes over and examines the discarded sack Sammael had left behind, stirring it with a spear it had picked up.

Much was happening outside the plan. Would these events churn chaos, or…

Angry black flames raced down the spear haft from Shaidar Haran’s hand, the hand of the Hand of the Shadow. In an instant the wooden haft was charred and twisted; the spearhead dropped off. The Myrddraal let the blackened stick fall and dusted soot from its palm. If Sammael served chaos, then all was well. If not…

A sudden ache climbed the back of its neck; a faint weakness washed along its limbs. Too long away from Shayol Ghul. That tie had to be severed somehow. With a snarl, it turned to find the edge of shadow that it needed. The day was coming. It would come.

Sevanna: is annoying. And finally uses her cube. The End.

What? Okay, FINE.

Well, if we ever needed proof that Sammael was evil, spreading the Shaido all over hell and gone (and thus ensuring the drawn-outedness of That Damn Plotline) should be evidence enough for anyone. That was cold, Sammy. What did we ever do to you?

I’m guessing the purpose here is only nominally to spread chaos, and more to create a giant widespread clusterfuck to distract Rand’s attention from getting up in Sammael’s bidness in Illian. Which isn’t the worst plan I’ve ever heard, I guess. Except for how it completely doesn’t work, of course. It’s always the details that get you, man.

Galina: Wow. I hate her and she deserves everything that’s happening to her, but the description of her treatment almost makes me feel sorry for her.

Also, the “watering” thing kind of killed me, especially the bit about how they beat up Galina for spilling water in sight of a river. Talk about sticking to your cultural guns, right?

We find out from Verin that one of the “new trinity” of Oaths Black sisters take is not to betray the Shadow until the hour of their death (heh, sneaky Verin), but I don’t think we’ve ever found out what the other two are. Have we?

Therava: I am really unclear, both from their interaction here and from what I recall of all their future scenes, whether Therava’s interest in Galina is sexual or not. There is unquestionably some kind of subtext there – certainly in a weird creepy way Therava can be seen as actually taking care of Galina here— but I get the impression that this was deliberately left ambiguous. Which, okay, but I again have to assert my irritation that up to this point, the only even subtextual hint of same-sex relationships we get in WOT is… this.

I mean, ew? That’s not just upholding a stereotype, that’s damn near parody. But in a bad way. Urk.

Anyway. Sevanna’s plan to use Galina as a channeling proxy is actually one of the few non-dumb schemes she’s come up with. What puzzles me is why we didn’t see more come of it once she did make Galina swear on the Oath Rod. Or maybe she did, and I’m just not remembering. Well, we’ll get to it. Unfortunately.

Maeric: Raw deal, man. It’s too bad; for a Shaido you were pretty cool.

Superfade! Am I the only one who hears that in a Molly Shannon voice/pose? Just me? Okay.

Look, I really don’t know what his/its drama is. You’d think the Dark One would be satisfied that after like umpty-trillion years or whatever he can finally go proxy-ishly larking about some non-Shayol Ghul locales, but nooo, he has to be all pissy because his avatar’s batteries run down too quick. There’s just no pleasing some evil deities!

Okay, more seriously, there’s actually been a lot of contention among fans as to whether the line “That tie had to be severed somehow” is coming from the Dark One, as in “get me out of this crappy patched-up celestial prison already,” or from Shaidar Haran itself, as in “get this crazy archfiend off me!”

That… wasn’t actually more serious, was it. Oh well!

Of the theories floating around to explain what Mr. Superfade’s Deal is, I personally like the “avatar” theory. (And no, that’s not the theory where Shaidar Haran is a giant blue Smurf.)

That said, though, I’ve never gotten a good sense of how or even if SH really fits into the overall story. He’s always struck me as… not “extraneous,” exactly, because I’m pretty sure I don’t have enough information to make that judgment, but just, I don’t know, square-peg-in-round-hole-ish. Out of place, somehow. Like pickle juice in your coffee, or something. I have no rational basis for this feeling, but I have it nonetheless, and so I share it.

In any case, the relevant part is that it seems like SH/the DO is a bit doubtful of Sammael’s commitment to Evil Motion, which sets us up for what happens in the Big Ass Ending.

Which is coming up Next! Have a lovely springlike weekend, chirren, and we polish this puppy off Tuesday!


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